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Sustaining economic progress in a region fighting to end poverty

CDFIs are working to maintain Appalachia’s decades-long revival — and provide greater economic opportunity throughout the areas’ local communities

The Appalachia cultural region, which is part of the larger Appalachian Mountain range, stretches from southern New York to Northern Alabama. It is rich in natural resources and geographically close to major economic engines on the Eastern Seaboard. While the region has historically suffered from unemployment and below-average incomes, the past two decades have produced steady economic growth that has halved the area’s poverty rate.footnote1

In the above video, Appalachian Community Capital (ACC) President and Chief Executive Officer Donna Gambrell discusses the role Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) play in fostering Appalachia’s economic growth.

CDFIs provide underserved communities, often minority or impoverished, access to capital that encourages small business ownership. They’ve been crucial to supporting the Appalachia region’s economic progress. ACC, working in partnership with CDFIs across region, has financed nearly 100 small business loans and helped create or retain over 2,000 jobs—more than half of them going to low-income workers—since its founding.

“I’m optimistic about the future of this region and the resilience of our economy,” Gambrell says. “There’s a growing recognition that we must do things differently—we’ve got to keep working to debunk the notion that this region doesn’t hold great opportunity.”

Bank of America operates a $1.6 billion CDFI portfolio with 250 partner CDFIs to provide access to capital to individuals and small businesses who do not qualify through traditional lenders learn more about how Bank of America is helping CDFIs play a critical role in creating economic opportunity.

Originally published on 04/08/2021.