In this Issue…

April 01, 2011
By  Allen North

Community development professionals have a history of being at the forefront of important social initiatives, fostering engagement to bring more value to the work to which they are committed. As we welcome spring, this issue of Bridges shines light on some of these initiatives that are sure to impact the lives of many.

We begin with a couple of articles about microfinance. This broad category includes all the ways to provide financial services to low-income clients who don't have traditional methods of access to banking products and services.

Daniel Davis writes about his trip from St. Louis to Bangladesh (a distance of more than 8,000 miles—or 13,000 kilometers—and seemingly a step back in time) and the work begun by Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, the father of modern microfinance. As Daniel's title suggests, he learned a lot about microfinance in this very small country so far away from western civilization. And he's happy to share some of what he learned here.

Lyn Haralson has a related story about college students starting microfinance operations on campuses across the nation. These smart kids have smart ideas, and they also seem to have a strong desire, determination and commitment to help others.

Then we move on to Drew Pack's story about immigrant entrepreneurship. In the 19th century, Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "America is another name for opportunity," and it seems that is still true today. Immigrants have consistently found America to be a place that encourages creativity and the entrepreneurial spirit. And the role of highly skilled immigrants and the economic contributions they make to this country are of growing importance for regional economies and struggling cities.

Bill Emmons rounds out our feature articles with an update on foreclosure trends in our District—a very interesting and sobering analysis.

I encourage you to explore this issue, and I'd also like to encourage you to attend our spring conference, Exploring Innovation: A Conference on Community Development Finance. If you haven't registered, contact Julie Kerr at 501-324-8297 or Details are available at

Bridges is a regular review of regional community and economic development issues. Views expressed are not necessarily those of the St. Louis Fed or Federal Reserve System.

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