Dwain Neeley, Fahe’s Vice President of Community Lending, has served with our organization since the fall of 2018. Dwain comes from a background of 22 years of service in the United States Air Force followed by a 14 year career in corporate finance. After working several years in wealth management, Dwain found that, at the end of the day, that type of work wasn’t very fulfilling for him. When he learned Fahe was hiring a manager for Community Lending (CL), he jumped at the chance. Now, Dwain once again gets to work in Appalachia, where he grew up and once recruited for the Air Force. He realized that non-profit work is very similar to his military service – both are about giving and taking care of things. He is proud to be a part of the change that helps build the American Dream for our local communities.
Recently, I was able to sit down with Dwain and discuss his story, his role at Fahe, and what his team has been up to. Here are some highlights from that interview:
What is CL and how does it function?
Unlike Fahe’s Mortgage division JustChoice Lending, which lends to individuals, Community Lending is similar to commercial real-estate lending. For our projects, instead of looking at one house for a loan, we may be looking at a subdivision of 50 houses, an apartment complex, a day care center, a new school, new hospital, or one of many other community related projects. CL is on the community development side of things. Our mission is to help bring the funds to the rural communities of Appalachia to help empower growth.
Who can utilize CL?
We have different types of products and lending solutions. We can provide loans for nonprofits and for-profit businesses alike whose mission is related to community development. For example, I’m working on a loan right now for an affordable housing project in Lexington, KY along with a number of other projects across the entire Appalachia region. As long as the person or organization we’re working with has a mission geared towards community empowerment in rural communities, we may be able to work with them.
Why is it important that CL is present in Appalachia?
As a backbone organization, working with and through Fahe members and other organizations, Fahe has established deep relationships with the communities we serve and these relationships are a key piece in helping us to provide funding and investments to mission-minded groups. With these funds, rural communities can bring in infrastructure that may be needed to help attract new businesses which, in return, empowers the community. New economic growth gives hope to the folks living there, inspires those who have left to come back, and keeps these communities growing and thriving.
What does your average day look like at Fahe?
Every day is different. My role as the underwriter is very fluid. I review each potential project and perform the due diligence needed to ensure the project fits the Fahe mission and that the project can support the debt of the loan. I make sure everything is correct and in order to move the request through the underwriting system and to the loan committee for review for final approval. I’m also a loan originator, which means I’m out meeting with potential clients and discussing potential lending opportunities. A big part of my job is to gather the documentation needed from the borrower to perform a full and thorough underwriting, which is a risk analysis. Once that is done, we present the request to the loan committee. If the loan is approved, John Blankenship, Fahe’s Community Lending Portfolio Administrator, and I work with our attorneys to get legal documents needed to close the loan. After, the loan is closed, we continue to work with the borrower until the loan is paid in full.
What has been one of your favorite projects so far?
There has been a few, but one of my favorite projects has been the Riverplace Center for Recovery. It is a rehab center in Pikeville, Kentucky, and it’s the first one its kind in the area. It originally started out as a very small project that would only serve 16 individuals in recovery. Through some introductions Fahe was able to do with the owners, it grew. We introduced them to others working in recovery, as a result of the new partnerships the center will now serve up to 120 individuals. So they’re helping a lot of people. A memory that will stick with me always from Riverplace is the guys I saw coming into the center that very first day and then I saw them again at day 62. Their outlook on life and their plans have totally turned around since day one. They’re inspired about their future and that’s inspiring to me.
Lastly, what kind of loan programs exist through CL?
We offer loans through the USDA’s Community Facilities Relender Program, the US Department of Treasury’s Bond Guarantee Program and other Fahe lending funds. These funds can be used for project predevelopment, acquisition, construction, term, bridge, and working capital.
The Community Facilities Loan Program offers qualifying borrowers low, long-term fixed-interest terms. Funding is available to public bodies, Community-based non-profits, and federally recognized tribes in rural area to develop essential community facilities. These facilities could include, but are not limited to, health care facilities, community support services, educational services, or local food systems.
Through the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program, we also offer low, long-term fixed-interest terms. These funds are available to nonprofit and for profit organizations working in small business, nonprofits, healthcare, commercial real estate, and licensed senior living facilities. Like all of our funds, these funds are targeted toward rural communities.
We also offer Working Capital Lines of Credit and Mini-term Loans that may be used for any number of different needs an organization may have.
To learn more information on these programs or other Fahe loans, please contact Dwain Neeley at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (859) 756-6257.
To learn more about CL, visit https://fahe.org/community-lending/