Tovey hired to run new CDFI loan program

October 2018, CUJ

Dave Tovey

Dave Tovey

MISSION – Dave Tovey has been hired as the Executive Director for a new Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that will serve the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

Tovey, who was hired for the job by Wildhorse Resort & Casino, is the former Executive Director for the CTUIR. A member of the Confederated Tribes, Tovey most recently worked as a consultant to the Indian Land Tenure Foundation of Minneapolis, Minnesota, developing the trust land loan fund for individual Tribal members to acquire controlling interest in their allotments.

Tovey has also worked in top executive roles with the Siletz Tribal Business Corporation, Cayuse Technologies, the Coquille Indian Tribe, and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI) Economic Development Corporation. He also serves on the Board of Directors as a founding member for two other CDFIs—the Indian Land Capital Company and the ATNI Economic Development Corporation.

The CDFI is a program of the U.S. Department of Treasury. CDFIs are specialized financial institutions that serve geographically defined, low-income communities or populations that lack access to capital. Other regional Tribes have CDFIs, including Quinault, Nez Perce, Lummi, Colville, and the ATNI Economic Development Corporation.

The CDFI here, which at this point has not been named, came about after five years of discussion and organization. It started after a group of tribal leaders, including Wildhorse CEO Gary George, then CTUIR Board of Trustees Vice Chair Leo Stewart, and former Wildhorse Business Development Center Manager Kathleen Flanagan in 2013 attended a Social Entrepreneur Initiative. A grant from the Northwest Area Foundation produced a feasibility report in 2015 and a business plan was created a year later.

A CDFI Founder’s Committee was created that includes George, the Wildhorse CEO; Toni Minthorn, Credit Committee Board; Les Minthorn, Economic and Community Development Committee; Marlene Hale, Credit Program; Pamela Ranslam, Housing Homeownership Program; Kelly George, Land Committee; and Raven Manta, Business Development Services Program Coordinator, to provide guidance and to build the job description for the Executive Director.

Now it’s Tovey’s job to put together four programs into a single entity that will focus on loans and credit counseling.

The Tribal Credit Program and Arrowhead’s payday loans will be combined for coordinated loan products, and Wildhorse’s Business Development Services and the CTUIR Housing Department’s Financial Assistance Program will be combined for counseling, to establish the Community Development Financial Institution.

Tovey said the Umatilla CDFI is starting in a good position.

“A lot of CDFIs start up with a name and some grant money. Here we have a tribal loan program and a pretty good portfolio of loans along with solid client service outlets by the Business Development Center and the Homeownership Program at Housing,” Tovey said.

Tovey’s job for the next five to seven months is to build the organization as a non-profit corporation. Once he builds a budget, a physical location will be needed to accommodate as many as five or six people, Tovey said. A number of space opportunities are being considered.

“Once we do have a location we’ll be moving all those affected staff into the CDFI,” Tovey said. “We’re not taking control over them for a while. We’re building out the machinery first.”

But a lot of that machinery is already working.

The feasibility study, the business plan, and a couple of grants are in place and the program is capitalized with the current loan programs. Bylaws need to be written and a board of directors needs to be appointed by the CTUIR Board of Trustees.

“The reality is that is if it’s already functioning well independently I’m not going to mess with something too much,” Tovey said. “We are going to build out more loan products, though.”

Tovey hopes to develop partnerships with other lending institutions for possible home mortgage loans and possible small business loans.

Otherwise, “just about any lending product could be considered,” including car loans.

“That will be up to the board of directors, but it’s all viable,” Tovey said. Part of the counseling will include budgeting, which may encourage people to take out loans to consolidate credit card debt.

He said counseling also will likely suggest people use the 10 percent interest payday loans at Arrowhead less frequently.

“That’s not an effective interest rate,” Tovey said. “Ten percent over a two week period is huge if you annualize it. We want to line out a budget so people know costs and expenses. That said, the program is very popular with all the employees from various entities with folks using the program for gas purchases and emergency cash.”

Tovey said the CDFI program has become a reality thanks to the hard work of George, Flanagan, and Raven Manta, who runs the Wildhorse Business Development Services. Tovey noted the efforts of Raven who has “been working several jobs and keeping pace with partner CDFI’s and granting agencies.” Tovey is excited to get to work on the project.

“It’s pretty darn cool to be able to help with the individual side of the Tribal economy. Tribal government and the enterprises have built a huge employment base that many Tribes don’t have. People are increasingly wanting to build their own personal assets of retirement funds, homes, land, cars, and businesses. We hope to be a trusted resource to help along that way,” he said.