Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Policy Point Wednesday: Investing in the Food Desert

A friend recently forwarded me this press release:  "New York, June 23, 2011 -- Chase announced today that it will make investments through the New Markets Tax Credits program to support the new construction of and improvements to grocery stores and other initiatives to provide more fresh and healthy foods in low-income neighborhoods across the country."

The New Markets Tax Credits Program is a program of the US Treasury, under the CDFI (Community Development Financial Institutions) fund.  "The NMTC Program attracts investment capital to low-income communities by permitting individual and corporate investors to receive a tax credit against their Federal income tax return in exchange for making equity investments in specialized financial institutions called Community Development Entities (CDEs). The credit totals 39 percent of the original investment amount and is claimed over a period of seven years (five percent for each of the first three years, and six percent for each of the remaining four years). The investment in the CDE cannot be redeemed before the end of the seven-year period." In this case, Chase Bank will be overseeing CDEs for their food desert initiative.

As readers of this blog know, I'm a big fan of mapping software, and the CDFI, which targets struggling communities, offers its users geocodable mapping software to identify eligible areas.  Unfortunately, this software isn't available to the general public - it would be very interesting to compare it to the various food desert maps I've seen while researching this project.  Meanwhile, kudos to Chase for targeting these dollars towards food infrastructure.

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