The Rainier Valley Community Development Fund is a self-sustaining, community-controlled financial institution that preserves and strengthens cultural diversity, long-term livability, and economic opportunity for Rainier Valley residents, businesses, and institutions.
In response to community outcry organized by Save Our Valley over the disruption, displacement and community impact of an at-grade light rail project, the Sound Transit Board approved a $50 million transit-oriented community development fund (Fund) available to the Rainier Valley community to fund physical and economic improvements in the Central Link light rail corridor. The resolution called for the establishment of a community advisory panel to administer the Fund.
A steering committee was formed comprising of ten Rainier Valley community members and five Seattle, Sound Transit and King County representatives with the purpose of proposing a detailed operating plan for the Fund.
An operating plan was completed and approved by the Sound Transit Board and Seattle City Council, establishing a $21.5 million Supplemental Mitigation Account (SMA) to support businesses that were impacted by the light rail construction, $2 million for a job training program, and the remainder was appropriated for a Community Development Program (CDP) to create a self-sustaining, community-controlled fund that supports business and community development in Rainier Valley. Both the SMA and CDP are to benefit the residents, businesses and institutions of Southeast Seattle that will increase transit ridership within the geographic boundaries of the Fund.
The steering committee was dissolved and Rainier Valley Community Development Fund (RVCDF) was incorporated as a non-profit organization to implement and manage the programs created by the Fund.
First SMA program payment was paid in June to provide mitigation expenses to businesses disrupted by the light rail construction.
The Pre-Apprenticeship program began in November 2004 to provide Rainier Valley residents with job readiness training.
The operating plan was amended to target two lines of business for the CDP: 25% of the funds for business development to encourage small business formation, strengthen existing businesses, and promote job creation; and 75% for real estate development to encourage new catalyst development and physical improvements to Rainier Valley—including both new construction and rehabilitation of existing buildings—to stimulate economic activity, increase commercial inventory, and promote affordable housing for Rainier Valley residents.
The first CDP loan was funded for $1.1 million for the acquisition of a site for redevelopment.
RVCDF staff organized a group of business owners in the MLK business district and formed the MLK Business Association to promote the businesses along the MLK corridor with a vision to foster a culturally diverse business community as a destination in the Pacific Northwest.
RVCDF and MLK Business Association, in cooperation with Sound Transit and the City of Seattle Department of Transportation and Department of Neighborhoods, organized the MLK Safety Street Fair to promote safety awareness when riding the light rail and to shop the diverse businesses along MLK. The fair was attended by over 3,000 people.
RVCDF was bestowed the Audrey Nelson Community Development Achievement Award by the National Community Development Association in recognition of the exemplary and innovative use of the Community Development Block Grant funds to address the needs of low and moderate income families, homes and neighborhoods.
The SMA program was completed, disbursing $15.2 million to 183 businesses impacted by the light rail construction from 2003 to 2009.
Link light rail opens for passenger service between downtown Seattle and Tukwila with the inaugural ribbon cutting at Mt. Baker Station.
The Pre-Apprenticeship program, funded by an $855,600 grant, concluded in mid-2010 with 68 residents completing vocational training and 76 residents placed in construction or construction-related jobs. Over 90% of program participants were ethnic minorities and women.
Former Seattle City Council member and interim RVCDF executive director Richard McIver was honored at the RVCDF 10th annual meeting for his leadership in establishing RVCDF and as an advocate for serving the diverse population of Southeast Seattle. His determination resulted in the $50 million fund that benefited the Rainier Valley community and its businesses during the construction of the light rail project, and continues to support the businesses with RVCDF’s revolving loan fund.
RVCDF becomes self-sustaining. Interest and fee revenue from its outstanding loan portfolio of $21.5 million has reached a level that adequately covers the costs of program and administration operations.
The remaining CDP funds appropriated to the Fund was disbursed, culminating in a total of $25.6 million of original capital for 36 loans to 31 businesses and non-profit organizations during the period from 2006 to 2016.
RVCDF was certified by the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Fund, a program of the US Treasury Department, opening opportunities to apply for grant and loan funds from the CDFI and other capital sources.
Patricia Pascal, former RVCDF board member, RVCDF steering committee member, Save Our Valley member, and community activist, was honored at the RVCDF annual meeting for her life-long commitment to RVCDF and the Rainier Valley community.
If your business or residence is located in southeast Seattle and your company has been in business for at least one year, Rainier Valley Community Development Fund will work with you on your specific financing needs. Take a few minutes to complete a loan inquiry now.