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All of us at Community First Fund are devastated by the shocking murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others that have highlighted the injustice and oppression prevalent throughout our country. Recent tragic events taking place in our communities are a result of deep-rooted systemic racism and years of pent-up fear, frustration, and hopelessness that is a reality of life for People of Color, particularly African-Americans.

Our team is a diverse group of dedicated changemakers driven by our mission of social justice. The reality is that some of our employees have benefitted from the sin of white privilege and they stand in solidarity with their fellow team members who have been historically oppressed. We strive to right that wrong, not just for them, but for all whose lives are impacted by racism.

Nearly thirty years ago, Community First Fund was founded by a coalition of African-American, Latino, and White community leaders. We have marched silently with others over the past days, months, and years to advance economic and social justice for disenfranchised individuals and communities. We work in solidarity with our brothers and sisters and are committed to aligning capital with justice so we may increase opportunities for economic prosperity for all.

Today, Community First Fund continues the mission of our founders and envisions vibrant and diverse communities where ALL individuals prosper and are free from poverty and discrimination. Our team stands together. Please join the fight.

 

  • Posted on: April 10th, 2017

    Community First Fund and Zamagias Properties Announce Funding for Major Lancaster Redevelopment Project with $8 Million New Markets Tax Credit Investment

    Lancaster, PA (April 10, 2017) – This afternoon Daniel Betancourt, president and CEO of Community First Fund, along with David Martens, president and CFO of Zamagias Properties, Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray, Lancaster County Commissioner Dennis Stuckey, State Representative Mike Sturla, and Gerald Meck, Community First Fund board member, formally announced a significant New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) allocation for a major revitalization project in the heart of Lancaster.

    Zamagias Properties received an $8 million New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) allocation from Community First Fund for the extensive renovation of the former Bulova Building located at 101 North Queen Street. The $28.5 million revitalization project, previously announced by Zamagias earlier this year, involves the transformation of the vacant manufacturing facility into a vibrant, mixed-use complex which will be named 101 NQ. Once completed, 101 NQ will contain 21,000 square feet of retail space, 90,000 square feet of office space, 35 apartment units, and 35 parking spaces. The top floor, which will house condominium units, is not covered by this allocation. The project is expected to create 195 full-time jobs in addition to 45 construction jobs.

    “Our goal is to transform communities,” says Dan Betancourt. “This project will convert the most important, undeveloped property in the city into a hub of activity. It will make a significant impact on those that live and work in the city of Lancaster.”

    This is the fourth project in Lancaster to receive a NMTC allocation from Community First Fund over the past three years. SACA’s Tec Centro training center received a $3.35 million allocation in 2014 and SACA’s Conestoga River Plaza project (16,150 square feet of commercial and retail space currently being developed at 902 South Duke Street), received a $4.5 million allocation in 2016. Last month, Community First announced a $6.25 million allocation to the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry for the purchase and renovation of its new headquarters at 115 East King Street. The $8 million allocation announced today brings the total NMTC allocations that Community First Fund has awarded to projects in Lancaster to $22.1 million.

    The New Market Tax Credit Program (NMTC Program) is a prospective source of funding for the construction or major improvement of a commercial building in qualified census tracts, specifically where the poverty rate is at least 20% of the community. It incentivizes business and real estate companies to invest in these low-income communities through a federal tax credit. The program is directed by the US Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund and allocated by local Community Development Entities (CDEs) across the United States. Community First Fund is one of those CDE’s and has provided $90 million in New Market Tax Credits to revitalize low-income communities throughout central Pennsylvania since 2013.
    download this release here

  • Posted on: April 6th, 2017

    Community First Fund and Ashley Development Corporation Announce Major Revitalization Project in the City of Easton

    Easton, PA (April 6, 2017) – This afternoon Daniel Betancourt, president and CEO of Community First Fund, along with Louis Pektor, president of Ashley Development Corporation, The Honorable Salvatore Panto, Jr., mayor of Easton, Carlos Lopez, Community First Fund board member, April Niver, Economic Development Director, U.S. House of Representatives – 17th Congressional District of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Thomas Lubben, founder of the Easton Arts Academy Elementary Charter School, formally announced a significant New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) allocation for a revitalization project in Easton.

    30 North Fourth St., L.P., an affiliate of Ashley Development Corporation, received a $5 million New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) allocation from Community First Fund for the renovation of the former Express-Times building, located on 30 North 4th St., which will house the future Easton Arts Academy Elementary Charter School. When construction is completed, the 41,149 square-foot building will contain 24 classrooms, dance and gymnastics studios, a theatre, cafeteria, and offices. It is expected that the school will create 68 new fulltime jobs in downtown Easton. Construction has already started and the school will open its doors in the fall of 2017.

