Last week, the Native CDFI Network (NCN) CEO Pete Upton participated in a discussion on opportunities for private lending and investment in Indian Country, during the National Interagency Community Reinvestment Conference (NICRC) in Portland, Oregon. This conference, sponsored by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), offered a platform for sharing community development insights and best practices.

During the event, Upton made a direct plea to the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) staff present, urging them to proactively reach out and enable NCN to serve as the conduit connecting Native CDFIs and Indian Country. He emphasized the exceptional performance of Native CDFIs, citing their minimal delinquency and default rates compared to other financial institutions. Upton stressed the significance of utilizing these reliable entities as partners in driving positive community development outcomes in Indian Country. By advocating for increased collaboration between banks and Native CDFIs, Upton aimed to foster more impactful and effective investment strategies aligned with the goals of the CRA.

Upton acknowledged the ongoing legal challenges in the courts regarding the newly revised CRA regulations but urged the audience to look beyond these obstacles and start investing in Indian Country immediately. He emphasized the importance of not letting legal uncertainties hinder proactive steps towards economic development and investment in Native communities. Additionally, Upton addressed the modifications to the CRA regulations, highlighting how these changes streamlined the process for financial institutions to receive credit for their efforts in Indian Country. By discussing these regulatory updates, Upton aimed to capitalize on the momentum generated by the NICRC and encourage further engagement in supporting economic growth and development in Native communities.