A group of community partners has launched a public survey that aims to map investment activity across Washtenaw County with the goal of building a more inclusive economy for all residents.
The 2020 Washtenaw County Capital Report is being spearheaded by Ypsilanti-based investment advisory firm Revalue and the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation (AAACF). They have also partnered with EntryPoint to implement the research project. Concentrate is part of the team's unpaid Advocacy Group, which is working to promote the survey to the community.
Revalue CEO Angela Barbash explains that last summer Revalue, AAACF, United Way of Washtenaw County, and Trinity Health came together to explore the possibility of creating a community development finance institution that would specifically serve the county.
"We researched it pretty heavily and determined that it wasn't viable yet, but in the process we honed in on some unanswered questions that would inform the creation of a solution like that," Barbash says. "So we took a step back and decided to collect the needed data."
That data will be gathered via three different versions of a survey. The first survey will be sent to 250 institutional investors. The second survey is going to 150 registered investment advisory firms, bank trust departments, and wealth management departments. The third version is a public survey that anyone can respond to.
All respondents will provide information on capital they've invested in Washtenaw County, in an effort to catalog where capital is going, where it's not going, and the barriers for increasing the flow of capital to undercapitalized corners of the county.
"After nearly 60 years of local grantmaking, AAACF is excited to add local investing as our newest tool for enhancing the quality of life in Washtenaw County for all," says AAACF CEO Neel Hajra. "We are pleased to launch and fully fund this initiative to identify opportunities for us and others to make local investments that generate both social and financial returns."
The surveys will be distributed on Jan. 15 and can be submitted as late as Feb. 15. The public survey will be available online. Interested participants can follow the Revalue Facebook page to get more information as the launch date approaches.
A summary of the results will be published in May. Barbash expects there will be significant long- and short-term community gains from the data.
"Short-term, we are going to have immediately relevant information on where capital is going and where it is not going. We will find out what the landscape is like," Barbash says. "We'll be pairing that information with the needs of five specific sectors that we are interested in."
She adds that the data will inform suggestions made to the AAACF, and positively influence the decisions being made by investment committees and advisors that steward a substantial amount of wealth for the county.
"Hopefully, the survey results will lead to more local placement of capital. The long-term goal is to shift more of the county's wealth into community-based businesses," Barbash says. "And that hopefully will mean that business owners can find the resources they need to hire the people they want and grow in the way they want and have the impact they want."
Jaishree Drepaul-Bruder is a freelance writer and editor currently based in Ann Arbor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy of Angela Barbash. Neel Hajra photo courtesy of Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation.