​​Looking for New Community Development Partners? Have You Considered the EPA?

One of the program areas of NCUA's Office of Small Credit Union Initiatives is partnerships and outreach. In this role, OSCUI staff engage with other federal agencies and nonprofit organizations to identify resources and opportunities for credit unions, particularly those that are small, lowincome designated, minority depository institutions or newly chartered. The goal of these engagements is to expand the programs, resources and services available to help credit unions meet their members' needs.

Recently, NCUA staff met with representatives of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Sustainable Communities. We were surprised to learn of EPA's role and resources dedicated to encouraging community development, and their interest in working with credit unions.

Here's an quick overview of the office and its activities:

  • The EPA's Office of Sustainable Communities works at the intersection of land use and economic development to help communities ensure that the next increment of growth improves the environment, protects human health, produces better fiscal outcomes and supports efforts to address climate change.
  • Since 1995, the Office of Sustainable Communities has worked in partnership with hundreds of communities— from urban to rural and tribal to support both shortterm and long-range economic revitalization efforts.
  • The work with communities includes developing tools to support local decision-making. For example, the Framework for Creating a Smart Growth Economic Development Strategy: A Tool for Small Cities and Towns is a systematic guide to building a local economic development strategy. Based on work with the city of Kelso, Washington, this case study is for small and midsized cities, particularly those that have limited population growth, areas of disinvestment or a struggling economy.

The Office of Sustainable Communities is interested in working with credit unions that share the belief that great places are created when investments align with the community's vision. The office is looking to provide support to low- to moderate-income communities; many of these places are the same ones that credit unions have spent decades building relationships and making desperately needed loans to support local economic growth.

Local partners also need help from financial professionals to put their development plans into motion. Similarly, credit unions can benefit from new investment opportunities in their local communities.

To learn more about the Office of Sustainable Communities and its resources and partnerships, go to http://go.usa.gov/cAh4m.