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Living Cities: The Catalyst Fund

The Catalyst Fund deploys low cost flexible debt to improve the lives of low-income people and the communities where they live.

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Investment

$3 million 10-year loan at 2%; originated in 2011

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Rationale

The Catalyst Fund provides low-cost loans to community development organizations. Its lending in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area strengthens low-income communities along rapidly changing public transportation corridors.

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Returns

The loan is fully deployed and on track for success.

To date, our investment has become loans for equipment, real estate, and working capital for small businesses and affordable housing. Support during construction of the Green Line in Saint Paul was critical in preserving small businesses and cultural communities, such as the Little Mekong district. For example, Catalyst money was loaned to 31 small businesses including popular local music venue The Turf Club and to create housing like the 73 affordable units at Jamestown Homes.

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Lessons Learned

The Catalyst Fund’s work with community development organizations has strengthened local organizations prior to the money going to work on the ground. For example, in 2016 the Neighborhood Development Center used $2.2 million in Catalyst loans to bring in other investors and increase its average loan size from $14,000 to $44,000.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Central Corridor Funders Collaborative

Disclaimer of Endorsement: The McKnight Foundation does not endorse or recommend any commercial products, processes, or service providers.

Last updated 11/2017

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