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Eastern KY advocate named to Federal Reserve council

The rural communities of eastern Kentucky will have a seat at the table as the Federal Reserve considers future U.S. financial policies, with the recent appointment of Appalachian Impact Fund Executive Director Lora Smith to the Fed’s Community Advisory Council.

Smith is among three new appointees to the council, announced recently by the Fed – the nation’s central bank that conducts U.S. monetary policy to promote maximum employment, stable prices and moderate long-term interest rates.

“I’m honored to be able to add the voice of Appalachia to the Fed’s decision-making process,” Smith said. “It’s important that the perspectives from rural Kentucky are heard at the federal level.”

Smith said the policies that support access to financial capital are vital to the continued economic recovery of the coalfields region.

“At the micro level, it’s about ensuring there are fair lending opportunities to buy your first home or open your own business. At the macro level, it’s about creating a favorable financial environment that can support equitable investment in rural places,” she said.

Smith is co-founder of the Appalachian Impact Fund, a social-impact investment fund that is making history in eastern Kentucky through a new community building model that supports organizations making transformative change in the heavily distressed region.

Unlike previous revitalization approaches, Appalachian Impact Fund addresses all community-building sectors in the five-county region. Recent initiatives include securing $1.5 million in funding to spur revitalization in three eastern Kentucky downtown areas.

Smith joins Dr. Susan Bradbury, professor at Iowa State University; Tawney Brunsch, executive director ay Lakota Funds; and Stephanie Mackay, chief innovation officer at Columbus Community Center as the new appointees to the Fed’s Community Advisory Council.

The council is composed of a diverse group of experts and representatives of consumer, workforce and community development organizations and interests, including from such fields as affordable housing, economic development, labor, small business and asset and wealth building. Council members provide information, advice and recommendations to the Fed on relevant policy matters and emerging issues of interest.

The Appalachian Impact Fund (AIF) is a pioneering social-impact investment fund supporting economic transition and community investment in eastern Kentucky.

AIF’s unique model and approach invests capital to advance opportunities that support economic diversification in the coalfields region. AIF is housed at the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky in Hazard, Ky.

Since 2017, AIF has provided more than $1 million in grants to numerous regional nonprofit organizations, invested more than $700,000 in downtown revitalization, housing and homeownership initiatives, and attracted an additional $5 million in new investment funding to the region.