    The Easton Arts Academy Elementary Charter School, founded by Dr. Thomas Lubben, will play a big role in improving the quality of life for many in Easton. The school has filled almost all of their available K-5 student slots, with an estimated 90% of the enrollees coming from low income families.

    “Early childhood education is critical to eliminating poverty and transforming communities,” says Dan Betancourt, CEO of Community First Fund. “These children are our future leaders and will grow while gaining an appreciation for learning and the arts. We are happy to support Ashley Development and the school as they work together to make this project a reality. ”

    The New Market Tax Credit Program (NMTC Program) is a prospective source of funding for the construction or major improvement of a commercial building in qualified census tracts, specifically where the poverty rate is at least 20% of the community. It incentivizes business and real estate companies to invest in these low-income communities through a federal tax credit. The program is directed by the US Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund and allocated by local Community Development Entities (CDEs) across the United States. Community First Fund is one of those CDE’s and has provided $90 million in New Market Tax Credits to revitalize low-income communities throughout eastern Pennsylvania since 2013.
    download this release here

  • Posted on: April 6th, 2017

    Community First Fund and Monarch Development Announce Major Construction Project in the City of Lebanon

    Lebanon, PA (April 6, 2017) – This morning Daniel Betancourt, president and CEO of Community First Fund, along with Aaron Camara, president of Monarch Development, The Honorable Sherry Capello, mayor of Lebanon, Betsy Bowman, Executive Director of the Lebanon County Redevelopment Authority, and Daniel Beck, vice president, senior lending for Community First Fund, formally announced a significant New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) allocation for a major construction project in downtown Lebanon.

    Monarch Development, LLC, received a $5.5 million New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) allocation from Community First Fund for the construction of a new strip mall in downtown Lebanon. Known as the Partridge Street Redevelopment Project, the shopping center will be built on a 3.25 acre tract of land which was purchased from the City of Lebanon and feature several out-parcels, including a national retail store and a restaurant. However, the primary feature of this project is the 13,000 square-foot grocery store that will anchor the strip mall. The USDA has designated this area a “food desert” due to the lack of access to full-service grocery stores with healthy food options. (Heavily populated areas become “food deserts,” which the U.S. Department of Agriculture defines as a low-income area where a substantial share of residents live more than 1 mile from a supermarket or large grocery store.)

    “Providing access to a grocery store and healthy foods is a critical issue in underserved communities,” says Dan Betancourt. “This project will help make Lebanon a better and healthier place for low income individuals to live and prosper. We are proud to be assisting Aaron Camara with this project.”

    The New Market Tax Credit Program (NMTC Program) is a prospective source of funding for the construction or major improvement of a commercial building in qualified census tracts, specifically where the poverty rate is at least 20% of the community. It incentivizes business and real estate companies to invest in these low-income communities through a federal tax credit. The program is directed by the US Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund and allocated by local Community Development Entities (CDEs) across the United States. Community First Fund is one of those CDE’s and has provided $90 million in New Market Tax Credits to revitalize low-income communities throughout central Pennsylvania since 2013.
    download this release here

  • Posted on: April 5th, 2017

    Community First Fund and Shuman Development Group Announce Major Revitalization Project in Reading

    Reading, PA (April 5, 2017) – This morning Daniel Betancourt, president and CEO of Community First Fund, along with Alan Shuman, president and CEO of Shuman Development Group, State Senator Judith Schwank, Berks County Commissioner Christian Leinbach, Randy Peers, president and CEO of the Greater Reading Chamber and Economic Development Corporation, and Jonathan Encarnacion, Community First Fund board member, formally announced a significant New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) allocation for a major revitalization project currently underway in the heart of Reading.

    Shuman Development Group received an $8.25 million New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) allocation from Community First Fund for the extensive renovation of the former, historic Abraham Lincoln Hotel located at 100 North 5th Street. The Lincoln Towers project is an $11 million revitalization project which will transform the old hotel into a vibrant, mixed-use complex. Once completed, Lincoln Towers will contain 98 affordable-rate apartments, 10 retail spaces, and an adjacent 310 spot parking garage. The project is expected to create 60 full-time jobs in addition to 92 construction jobs.

