Gingras Global Magazine Fall 2017 - Page 48

Battle Creek Community Foundation Embraces Impact Investing

continued....Q & A with Brenda Hunt and Romy Kochan

Romy Kochan: The community foundation is considering different types of impact investments in Battle Creek, including some projects that will spur small business. That seems to go against the grain from what community foundations typically do. What’s your motivation to fund small-business projects?

Brenda Hunt: This is really quite simple: Battle Creek needs to create more wealth. I don’t necessarily mean wealthy people. (Instead, we need more) wealth in the sense of increasing income for the quality of life of the people who live here. We cannot make positive progress if a third of our population lives in poverty.

One of the largest sources of wealth in this country is in the creation and operation of small businesses. The Battle Creek Community Foundation exists as a result of the generosity of the people who make financial gifts to us; generous individuals who trust in us and gives us their excess wealth. The future of the Battle Creek Community Foundation is directly connected to the future wealth of the people who will be here in 10, 20 and 30 years to make gifts to us. We are the community, and the community is us.

Romy Kochan: Gingras Global had the privilege of working with the Battle Creek Community Foundation on an impact investment to help restore the iconic Heritage Tower in downtown Battle Creek. Let's first talk about why your impact investing task force felt this was a good move.

Brenda Hunt: Heritage Tower is a historical landmark in downtown Battle Creek. The successful renovation and operation of this project is a signal to the community that we are on a comeback — it is a sign of life in downtown Battle Creek. People reminisce about what Heritage Tower used to be and their memories that go back many years. When a potential investment opportunity came, that would protect and preserve the building while the entire investment stack would be finalized, it was something that our task force was extremely interested in. After our due diligence, it was an investment that we had to make for the community.