Last week, U.S. Senator Steve Daines became one of the first co-sponsors of a bill that would permanently extend the New Markets Tax Credit, a federal program which has brought over $300 million of investment to Montana while creating over 3,500 jobs in the state since 2005. Most recently, with the help of MoFi and Western Security Bank, a Division of Glacier Bank the tax credit helped 100+-year-old nonprofit Billings Family Service expand to a much-needed new home this spring.
Family Service hosted the Senator at their future headquarters, a remodeled warehouse facility in the final stages of construction at 3927-3931 1st Avenue South. The new 57,000-sq-ft facility will more than triple the size of the nonprofit’s current location, providing space to expand programming for at-risk families in Yellowstone County including a client choice food box area, retail space for low/no cost clothing sales, workforce training space, a full teaching kitchen, and more. When it opens in late May 2019, the formerly vacant building’s new occupants will bring new resources and vitality to the Urban Renewal District in the heart of Billings’ south side.
The purchase and remodel of the new facility was made possible through the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) program, an innovative financing tool that incentivizes investment that directly benefits low income areas. MoFi, a nonprofit, community-based lender, helped bring the NMTC to the table. MoFi works with investors to turn the credits into cash, and then uses that cash to fund catalytic development projects in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. The NMTC completed a financing stack that also included proceeds from a capital campaign, and a loan from Western Security Bank in Billings.
Senator Daines toured the facility to show his support of permanently extending the tax credit, which is currently set to expire at the end of 2019. The Senator is a long-time proponent of the program and is one of the first U.S. Senators to co-sponsor a bipartisan bill that would permanently extend the NMTC.
“It’s great to see the Family Center prepare to open their new headquarters,” Daines said. “I’m glad that through this tax credit the Billings Family Center will finally have the resources they need to continue delivering critical services to Billings’ at-risk families.”
For over 100 years, Family Service has worked to help families and seniors in the greater Billings area achieve economic self-sufficiency through programs that alleviate hunger, homelessness and poverty. However, demand for the nonprofit’s programming has long outstripped the capacity of their current facility. In 2013, Family Service served 5,600 households, and by the end of 2018 they served over 15,000 households from the same space. The new location will triple Family Service’s square footage, creating space to expand programming and grow its staff.
“Billings has a very high population of people who are just getting by,” said Jane McCracken, Director of Campaign Development. “In the last six years, the number of households we serve has tripled, and we’re expecting another 30% increase in those numbers within the first year or two in our new space.” Family Service fundraised for the expansion, but there was still a gap in financing to get it across the finish line. That’s when they reached out to nonprofit lender MoFi to discuss solutions. “Without the New Markets Tax Credits from MoFi, we would have had to choose: afford the new buildings and cut back services, or keep operating within the limitations of our small facility.”
“Since 2009, MoFi has used New Markets Tax Credit financing to catalyze over $547 million in investments across Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming,” said Dave Glaser, MoFi President. “The support provided by Billings Family Service is absolutely critical to families in Yellowstone County—where so many people are one family emergency or health incident away from needing critical resources like food, housing, and job training. The New Markets Tax Credit and its focus on economically distressed communities was the perfect fit to bring this project to life. Thanks to Senator Daines for his hard work in the Senate to ensure that the program is extended permanently, and that all communities in Montana have the tools they need to achieve economic prosperity. ”
Family Service is one of three NMTC projects that MoFi has financed in Billings since 2012, alongside the Boyer Government Services Administration (GSA) building in the East Billings Renewal District and the Home2 Hotel in the North Park neighborhood. All three projects brought over $45 million of investment to economically distressed parts of the city.
“Western Security Bank, a Division of Glacier Bank, is pleased to be a part of the Family Service project,” said Anne DeBoo, Western Security Bank Vice President. “The facility will help breathe new life into this area of the Billings community. In addition, the new, larger facility will allow this long standing, non-profit agency to provide even more desperately needed services to our less fortunate friends and neighbors. Family Service will be able to greatly expand their food distribution program as well as other services that are so important to many of our citizens Western Security Bank is proud to have been involved with two of the three NMTC transactions in Billings and we are honored to work with the MoFi team and their clients. It’s projects like these that enhance the quality of life in our community for all.”
Since its implementation in 2000, the NMTC has leveraged some $80 billion in investments for communities around the country, resulting in over 1,000,000 jobs. According to the U.S. Treasury, for every $1 in federal funds, NMTC projects generate $8 in private investment. Senator Daines notes this is important because projects are driven at the local level.