Our 5-year Strategic Plan Preview from CEO Jim Ferris

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Dear Friends:

I am excited to share with you a preview of our next 5-year strategic plan—an endeavor we have been working on now for nearly a year. We kicked off our process with our board and senior management last April in Chicago, followed by a number of focus groups over the summer that looked at financing needs for rural organizations, enterprise level, and naturally occurring affordable housing.

We also interviewed several investors and CDFI representatives about products, market demand, and capital structures. We are grateful to the more than 40 staff from 32 different NeighborWorks organizations who participated, including developers in urban and rural markets that create rental and for-sale housing.

To guide us in this process, we engaged Adina Abramowitz from Consulting For Change. Adina has worked with dozens of CDFI clients and assisted NeighborWorks Capital with its two previous plans. Using our Aeris-Insight™ rating, Adina compared our financial performance and impact results with other CDFIs whose assets are $50-$100 million. From here, we developed a research plan for the board to review at our retreat in October, which addressed: capital structures and growth models, a customer survey on loan products and terms, other possible lines of business, and how NC is perceived by stakeholders.

Our new strategic plan, to be released early next year, incorporates the insight we have gained this year, including:

  • Affordable housing is no longer just a low/mod issue. NeighborWorks organizations are looking for financing tools to address the workforce housing market.
  • Investors think the NeighborWorks network is strong.
  • Subordinate financing, combined with bank and GSE loans. are needed.
  • Longer term financing, with terms from 7-15 years, is desirable.
  • Enterprise-level capital (Lines of Credit) is needed for groups with multiple projects.
  • Rate is important, but so is flexibility and creativity.
  • If we were to consult, the biggest need from our customers would be around acquisition or refinancing properties (e.g. expiring Year 15, and non-tax credit equity).

I am working with our board and senior team to finalize and adopt the goals for the new plan by the end of the year. I look forward to sharing these with you!

-Jim

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