LISC has named a top national economic development leader to grow its Rural LISC investment efforts and help fuel the LISC Rural Promise. Caitlin Cain is a Fulbright Scholar and former CEO of the World Trade Center of New Orleans. Her experience and skills "are needed now more than ever,” said LISC CEO Maurice A. Jones, "as our rural communities look for new ways to attract jobs, improve health and support sustained growth in the midst of Covid-19 and economic recession.”
Top social investment expert has deep experience working in public and private sectors to catalyze opportunity and drive economic growth
NEW YORK (June 22, 2020)—The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) has named one of the nation’s leading voices on economic development to head its $1 billion rural investment program, which fuels housing, businesses, health and jobs in more than 2,000 counties nationwide.
Caitlin Cain, who most recently led her own New Orleans-based social investment firm, will oversee the day-to-day work of Rural LISC and help LISC fulfill its Rural Promise—an aspiration to produce 20 percent of its community development impact in rural areas by 2023. Approximately 20 percent of the country’s population resides in rural America.
A Fulbright Scholar who also served as CEO of the World Trade Center of New Orleans, Cain’s background is multifaceted, spanning efforts to expand trade in western Australia, launch a healthcare and bio-tech hub in New Orleans, and support community-based entrepreneurs in small towns throughout the South, as well as in cities like New Orleans and Detroit.
For example, Cain was instrumental in driving economic development in New Orleans, both before and after Hurricane Katrina, while serving as economic development director at the New Orleans Regional Planning Commission. Earlier, she worked for the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, supporting enterprises throughout Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.
“Caitlin has a remarkable range of public, private and nonprofit experience, all focused on developing innovative solutions to local economic challenges and opportunities,” said Maurice A. Jones, LISC president and CEO. “Those skills are needed now more than ever, as our rural communities look for new ways to attract jobs, improve health and support sustained growth in the midst of COVID-19 and economic recession. Caitlin is well-positioned to develop and deliver solutions that are just, inclusive, and impactful for individuals and communities.”
Based in New Orleans, Cain has spent the last decade consulting with nonprofits and government agencies on strategies to develop trade opportunities, fuel new commercial districts, build on existing local assets, and help entrepreneurs become more competitive, whether they lead Gulf Coast fisheries or Main Street retailers.
“Investments in traditional and emerging economic sectors and corresponding workforce opportunities, including agriculture and infrastructure, are critical to our rural communities. Those local economies, in turn, are vital to the well-being of the entire country,” Cain said. “There is tremendous untapped talent in rural America, and LISC is dedicating significant resources, both in terms of capital and expertise, so that people can reach their full potential, regardless of race, class, age or ZIP code.”
Earlier in her career, Cain was economic development coordinator at Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation and project manager on the urban planning and market analysis team at Gibbs Planning Group, both in Detroit.
In addition to her professional leadership, Cain has acted as a small business coach and instructor and served on the board of the Women’s Professional Council, the Louisiana District Export Council, the University of Michigan Taubman College of Art, Architecture and Urban Planning, and the Nunez Community College Entrepreneurship Advisory Council, among other efforts.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and environmental studies from the University of Toronto and a master’s in urban planning from the University of Michigan.
With residents and partners, LISC forges resilient and inclusive communities of opportunity across America – great places to live, work, visit, do business and raise families. Since 1979, LISC has invested $22 billion to build or rehab more than 419,000 affordable homes and apartments and develop 70.3 million square feet of retail, community and educational space.
Launched in 1995, Rural LISC supports 92 community development partners serving more than 2,200 rural counties in 45 states. Over the last 25 years, Rural LISC has invested more than $1 billion in grants, equity and low-cost loans to support a more broadly shared prosperity in rural America, including support for more than 36,650 affordable homes and apartments, 4.4 million square feet of commercial and community space, and 750 businesses. Learn more at www.lisc.org/rural.