Tax credits help LBHC build wellness center

Feb 9th, 2012 | By | Category: 23-3: Technology and Culture, Tribal College News

GRAND OPENING. Little Big Horn College celebrated the grand opening of the tribal college’s new health and wellness center. Photo by Michael Bland, Travois New Markets

In November, Little Big Horn College (LBHC, Crow Agency, MT) completed work on its new 35,000- square-foot Health and Wellness Center, thanks in part to New Markets Tax Credit financing provided by Travois New Markets (a nationally certified community development entity) and Indion Ventures (a Native Americanowned investment management and tax credit syndication firm that is part of the Indion Group of companies).

After assembling funds from various other sources for the Health and Wellness Center, LBHC still faced a financing gap and turned to New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC) for help. Travois New Markets provided $8.8 million in NMTCs, and Indion Ventures invested more than $2.3 million in equity for the $10-million facility, which will provide a learning environment for health and wellness education programs and exercise facilities.

“The Health and Wellness Center will meet the needs of our growing campus and encourage the recruitment of students in health-related fields, a career area that is sorely lacking in our community,” says Dr. David Yarlott, president of LBHC. “Diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer from smoking are concerns throughout the nation but are more pronounced in Native American communities. A healthier student tends to be a better student academically, and this facility also will help alleviate or curtail the number of community members becoming afflicted with health-related diseases.”

As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, U.S. Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) spearheaded changes to the New Markets Tax Credit program in 2007 to require a portion of the tax credits to be invested in rural states.

“This great news is proof that given the right tools, we can make important strides forward in bringing good-paying jobs to Montana while investing in the future of economic development for our tribes. My sincere thanks goes out to everyone from the Little Big Horn College, the Crow Nation, and all of the partners who have worked to make sure the New Markets Tax Credits are put to good use,” says Baucus.

The facility consists of an NCAA gymnasium, collegiate locker rooms, a strength-training room, a cardio room, an aerobics/gathering room, public lockers and restrooms, and other facility support spaces. Community members can utilize the center for exercise, celebrations, powwows, and graduations.

The project created 98 construction jobs and will employ six full-timeequivalent staff members. LBHC has a goal of achieving Platinum Certification for the facility through the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system. Green features include skylights, sun shading devices and overhangs, and on-site rainwater detention.

“Little Big Horn College is the economic engine of the Crow Reservation,” says Phil Glynn, vice president of economic development for Travois.

“Indion’s mission is to create economic development opportunities in low-income areas with a particular focus on Indian Country,” says Chad Burris, Indion founder.

The New Markets Tax Credit program is administered by the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Enacted by Congress in 2000, the program encourages the investment of private equity capital into low-income communities and, in exchange, allows investors to receive federal tax credits equaling 39% of the investment over a seven-year period. These investments are made to spur community and economic revitalization. The NMTC statute requires that investments be located in census tracts where the individual poverty rate is at least 20% or where median family income does not exceed 80% of the area median. NMTC investments of $15.5 billion have generated a total of $50 billion in capital that has been invested in some of the nation’s most underserved communities.

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