    Some tenants slated for this building include Abilities in Motion, the expansion of an existing, adjacent pharmacy, and the already established Abe’s By Chef Alan restaurant. The 10,000 square foot Presidential Ballroom will also remain open as a venue for weddings and other catered events.

    The Lincoln Towers project is a renovation that will have a great impact on the city of Reading thanks to the affordable housing the project will provide. It demonstrates the commitment of both Shuman Development Group and Community First Fund to improving Reading.

    “Our goal is to transform communities,” says Dan Betancourt. “Alan Shuman has proved time and again that he is dedicated to the revitalization of Reading and the quality of life for its residents. We are very pleased to be involved in a project that will create much-needed housing and new retail establishments in the city.”

    This project is the third by Shuman Development to receive a NMTC allocation from Community First Fund over the past four years. The Big Mill Apartment project received a $6.75 million allocation in 2014 and the 645 Penn St. Project (former Exide Building) received a $6 Million allocation in 2015. The $8.25 million allocation announced today brings the total NMTC allocations that Community First Fund has awarded to projects in Reading to $21 million.

    The New Market Tax Credit Program (NMTC Program) is a prospective source of funding for the construction or major improvement of a commercial building in qualified census tracts, specifically where the poverty rate is at least 20% of the community. It incentivizes business and real estate companies to invest in these low-income communities through a federal tax credit. The program is directed by the US Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund and allocated by local Community Development Entities (CDEs) across the United States. Community First Fund is one of those CDE’s and has provided $90 million in New Market Tax Credits to revitalize low-income communities throughout central Pennsylvania since 2013.
    download this release here

  • Posted on: March 31st, 2017

    Community First Fund and Royal Square Development and Construction Announce Major Revitalization Project in the City of York

    York, PA (March 31, 2017) – This morning Daniel Betancourt, president and CEO of Community First Fund, along with Joshua Hankey, president of Royal Square Development and Construction (RSDC), Congressman Scott Perry, State Representative Carol Hill-Evans, Shilvosky Buffaloe, acting director of the Department of Economic and Community Development for the City of York, and Eric Menzer, Community First Fund board chair, formally announced a significant New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) allocation for another revitalization project in downtown York.

    Landmark Properties, L.P., an affiliate of Susquehanna Renovations, Inc. and RSDC, received a $7 million New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) allocation from Community First Fund for the substantial renovation of two buildings located along Market Street. What will be known as the Landmark Properties Project encompasses a $7.3 million renovation effort of two separate mixed use buildings located at 101 East Market Street and 335-351 West Market Street. 4-7 new retail spaces will be created in the two buildings, as well as 23 apartments. Renovations to the two buildings are scheduled to begin at the start of August, 2017 and to be completed by September, 2018. It is estimated that the project will also generate 42 new full-time jobs and 50 construction jobs.

    The new Landmark Properties Project will make an additional impact on the City of York and demonstrates both Community First Fund’s and RSDC’s continued commitment to the revitalization of the York community.

    “Our goal is to transform communities,” says Dan Betancourt. “This is the second time we have worked with Josh Hankey and his team at RSDC on a York project. We share their vision and commitment to making a positive impact on the City of York.”

    This is the third project in York to receive a NMTC allocation from Community First Fund over the past four years. The York Academy Regional Charter School received a $5.5 million allocation in 2014 and the Market Street Revitalization Project, which is nearing completion in downtown York, received an $8.75 million allocation in 2016. The $7 million allocation announced today brings the total NMTC allocations that Community First Fund has awarded to projects in York up to $21.25 million.

    The New Market Tax Credit Program (NMTC Program) is a prospective source of funding for the construction or major improvement of a commercial building in qualified census tracts, specifically where the poverty rate is at least 20% of the community. It incentivizes business and real estate companies to invest in these low-income communities through a federal tax credit. The program is directed by the US Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund and allocated by local Community Development Entities (CDEs) across the United States. Community First Fund is one of those CDE’s and has provided $90 million in New Market Tax Credits to revitalize low-income communities throughout central Pennsylvania since 2013.
    download this release here

  • Posted on: March 28th, 2017

    Community First Fund Announces $6.25 million New Markets Tax Credit Allocation for Lancaster Chamber Renovation Project

    Lancaster, PA (March 28, 2017) – Community First Fund is pleased to formally announce a significant New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) allocation for a revitalization project in downtown Lancaster.

