CLEVELAND—As reported in GlobeSt.com, BellwetherEnterprise Real Estate Capital, LLC recentlyentered into a merger agreement with TowleFinancial Services, a mortgage banking firm in Minneapolisand Detroit, and Ned Huffman, Bellwether'spresident, says the company is ready to grow even more.

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He wants Bellwether Enterprise to have a true national presence,with personnel handling affordable and market-rate business inevery region, he tells GlobeSt.com. Although the most importantfactor in opening a new office or completing a merger is findingthe right local partner, “we are especially interested in findingopportunities in some of the areas in the country where we'recurrently light,” such as the Southeast. The company does have anoffice in Raleigh that handles affordable housing, but “we need togo deeper than that.”

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Bellwether currently has a total annual loan volume of about$2.4 billion and “the goal within two or three years is to get to$3.5 to $4.0 billion a year,” he says. The Cleveland-based companyhas been expanding across the country in recent months,opening up a Western Regional office in California andanother office in Boston. The Towle deal, which will close inSeptember, establishes a company presence in Minneapolis andDetroit for the first time and will bring about $400 million inannual loan volume and $1.4 billion in servicing.

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In addition to increasing its national reach, BellwetherEnterprise has also recently landed some big deals. TheCity of Cleveland, for example, justapproved plans to develop over 20 acres of lakefrontproperty near its central business district, a projectwhich will help transform part of the city's lakefront from anindustrial area into a place where people live and play. BellwetherEnterprise will provide loan origination and financing strategy forthe $700 million project, which will put more than 1,000 apartmentson Lake Erie.

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In 2012, Bellwether Enterprise was formed when Columbia,MD-based Enterprise Community Investment Inc., aprovider of low-to-moderate income mortgage products,merged with Bellwether, which focused on market-ratereal estate, and Huffman says such a partnership makes perfectsense for a company looking to expand.

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“There are a lot of market-rate apartment developers that areactive in affordable housing and vice-versa,” and after this mergerthey can use one firm. “When a customer comes to us, we like to beable to provide full services.”

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“The fact that Enterprise is a mission-based organization alsoprovides a great deal of comfort,” Huffman adds, “since that meansthey have a solid long-term business plan focused on generatingearnings through cash flow.”

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“We're certainly proud of the work that Enterprise does, butit's also very clear that their intention with this business is inline with what we're trying to do.”

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Brian J. Rogal

Brian J. Rogal is a Chicago-based freelance writer with years of experience as an investigative reporter and editor, most notably at The Chicago Reporter, where he concentrated on housing issues. He also has written extensively on alternative energy and the payments card industry for national trade publications.