Craft3 opens Spokane office

By: Judith Spitzer - Apr 23, 2015
Source: Spokane Journal of Business

Nontraditional lender now has operations in seven Northwest cities

Craft3, a nonprofit lender based in the southwestern Washington city of Ilwaco, has opened a Spokane office in the Peyton Building, at 10 N. Post downtown, says Susan Doll, Craft3’s senior business lender here. 

The new Spokane office is located in about 1,700 square feet of space and employs three people, including Doll, who previously worked at RiverBank here. 

Founded in 1994, the organization has a total of 54 employees. In addition to its offices in Ilwaco and Spokane, it has operations in Seattle and Port Angeles, Wash., and Bend, Astoria, and Portland, Ore. 

Craft3 specializes in lending to borrowers, including people and businesses, who can’t get funding from traditional sources, Doll says. 

“We have provided over $322 million in financial support to more than 4,000 people in the Pacific Northwest region, through our wide variety of loan programs,” she says.

Overall, Doll says the nonprofit manages $175 million in assets. In 2014 alone, Craft3 lent more than $49 million. Loans typically range from $50,000 up to $5 million, she says. 

The nonprofit is funded by donations, grants and loans from financial, corporate, philanthropic and religious institutions, she says. Recent funders include Banner Bank, Heritage Bank, the U.S. Department of Treasury Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Fund, and the Washington state Department of Commerce, she adds. 

A CDFI is a specialized financial institution that works in market niches underserved by traditional financial institutions. CDFIs provide a range of financial products and services in economically distressed target markets, such as mortgage financing for low-income and first-time homebuyers and not-for-profit developers, flexible underwriting and risk capital for needed community facilities, and technical assistance, commercial loans and investments to small start-up or expanding businesses in low-income areas. 

Doll says the organization’s client base is made up of 30 percent women-owned businesses, 32 percent male-owned businesses, 35 percent owned by male and female partners, and 3 percent nonprofit organizations. 

“We lend to businesses, government agencies and individuals who care about the region,” Doll says. 

She says Craft3 looks to see that a borrower supports Craft3’s mission, as well as possessing positive financial projections, a business plan, and expertise in an industry. 

“We also provide financing to businesses in the turnaround mode, and for those businesses we like to see a viable plan for future growth,” Doll says. “We also like to see that they’re passionate about what they’re doing.”

Doll says Craft3 began looking into opening an office here after being approached by Ben Stuckart, Spokane City Council president, and Antony Chiang, president of the Empire Health Foundation here. Both men were interested in bringing the organization to Spokane at the same time as the organization was looking to open new offices in Eastern Washington.

After researching Craft3 and its mission, Stuckart says he invited the organization to Spokane last year, to talk about what the city is doing to revitalize Spokane neighborhoods. 

“We are looking for ways help get lots of projects and businesses off the ground, and we also found that Craft3 provides gap financing as well,” Stuckart says

Gap financing refers to a kind of loan that’s granted to cover a gap in funding. 

Stuckart says he heard Craft3 referred to as “pirate bankers,” because they provide lending to individuals and groups that might not be able to get financing from traditional banks. 

“They tend to take on more risk, and I think we need that type of organization to attract other investment opportunities in Spokane,” he says. 

Jennifer Janda, Craft3’s marketing manager, has worked with the organization for the past 10 years and is now working in the Spokane office. Janda says the nonprofit lender also provides clients with business consulting and advocacy services as needed.

Craft3 opened its Bend office in 2013, Janda says, and the nonprofit’s five-year strategic plan calls for at least four more offices in Oregon and Washington by 2016. 

Craft3’s recent clients in Eastern Washington include IntelliPaper LLC, the Edwall, Wash.-based company that makes paper-based USB flash drives, and Sister Sky, a Spokane-based, minority-owned natural herbal skin products company. 

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