• Amir Kirkwood President & Chief Executive Officer

To all our partners, customers, and communities: we at Locus wish you the happiest of holiday seasons! As we wrap up 2023, I’m taking a moment to reflect on what we have achieved together and look forward to what’s to come in 2024.

As I’ve shared, 2023 began with the completion of our three-year strategic plan. Along with setting the course for our next chapter of impact, that process allowed us to take stock of our mission, vision, and values. It was vital that these guiding principles reflected our “why” – the reason we do this important work and the world we wish to see. We hope you see us – and yourself – in our refreshed mission and vision statements:

  • Our mission: We create equitable access to capital by developing community partnerships and innovative tools that tackle systemic challenges and advance promising opportunities.
  • Our vision: We envision a world where all people and places have the capital and ecosystem partners needed to realize prosperous futures.

Equipped with a refreshed strategic direction and a strong 17-year foundation as Virginia Community Capital, we spent much of the year rebranding the organization to reflect our commitment to growth, deep partnership, and investment in communities in Virginia and beyond. Our new identity, Locus, puts our focus on place right in our name. As Locus, we bring together all our products and services – banking, lending, advisory services, fund design and management, and financial guarantees – to be a more impactful partner to all our customers and communities.

As a community development financial institution (CDFI), we know that realizing our vision requires us to cultivate partnerships. Through our rebranding exercise, we sought deeper engagement with other CDFIs and public sector partners, and we uncovered opportunities to meet the increasing need for financing climate solutions and healthy food access to complement our core work in affordable housing and small business lending. Whether impact investors, foundations, the public sector, other intermediaries, or community organizations, likeminded partners enable Locus to drive change down to the most local level.

I am proud of our accomplishments in 2023 and all the hard work past and present that made them possible. Here are some highlights resulting from your partnership and our team’s steadfast dedication to our collective mission:

  • We completed our 2023-25 strategic plan, which set a path to greater impact over the next three years.
  • We successfully unified all our business lines, including the bank, loan fund, advisory services, fund design and management practice, and guarantee business, under a new brand.
  • We embraced a place-based investment strategy and piloted this new way of partnering in a Virginia community.
  • We developed our theory of change, which is grounded in the Social Determinants of Health and driven by community partnership.
  • We committed to assessing and reducing our carbon footprint by joining the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF).
  • In partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, we launched the Kansas City Credit Enhancement Fund, a vehicle that harnesses the power of guarantees to enable greater access to capital for small business owners and entrepreneurs of color.
  • We partnered with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Council for Development Finance Agencies to pilot the Equitable Capital Loan Guarantee Program to support increased finance agency lending to diverse small businesses.
  • We financed a 1.8MW solar project sponsored by the New York City Housing Authority, providing clean energy across six campuses of public housing and reducing residents’ energy costs.
  • Our lending supported the development of 556 affordable housing units, the creation of over 350 jobs, and over 2,400 megawatt hours of solar energy.
  • The Community Investment Guarantee Pool grew to include 17 guarantors who have committed $66 million in unfunded guarantees. CIGP will unlock over $232 million in community development capital through the guarantees it has deployed so far.
  • Locus received a $12 million gift from MacKenzie Scott in recognition of CIGP’s impact and growth.
  • The Capital Region Small Business Development Center, which is hosted by Locus, is one of the top three performing SBDCs in Virginia. Its small but mighty team serves over 700 small businesses and entrepreneurs in the Capital Region.
  • Our team of thought leaders supported field-building by participating in panels at conferences and events hosted by Opportunity Finance Network, the Community Development Bankers Association, Accelerator for America, and the Federal Reserve Bank, to name a few.
  • We hosted our annual partner convening, The Learning Exchange, which featured a keynote address from Donna Gambrell, CEO of Appalachian Community Capital and former Director of the CDFI Fund. This year’s Learning Exchange also served as the launch and celebration of our new brand, Locus.

2023 has been a year of exciting change for our organization, and October marked my second anniversary as its President and CEO. In those two years, I have had the privilege of meeting and engaging with so many of you, and I’ve benefited from your commitment and partnership on my journey so far. In 2024, we’ll create greater impact in key sectors by building innovative tools and partnerships through community-led engagement that supports equitable development beyond direct financing.

Through an integrated approach that leverages our lending, advisory, and guarantee expertise, we’ll expand our place-based investment strategy to new communities in Virginia and explore opportunities to engage markets outside of the Commonwealth. We look forward to increased collaboration with CDFIs and other impact investors through mission-driven partnerships and transformative funding opportunities for our field. Our ears and inboxes are open – we invite you to share your vision for more equitable communities and economies.

On behalf of our Locus team, I thank you for your partnership this year, and I look forward to our continued collaboration in 2024.

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