The Local Initiatives Support Corporation, a national, non-profit community development group, has chosen to locate its 36th program office in Memphis.
The $22-billion social enterprise, the largest in the nation, will look to expand affordable housing, businesses and jobs across the city.
Kathy Moore Cowan, a longtime local community leader, will spearhead the effort as executive director of the group. On Tuesday, Cowan, who was working from home because of the novel coronavirus, said she is looking for office space and will probably hire three or four staff members.
Cowan said her job will be to bring the right foundations, business leaders, bankers and community leaders together to solve challenges such as affordable housing and sustainable neighborhoods.
“A lot depends on the local needs here in Memphis,” Cowan said. “We will be leveraging national dollars and local dollars and working with local partners for positive change.”
Cowan has spent more than 20 years driving high-impact community investment activity. She most recently was vice president /community development manager for Regions Bank. In that position she oversaw mission-driven partnerships and investments in Memphis. Prior to that, she served as a senior community development specialist at the Memphis branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
Neighborhood investment has been a longtime goal for Cowan. She has also served as president/CEO of The Works, a nonprofit community development corporation serving South Memphis. She was also a planner with the Jefferson County, KY., Department of Planning and Environmental Management in Louisville.
Cowan said she loves Memphis.
“I love its rich history and culture. I love its talent and energy. I love its people.”
To have an opportunity to bring a collaborative initiative to Memphis, a city where she went to college and lived much of her adult life, is special, said Cowan.
“It feels good because I live here in the city,” she said. “I’m going to get all the good out of it for Memphis that I can.”
Beverly Robertson, president and CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber, said she looks forward to working with the new group.
“I think it will be an incredible addition for the non-profit landscape in this community,” Robertson said.