Recently, the Insider has learned that the Washington Area Community Investment Fund (WACIF), currently located along 12th Street in Brookland, is moving to 2010 Rhode Island Ave NE, along the “Main Street” section of the Avenue. WACIF is a nonprofit community development loan fund whose mission is to empower underserved communities and individuals in the Washington, DC metropolitan area by providing access to capital and technical assistance to small businesses, childcare centers, affordable housing developers, and community organizations.
I’ve had the opportunity to hear the reasons why WACIF is moving into new digs, and what they have in store as an organization moving forward from WACIF’s Executive Director, Tim Flanagan. See our conversation below:
Where are you moving your offices?
WACIF is moving to 2010 Rhode Island Ave NE, Suite 102. The building has three units, and WACIF will occupy a portion of the street-level floor. The space was formerly a bank branch.
Why are you moving to RIA, just a short distance from where you are now?
Two main reasons. The first reason – WACIF needs more space. Our organization has been growing steadily over the past three years. We’ve added two full-time employees and 1 consultant in the last 12 months, and our current space on 12th Street didn’t offer growth potential. The second reason – RIA is a great corridor with great potential. WACIF sees an opportunity to help catalyze small business development and job creation along the RIA corridor. Woodridge is primed for the infill of neighborhood-serving retail and community-focused businesses and organizations and we want to be a part of that.
How does your organization see RIA redevelopment moving along in the future?
RIA will become a revitalized commercial corridor. It’s in the cards – the community wants it, the bones are there…it’s just a matter of time. I think the next 2-3 years will see entrepreneurs, small business owners, and community organizations recognizing the both the potential of RIA as well as the community support that’s already there. I also think the city’s leadership and Councilmember McDuffie are committed to seeing RIA as a sustainable, community-serving ‘Great Street’ and will continue to put resources behind that vision.
Please explain what WACIF is and what you are currently working on. How many employees do you have? What is your annual budget?
WACIF (pronounced WAKE-if) is a 25-year-old community development financial institution (CDFI) that empowers underserved communities and individuals in the Washington DC Metro Area through access to capital and technical assistance. WACIF manages over $6 million in assets, deploying capital and resources to create jobs and lasting economic opportunities in the communities that need it the most. WACIF employs 5 full-time employees and 3 consultants and has an annual budget of $750,000.
WACIF has several permanent initiatives. The first is our access to capital services. WACIF has several loan funds, including loan fund partnerships with DC’s Department of Small and Local Business Development and a SBA Microloan Fund. WACIF’s main loan fund is the Access to Capital Loan Fund (ACLF), which is made up of socially conscious individuals and institutions who look for a double bottom-line return on their investments. As a side note – anyone can invest in WACIF! We have investments as small as $500 and as large as $700K. WACIF lends money from the ACLF to small businesses, childcare centers, affordable housing developers, and community organizations that have a net positive impact on their community while paying the loan back. The other permanent initiative is WACIF’s technical assistance services. Basically, WACIF provides free consulting services to entrepreneurs, small businesses, and organizations on everything from business planning to growth strategy, financing to financial management. WACIF partners with organizations like the DC Small Business Development Center network, banks, and financing organizations like DC Community Ventures to ensure our clients have everything they need to succeed.
Any plans to help RIA NE redevelop?
Absolutely! WACIF will be a part of the revitalization of RIA through words and deeds. We hope to recruit businesses and organizations to fill in the empty spaces, support the businesses and orgs already there, and be great stewards of our investor’s resources.