First Solar Inc., an Arizona-based solar technology company with a new Greer distribution center and a presence across the state, is investing $11 million in efforts to bridge racial gaps in health, wealth and opportunity and revitalize communities across the Southeast.
As part of the initiative, the company has purchased $10 million in impact notes from the Local Initiatives Support Corp. and made a $1 million deposit in the Hope Credit Union, according to a news release.
“LISC and Hope Credit Union are doing a tremendous job at addressing inequality and, as America’s solar company, we’re proud to be supporting their mission,” Mark Widmar, CEO of First Solar Inc., said in the release. “By working with companies like ours to reallocate cash holdings, they’re creating capital for underserved communities and powering sustainable and inclusive economic change. We hope that these investments, which are in line with our commitment to socially- and environmentally-responsible solar, will help communities across America.”
Local Initiatives Support Corp. is a national non-profit Community Development Financial Institution developed by the Ford Foundation in 1979. The impact notes are fixed-income debt securities issued by the corporation, which have helped fund community and economic development projects across 36 cities and 2,100 rural counties in 45 states.
“Innovative companies like First Solar are putting their treasury dollars to work in ways that reflect their corporate values and objectives,” Annie Donovan, COO of Local Initiatives Support Corp., said in the release. “In effect, First Solar is leveraging its business strength to help finance lasting economic, social and racial justice, so that families and communities throughout the country can thrive."
First Solar’s deposit in Mississippi-based Hope Credit Union will support its work to provide business, mortgage and consumer loans and other financial services to Black communities across the American South. Hope works to import capital through deposits into underbanked communities where poverty has constrained the amount of savings and other assets, the release said. First Solar’s $1 million investment provides the capital required for Hope to finance small businesses, housing, health care and other vital needs, such as helping communities navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.