LOS ANGELES, CA - The Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco held a seminar at LA's Southwest College to explore best practices for creating quality jobs and small business expansion in underserved West Coast communities. The session was an integral part of the Bank's Quality Job Growth and Business Expansion Financing initiative that will direct $40 million to support programs that use innovative strategies to enhance the income- and wealth-building potential of working families.
FHLBank San Francisco hopes the initiative will ultimately increase the pool of future homebuyers in the Bank's three-state district of Arizona, California, and Nevada.
"One of the biggest challenges for our nation is creating jobs that offer wages high enough to allow working families to raise their children and purchase homes in safe, nurturing communities," said D. Tad Lowrey, Chairman of the FHLBank San Francisco's Board of Directors. "We are exploring best practices for programs and initiatives that train local residents for good jobs or support their efforts to expand small businesses. These are the kinds of programs that the Bank wants to foster with this initiative."
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), who was the keynote speaker at the seminar, said, "I was very pleased to participate in today's discussion as a part of my ongoing efforts in Congress to address the racial wealth gap, lift people out of poverty, and create economic opportunities for our nation's hardest hit communities, including parts of Los Angeles."
Rep. Waters said that as Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, "I am also committed to protecting consumers from bad actors in the marketplace and ensuring that our financial system is strong, safe, and fair. These issues can have a crippling effect on our most underserved communities, which are struggling to keep pace. I welcome the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco's proactive efforts to provide support to programs designed to improve the quality of life for families seeking not just an increase in wages, but the opportunity to build wealth and shore up economic security."
To help structure the initiative, FHLBank San Francisco is holding a series of seminars with local, regional, and national leaders in job creation and small business financing to discuss best practices for growing quality jobs in the region. Today's session at Southwest College follows a similar roundtable discussion in Las Vegas in March. Others will be held over the next six weeks in Phoenix, Sacramento, and the San Francisco Bay Area. The Aspen Institute, a partner in this effort, will assist in developing a white paper on the discussions, which will help shape the next phase of the initiative.
Today's session included two panel discussions, one on Quality Job Growth and the second on Business Expansion Financing. Panelists included Nicholas Weiner, National Political and Policy Director for the Change to Win/International Brotherhood of Teamsters joint Clean and Safe Port Trucks Campaign; Patrick Kelleher, President of the Hudson County (NJ) Building & Constructions Trades; Ai-jen Poo, Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Co-director of the Caring Across Generations campaign; Greg Gonzalez, Diversity and Workforce Planning Staffing Manager for SoCal Gas, and Jonathon Rosenthal, , Co-Founder, and Chairman at Saybrook Capital LLC. Gregory L. Moore, former Editor of The Denver Post, served as moderator of the discussions.
Lawrence H. Parks, Senior Vice President, Legislative and External Affairs, for FHLBank San Francisco, said, "It is critically important to identify what is working in communities because there is so much that is not working. The Bank saw an opportunity to start a dialogue and support innovations that can help move lower-income families up the economic ladder and reduce income inequality in our region."
Mr. Parks said that by helping to create better job opportunities in targeted areas, the initiative can also support families and individuals aspiring to purchase homes in the future.
"I think the nation has, at least temporarily, lost sight of the many benefits of homeownership, especially for families whose current income can't support purchasing a home; if a family's income increases, homeownership is more likely," Mr. Parks said, noting studies showing that homeownership is a factor in higher test scores for students, improved physical and psychological health outcomes, and a greater attachment to neighbors and neighborhoods.
Dean Schultz, president and CEO of FHLBank San Francisco, said that the Bank determined that one of the best ways to enable more families to afford to buy a home is to create more stable, middle-class jobs.
"We are pleased to be committing a substantial amount of funding to such a worthwhile cause, one that is good for our country," Mr. Schultz said. "FHLBank San Francisco is demonstrating that individual organizations, institutions, and corporations can help make a difference in communities that are often forgotten by policymakers in both the public and private sectors. We hope that will change."