“Community development is my passion,” said Erbi Blanco-True (DTMBA ’10), senior vice president and director of community development at Great Florida Bank (GFB), who serves on the Dean’s Alumni Circle in the College of Business Administration at Florida International University (FIU).
Her involvement in community development began in 2002 when she was appointed president of Neighborhood Lending Partners of South Florida, a consortium of banks that finances affordable housing.
One of Blanco-True’s many roles at GFB is to ensure the bank fulfills its community reinvestment act (CRA) requirements. The act encourages commercial banks to help meet the credit needs of low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. This includes financing affordable housing, economic development and neighborhood revitalization projects.
When considering real estate projects to participate in, Blanco-True’s main objective is to assure the property will benefit the residents and improve the neighborhood. For example, if a proposed shopping center in a low-income area includes a liquor store among its possible tenants, she encourages the borrower to consider alternative businesses that would better serve the residents.
Talents and education prove powerful combination.
One of the recent projects she financed was the rehabilitation of “The Allen” in South Beach. The restoration of a derelict building in a neglected area required funding from seven sources and took three years to complete. Restored to its former splendor by a non-profit organization, the elegant Art Deco historical site offers low-income seniors a dignified place to call home.
“I have the best career in the world,” said Blanco-True, whose ability to bring business professionals together has earned her a reputation as a community development guru.
“She is wholly dedicated to creating needed housing, engaging the right players in planning and being a tireless Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce advocate,” said Daniella Levine, president and founder of Catalyst Miami.
“Having an MBA was one of my lifelong ambitions,” said Blanco-True, who feels the degree has increased her credibility with business leaders when she serves as an expert speaker at conferences and events. “I selected FIU because of its diversified student body, its broad base of distinguished professors and the convenience of a downtown location.”