    The Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) received a $6.25 million New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) allocation from Community First Fund for the substantial renovation of its new headquarters located at 115 E. King Street in downtown Lancaster. The new, larger headquarters allows the Chamber to serve approximately 3,300 people over the next three years by providing training in business development, success and growth. Five tenants sharing the space include the Economic Development Co. of Lancaster County, Lancaster City Alliance, Central Penn Business Group on Health, Leadership Lancaster and Junior Achievement of South Central PA.

    The construction project was financed by BB&T Bank. The NMTC allocation from Community First Fund will have a significant impact on the next stage of financing with Fulton Bank.

    The LCCI made substantial renovations the previously vacant property on East King Street. The 3-story building includes a two-deck, 42-space parking garage (street level and basement), and three stories of offices totaling 28,959 SF. In addition to offices for the LCCI and its tenants, the LCCI is dedicating over 8,000 SF to training classrooms for business development.

    This project further revitalizes a former blighted block as the East King corridor gains new retail establishments and increased foot traffic. Over the past few years, Community First Fund has provided approximately $15 million in financing for many businesses along East King Street including the Historic East Side Suites, Excelsior, Hair at DFB Studios, El Jardin Flowers & Gifts, and La Cocina Restaurant.

    “Our goal is to revitalize communities,” says Dan Betancourt. “The LCCI made a deliberate decision to stay in city’s central business district and to further advance all the positive activity taking place on Lancaster’s east side.”

    This is the third project in Lancaster to receive a NMTC allocation from Community First Fund over the past three years. SACA’s Tec Centro training center received a $3.35 million allocation in 2014 and SACA’s Conestoga River Plaza project (16,150 square feet of commercial and retail space currently being developed at 902 South Duke Street) received a $4.5 million allocation in 2016. The $6.25 million allocation announced today brings the total NMTC allocations that Community First Fund has awarded to projects in Lancaster up to $14.1 million.

    The New Market Tax Credit Program (NMTC Program) is a prospective source of funding for the construction or major improvement of a commercial building in qualified census tracts, specifically where the poverty rate is at least 20% of the community. It incentivizes business and real estate companies to invest in these low-income communities through a federal tax credit. The program is directed by the US Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund and allocated by local Community Development Entities (CDEs) across the United States. Community First Fund is one of those CDE’s and has provided $90 million in New Market Tax Credits to revitalize low-income communities throughout central Pennsylvania since 2013.
    download this release here

  • Posted on: March 13th, 2017

    Community First Fund Announces New Vice President to Lead Loan Administration

    Ramon Estevez

    Lancaster, PA (March 13, 2017) – Community First Fund announces the hiring of Ramon Estevez as their new Vice President, Loan Administration. Estevez will oversee loan application, underwriting, closing and collections processes, loan portfolio analysis, and risk management for the organization.

    Estevez has accrued almost 20 years of financial banking experience, starting in Santiago, Chile and continuing in the U.S. since 2004. He had previously worked for CHN Industrial, VIST Bank, and Republic First Bank.

    Estevez received his Professional Degree from Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile and received his MBA from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Ramon resides with his family in Strasburg.
    download this release here

  • Posted on: December 12th, 2016

    Lancaster Nonprofit to Invest up to $5M in Living-wage Jobs

    By Lenay Ruhl, Central Penn Business Journal (December 12, 2016)

    A Lancaster-based nonprofit plans to sink money into businesses that pledge to create living-wage jobs in Lancaster County.

    Community First Fund will invest in businesses that are committed to providing jobs that pay at least $15 per hour, said Dan Betancourt, Community First’s president and CEO.

    Community First, which provides loans and other resources for under-served communities in about 13 counties across the state, hopes to raise $5 million for what it is calling the Grow Jobs for Lancaster Fund.

    The goal is to create 300 living-wage jobs in Lancaster County.
    read the entire article here

  • Posted on: September 1st, 2016

    Community First Fund Announces New VP for Community Lending for the Capital Region

    Kenneth Hammaker

    Lancaster, PA (September 1, 2016) – Community First Fund announces the appointment of Kenneth Hammaker as Vice President, Community Lending for the Capital Region. Hammaker will be working out of community First Funds’ new office located at 922N. 3rd, Street in midtown Harrisburg.

    A resident of Mechanicsburg, Hammaker has 20 years of small business and commercial lending experience. Prior to joining Community First Fund, he held commercial lending positions at PNC Bank, Metro Bank/ FNB, M&T Bank and Susquehanna Bank/BB&T. Hammaker holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Elizabethtown College.
    download this release here

  • Posted on: August 9th, 2016

    Community First Fund Promotes Regional Lender to VP for Community Lending for Berks County

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