The Eighth Osage Nation Congress confirmed three individuals to serve on the Nation’s newly established Community Development Financial Institution Board of Directors.
Former Assistant Principal Chief Raymond Red Corn, along with John Hibdon and Micah Boulanger will serve on the CDFI board, which includes overseeing further development of the institution known as “The Place to Borrow Money.”
The three men met with the 12-member Congress for interviews on Sept. 28 and the votes took place the following day.
Red Corn described a CDFI as an institution that does not take in deposits like a commercial bank. “A CDFI only has lending capital, it is not authorized to take deposits from the general public or from Osages for that matter,” he told the Congress in describing the difference between a traditional bank and a CDFI.
Congresswoman Paula Stabler asked Red Corn how will the CDFI raise its capital. Red Corn said the CDFI capital could come from several sources, including from the Nation. Red Corn said efforts are underway to obtain 501c3 status for the CDFI and “upon that accomplishment, we will be able to take tax-deductible donations from individuals and foundations if they chose to donate to us. We may also obtain lending capital from lending institutions specially designed for that purpose – that of course does cut into your profit if you’re having to pay interest … if you have to go out and borrow that money. And as I think everyone understands, the money we get back in profits we earn, we are also able to lend those back out, that’s actually the idea of a nonprofit to begin with.”
Red Corn shared his professional and education experience in response to a question from Congresswoman Pam Shaw. “In 2017, I graduated with a degree in business (management emphasis), so I got all the up-to-date classes on leadership, accounting, etc. that I can put to work. I’ve been a business owner successfully in Kansas City. I’ve been doing management since I was 28 in one fashion or another.”
Of the fellow CDFI-appointed board members, Red Corn said “I think we have a fairly complimentary group of talents, experiences to bring to bear on this, all of which are directly related to business.” He added the American Bankers Association offers many short-term classes, which includes loan officer training, which he agreed to sign up for, if confirmed as a board member.
Congressman Eli Potts asked what is the timeframe for the CDFI’s profitability. Red Corn responded “there are a lot of variables that go into that calculation, but I think the best way to and the simplest way to answer the question is not necessarily in terms of time, but to measure it in terms of assets. We haven’t done this yet, we’re all going to be learning together, we have an excellent coach in Oweesta Corp. (which is a Native CDFI intermediary offering financial products and development services exclusively to other Native CDFIs), who has about 20 years of experience … In this first year, we are going to have very experienced people advising us on how we go about doing what we are doing.”
“My estimation is we’re going to need to be managing somewhere around $15 million to $20 million minimum in assets to cover the costs of this (CDFI) budget,” Red Corn added.
Regarding capital contributions, Red Corn said: “I think it’s important that we are able to show that our own member (the Nation) is interested enough to make a capital contribution, assuming that’s going to happen at some point in time … There are numerous organizations that offer grants to CDFIs and those kinds of institutions are going to hear from us. We’re going to hit up everybody we possibly can to build that asset base. We would much rather be getting grant funds than borrowing money from companies in order to turn around and lend that money,” he said.
Hibdon, a Barnsdall resident, told Congress he’s been a certified public accountant for more than 40 years in the community and has an insurance agency as well and “I’m proud to be here to help serve on this committee.”
In response to questions on his professional experience, Hibdon said he has no prior experience with lending institutions, but said he is willing to learn. As for nonprofits, Hibdon said he has experience setting up a 501c3 in past years.
“I’ve got clients that are corporations and several individuals, a lot of my clients start new businesses and it takes years in order for the profits to come in,” Hibdon said. “We try to grow revenue, try to make it grow with assets, but from my experience, it takes time to see the profits.”
Boulanger, an Osage who lives in Wichita, Kans., met with the Congress virtually. He introduced himself noting “I’m excited about helping the community” and noted he has degrees in economics and marketing and a master’s in business as well. Boulanger’s professional experience includes financial planning, helping individuals and families set up investments and plan futures. “For the last 15 years, I primarily focused my career in working with large employers to help manage their healthcare costs,” he said.
Congresswoman Jodie Revard asked Boulanger how will a CDFI best serve the Osage community. He responded the community can benefit from financial education that the CDFI could offer for their future about managing a budget, debt and plans for the future. “I think the most exciting part of it is to help the community and educate our members and get out of some financial trouble that they’re in.”
On Sept. 29, Revard made motions for Red Corn, Hibdon and Boulanger to be confirmed to the CDFI board.
Red Corn is confirmed to serve a board term of one-year. His confirmation passed with 11 “yes” votes and one abstention from Congresswoman Whitney Red Corn, who is his niece. Hibdon and Boulanger will also serve one-year terms. Hibdon received 12 “yes” votes and Boulanger also received 12 “yes” votes.