CDFI Fund Director Donna Gambrell presents a $4.6 million check to Fund Director Mark Masterson, Chris Rosselot and Fund Board Chair Joe Lawrence. (Photo/Henry Clay Webster)

The Northside Community Development Fund held its third annual business luncheon at the The Lexus Club at PNC Park on Friday, Feb. 26.

With nearly 200 attendees, the event brought community leaders together to celebrate the community development bank’s success in 2009 and hear a keynote speech by Donna Gambrell, the director of the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund at the U.S. Department of the Treasury in Washington, D.C.

Gambrell’s CDFI Fund dedicated a $600,000 grant and $4 million New Markets Tax Credit to the Northside Fund in 2009. Once the Northside Fund sells the tax credit to a bank, it will have close to $12 million in loan and investment capital.

“When we gathered here last year, there was much uncertainty as to what 2009 was going to hold,” said Mark Masterson, the Fund’s executive director. “Our businesses and banks faced severe challenges. The level of uncertainty was high.”

In just the last year, the Northside Fund has grown its lending ability by a hefty margin.

The $4 million, made available by the CDFI Fund via the American Recovery and Investment Act, will be used to develop the Garden Theater and the rest of the Federal/North block — a project that has been in the works for more than 20 years.

Masterson also thanked the many smaller institutions that have given the Northside Fund loans or lines of credit during the last year:

·        Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development gave a $250,000 loan for small business loans in the Allegheny City Corridor. Above, PPND President Ellen Kight presents the check to Masterson and Lawrence.

·        U.S. Small Business Administration provided a $145,000 operating grant.  Above, Chris Rosselot, a representative from Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey’s office, presents the check to Masterson and Lawrence.

·        Slovak Savings Bank provided a $250,000 line of credit.  Above, Slovak Savings CEO Dan Moon presents a check to Masterson and Lawrence.

·        Huntington Bank provided a $300,000 operating grant over six years. Above, Huntington Bank Senior Vice President Debbie Tawney presents a check to Masterson and Lawrence.

Gambrell praised the Obama administration’s Recovery Act for supplying her organization with an additional $1.5 billion in allocations for the New Markets Tax Credits program.

Gambrell said that because of the stimulus there has been an overall 127 percent increase in lending to community-based financial institutions.

“The Northside Fund is an important example of the good work that CDFIs are doing all across the country,” Gambrell said.

Since opening in 2000, the Northside Fund has made loans to more than 95 small businesses and community groups and financed the construction or renovation of more than 50 houses and 30,000 square feet of office space.