I want to introduce you to a clever finance guy who is masquerading as a marketing guy. I find this oddly refreshing, aside from the fact that it was so damned successful.

John Kuhry of the California EDFC, worked with John Katovich and Kim Arnone of Cutting Edge Capital to offer a Direct Public Offering (DPO) in California to raise money for the community development finance institution so that they could loan it out to deserving small businesses. A DPO is another type of exempt investment opportunity that allows unaccredited (regular) citizens to become investors.

“Through a historic new community-based Local Social Impact Investment Note, California residents can harness the power of local investment and help launch the Mendocino Wool Mill project. Economic Development & Financing Corporation (EDFC) offers investors an opportunity to shift their money from Wall Street to “Main Street” with this Direct Public Offering, the first of its kind in the state of California.”

The DPO is the big brother of Oregon’s CPO, and aligned under federal rules. They are both intrastate, and require all investors to live within the state of the offering. In other words, investors in these kinds of offerings are required to invest in their own state. Pretty great.

Instead of starting with how wonderful the Direct Public Offering is, which they could have, or describing how wonderful an organization they are, which they certainly could have done, they created a video of their first client who would be served if they raise sufficient capital, essentially putting the loan recipient first – as it should be.

This was brilliant.

Invest in the Mendocino Wool Mill | DPO from EDFC on Vimeo.


It is also accurate. It is about as compelling, touching, and engaging a video story as I’ve ever seen. I mean, baby sheep?

This video is about something that does not yet exist, and will not exist unless the CDFI that has agreed to loan them money gets the needed investment from California residents. The good news? Last week, they exceeded their goal of $350,000 and raised $356,000. (In fact, tomorrow February 9 is the deadline!)

“Matt & Sarah Gilbert are shovel-ready and this Direct Public Offering will provide the crucial capital needed to open their doors.

Our aim is to raise a total of $350K – the amount needed for the Wool Mill to be fully operational out of the gates. The deadline for all investments is February 9, 2016. Join us today!”

$356,000 raised to date! 72 individual investors, 10 organizations. Average investment: $4,341

This is one example of how communities can generate capital to grow their own businesses.
This loan, and the mill, can have enormous impact throughout their community and larger region. As you dig into this story you realize how many lives will be affected in the radius that this woolen mill will inhabit. And, because the money is coming in from local community members they will certainly be vested in the success of this mill. As well as, we assume, the effectiveness of that community development finance institution. This type of bond strengthens the ties of community capital.
Want to learn more about how this worked? Both John Katovich and John Kuhry will be at ComCap16 to share their story, and help other CDFIs imagine how to use innovative finance laws to help.
Other examples will be shared from around the country that offer up new ideas for how to leverage finance innovation into community value.

Congratulations John! I look forward to seeing you both at ComCap16 on April 26-28th.

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