Craft3 coming to Klamath Falls

By: Holly Dillemth - Jul 20, 2017
Source: Herald and News

A new lender will open its eighth office location in Klamath Falls later this fall, possibly downtown.

Craft3, a nonprofit, mission-based loan funding firm, has seven offices spread out across Oregon and Washington. The company emphasizes “lending for resiliency.”

Klamath Falls will be its eighth office, according to Mike Dickerson, co-founder and manager of special projects for the firm, classified as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). The new office will primarily serve customers in Klamath, Lake, Jackson, Josephine, Douglas, Curry and Coos counties.

“Klamath Falls just gave us a sense of place,” Dickerson said. “Like places that we’ve been successful. There appeared to be some real change in leadership and direction.”

Dickerson made the announcement to the Herald and News prior to the second annual Klamath County Economic Development Association (KCEDA) meeting at Oregon Tech on Tuesday evening.

“KCEDA really attracted us here,” Dickerson added. “They have a pretty sincere focus on small business retention and expansion, and a lot of economic development groups have a tendency to chase larger (businesses).”

Greg O’Sullivan, executive director of KCEDA, commented on the impact to business in Klamath County with Craft3 services on site.

“We are very excited that Craft3 will be opening in Southern Oregon,” O’Sullivan said in a news release. “The availability and deployment of capital will significantly change our business climate here. Craft3 is a change agent that will help us accomplish our mission of jobs, investment, and expanded commerce in Klamath County.”

Craft3 will likely staff a storefront office with three to five employees, which Dickerson emphasizes could impact numerous businesses into the future. A location has not been decided, but all of Craft3’s offices are currently located in downtown areas, and the company indicated interest in the Klamath Falls downtown area as a considered location.

“Our intent is to look for communities that we believe can have the greatest impact by residing there and becoming part of that place,” Dickerson said.

Dickerson said the lending firm also looks for communities with leadership and ideas that lack capital or start-up funds, something the company found relevant to Klamath Falls.

“We do a lot of small business lending, we also do what we call community lending or conservation lending,” Dickerson said.

The firm also lends to start-ups and could be of service to students graduating from Oregon Tech and/or Klamath Community College.

“It is difficult to get financing as a start-up, particularly when you’re a young person and trying to launch something,” Dickerson said.

The firm also lends to clean energy projects, including solar and wind farms, and consumer lending surrounding families, economy, and the environment. For example, the firm lends at a lower than average interest rate for septic replacement projects.

“If you’re making under $35,000 a year as a household, you pay 1.99 percent and the terms are deferred for the length of the loan,” said Carl Seip, vice president of external affairs for Craft3.

“We’re able to do that because we can raise money through private philanthropy and different funding sources.

“We’ve seen a huge need filled of folks who had these failing systems and just didn’t have another option,” Seip added. “You’re not going to put $20,000 on a credit card, and even if you could, you’re not going to want to pay the interest on it.

“The septic loan is a good example how we’ve taken a look at a problem, stepped back, and used kind of our mission alignment to create a solution that really works for people rather than tries to screw them out of their money.”

Craft3 has 60 employees collectively staffing seven current offices in Astoria, Bend, Portland, Port Angeles, Seattle, Spokane, and Walla Walla. The firm was created in 1994.

The company draws from 140 funding sources in order to keep interest rates low, according to Seip.

Dickerson said Craft3 intends to hire locally as it starts recruiting staff in mid-August.