How it all began

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Our story began as the brainchild of Frank Altman, CRF’s president and CEO, and Warren Hanson, then President and CEO of the Greater Minnesota Housing fund. In the late 1980s, Altman worked for the Minnesota governor in a variety of economic development roles and was asked to explore alternative options for financing economic development as traditional sources of funding continued to shrink. He began investigating options to sell loans for the state’s then Department of Trade and Economic Development.  

Altman and his team determined that, by selling existing loans, they could help recapitalize economic development entities rather than having them go back for more appropriations and taxpayer dollars. The impact to communities would be greater and faster because money could be reinvested sooner.

When Altman left state government, he used this concept to lay the foundation for CRF. The idea resonated with Twin Cities-based foundations such as the Northwest Area Foundations, US West Foundation, and the McKnight Foundation, whose grants helped launch CRF as a non-profit organization in 1988.