LISC National
What We Do

Economic Development

Who will live and thrive in Washington, DC?

As the city undergoes continual change, LISC’s focus on equitable economic development is a response to that question. The economy should grow to embrace long-term residents who have yet to benefit and lower income people who might not be connected to opportunities. Our work creates opportunities for people to find jobs that increase their income and assets; it also grows businesses and rebuilds neighborhood economies. With our resources — lending, technical assistance, and grantmaking — we help build a local ecosystem that creates more equitable economic opportunities and outcomes for District residents and small businesses.

In DC, a racial equity lens in economic development is critical, and so we aim to use our resources to help low-income Washingtonians, primarily black and brown residents, immigrants, and others at risk of being left behind, to find and maintain their place in Washington, DC. We utilize three strategies to support equitable economic growth: 

  • District: We revive legacy commercial corridor and industrial districts by supporting the restructuring and attraction of businesses with family-sustaining wages in disinvested communities. We invest in real estate projects that create jobs and add new commercial space in targeted neighborhoods, such as the MLK Gateway and Busboys and Poets, both located in Historic Anacostia.
  • Business: We provide resources to businesses that will create jobs and have a positive, long-term impact on underserved communities. We accomplish this through our commercial and real estate loan products, as well as our partnerships with LISC's business investment affiliates and other lending organizations, including immito. In DC, we have partnered with Kiva to invest in new and expanding businesses throughout the city, supporting businesses like the Village Café and Southeastern Roastery.
  • Talent:  We invest in building financial savvy and foundational employment skills through our talent development initiatives. We support programs or projects that foster talent and support individuals in growing skills and reaching sustainable employment, such as DC Central Kitchen at THEARC and Literacy Lab’s Leading Men Initiative.

Our financial products include:

  • Kiva Crowdfunded Loans: Through a national partnership with Kiva, LISC sponsors a one-to-one match fund that helps business owners reach their crowdfunded loan goal on Kiva’s platform. Borrowers must work with a LISC Trustee to qualify for the matching funds. Loan sizes range from $0 to $10,000 and are made at a 0% interest rate to both start-up and existing businesses. The proceeds can be used for working capital, equipment and inventory. 
  • Commercial Real Estate Loans: LISC provides acquisition and construction loans for commercial and mixed-use projects. Loan amounts range from $500,000 - $5,000,000.  
  • LISC Economic Development loans: LISC offers Accelerated Business Loans, Permanent Working Capital Loans and Leasehold Improvement/FF&E Loans to existing businesses within LISC communities. Loan amounts range from $25,000 to $500,000. 
  • Makerspace Loans: LISC provides commercial property acquisition and construction loans to multi-tenant makerspaces. Loan amounts range from $500,000 - $3,000,000. LISC considers a makerspace an adaptive reuse of old industrial buildings, warehouses and large commercial spaces to a multi-tenant facility. The spaces are characterized by small commercial rental units, short term leases, common areas and shared equipment typically used for business incubation, light/artisanal manufacturing and technology businesses.


Adam Kent, Senior Program Officer