Q&A: McLaughlin wants to ‘retain power’ at Twin Cities LISC

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Peter McLaughlin is no stranger to public service.

After running as a Hennepin County commissioner for nearly three decades, McLaughlin founded the Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Corp. four years ago. (LISC) took on a new role as executive director, an organization dedicated to advancing economic opportunities for the underserved. communities.

On the county board, McLaughlin led efforts to promote mass transit and transit-oriented development, among other initiatives. In the year He lost his re-election bid in November 2018. But as he sees it, the move to Twin Cities LISC was a logical next step as he continues to connect with the community.

“I’ve always loved being able to go out and talk to people in every little room in the community. Sometimes they’re crazy, sometimes they’re not. Crazy, as much as I want to be there, though, one can’t put words in my mouth,” McLaughlin said with a laugh.

“But then I got a lot of energy.”

These days, McLaughlin is focusing his energies on Twin Cities LISC, which recently celebrated its 35th anniversary. The organization provides “capital, strategy and expertise” to Tawin City’s community development partners, including BIPOC Developers, according to its website.

Since 1988, Twin Cities LISC has invested $1 billion and contributed an additional $2.9 billion to local community development projects. These investments have created affordable housing for more than 17,000 families, greater financial stability for 8,000 people, and 2.4 million square feet of new or renovated community and commercial space.

McLaughlin, who holds a master’s degree from Princeton University’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, served six years in the Minnesota Legislature before being elected to the county board in 1991.

In the following interview, McLaughlin talks about Twin Cities LISC, his work with BIPOC developers, and other topics. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: I understand that Twin Cities LISC recently celebrated its 35th anniversary. Tell us about it.

A: Thirty-five years ago, in 1988, George HW Bush was president and George Latimer was mayor of St. Paul. And he [Latimer] He was one of the people who was instrumental in bringing LISC to the Twin Cities. “Hill Street Blues,” “Dallas,” “Dynasty” and “M*A*S*H” were big TV shows.

LISC was created because of the passage of the Community Reinvestment Act. This in turn forced banks that took deposits from low-income areas to make loans in those low-income areas. And that law was a way of moving capital to these districts.

With the help of the Ford Foundation, which works with banks, this new organization, Local Initiatives Support Corp. It was created to accurately position loans, generate loans and place them in place.

We need to raise our own funds here in the country to run our offices and provide additional resources. But it’s been around for 25 years, with 38 offices including the Twin Cities and the Duluth office that I run.

We are local deal makers who work to identify good projects to capitalize on. And I would like to state that LISC is an organization that provides capital to people, places and projects that do not have access to capital through conventional means. We collect that capital and then put it at affordable prices for housing projects, small business development and so on.

Q: Talk a little bit about what those investments mean for local communities.

A: Back in the day, when “M*A*S*H” was on TV, we did a lot of work with emerging nonprofits. By P.P.L. We have invested a lot in [Project for Pride in Living], CommonBond, and now what is Aeon. Now those are major nonprofits, but back then they were just startups. LISC was investing resources in their work but also in the projects they were working on.

Currently, we are investing in various BIPOC organizations across the region. What LISC is able to provide is assistance and low capital provision, but there are housing projects that cannot be built.

Q: You briefly mentioned your work with BIPOC Developers. Can you expand on that?

A: This is an incredible and growing new BIPOC developer community in the Twin Cities. They want to build projects in the community. Four years ago, we conducted a survey, where we talked to those developers about what hindered their growth and success. We listened to what they said. And we’ve created what we call the Developers of Color Initiative to literally try to change the development ecosystem in the Twin Cities, which has been very white and very male in years past.

So we want to invest in these new developers, as a way to build wealth and community control in BIPOC communities. They must have site control. What we were doing was not development 101; We at Development 201. We want the developers to have the project they are working on. We’ve had training sessions, we’ve provided technical support, some grants to help them get cash flow. They do not have a large scale. They don’t necessarily have a large savings account or, as Chris Coleman says, they can’t go to the mother bank.

So we are trying to make them more capable on the front end. And as they put together their final financing package, we help them get across the finish line. We want to train, but we also want to help – be hands-on with them as they do their projects.

We are very intentional about connecting those developers with other successful developers in the ecosystem. To consult with those developers, they’re all kinds of people who help them out there on the mounds.

We had 27 developers in the two teams. We thought we would have six developers in our first team. We ended up with 43 applicants for the position. So we swept the floor and raised a little more money and ended up with 12 in our first group. And then we did the second group, more than 40 applicants. Our hope is to have another team in 2024.

Q: What does the future hold for LISC?

A: One of the things I like to say, and my staff gets tired of hearing my little talk, is that if we don’t start investing enough as a society, my successors, your successors, the politicians’ successors – they’re going to be having the same conversation about race gaps, income gaps, housing problems, 25 years from now. So somehow we need to grow these investments to a scale that actually moves the needle.

It is difficult to maintain energy. We have got a good institutional network where we can plug resources. And, frankly, the Legislature did a lot this last session. But we still have to make sure we’re not just doing a little test project here and a little test project there. They’re okay, but they’re experiments. And if we don’t achieve balance, we will fail. This is what I see in the future.

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