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Spotlight on Bob Dorfman of Dorfman Capital: “Way Finders’ mission is pure”
Way Finders is proud to stand for affordable housing projects in western Massachusetts. But standing at our side? A bevy of partners—generous, talented, dedicated—who believe in and support our work.
People such as Bob Dorfman, a specialist in placing Massachusetts tax credits who has led Dorfman Capital since its—trailblazing, in retrospect—founding in 1990.
“I set up shop with just an answering machine and a personal computer. I’d read an article in Inc. magazine that talked about the virtual corporation as being the next big thing: no employees, no overhead, big profits,” said Dorfman. “I was like, ‘I’m going to do that, I’m going remote.’”
Dorfman, in addition to being ahead of his time, has been instrumental in financing several Way Finders properties: Kenwyn and Quadrangle Court in Springfield (2015), Live 155 in Northampton (2018), Library Commons in Holyoke (2021), and, most recently, Windrush Commons in Great Barrington (2023). He spoke with Way Finders in December 2023.
“It’s crunch time for me, not many more days left in the year. And we still have a lot of things to accomplish. One of which we accomplished yesterday, the transfer and funding of the Massachusetts Low-Income Housing Tax Credits for your project in Great Barrington,” said Dorfman, in reference to Windrush Commons. “In fact, I was up early this morning doing all the things I record in my spreadsheets when something transfers and funds. So, it’s a good day, I can check that off!”
Yes, Dorfman confirms, he’s a man of many spreadsheets. As both an agent and a principal, the Worcester native has completed about $1 billion in financing for corporations and real estate developers—and is distinguished for structuring innovative financing transactions.
“Community development corporations, in general, are my primary focus,” said Dorfman, who is also a pioneering financier of brownfields remediation projects. “It’s hard to develop projects that end up being mostly affordable housing. And every ribbon cutting and groundbreaking event I go to, it’s always stressed to me how important it is to our state to have affordable housing. So I feel that Way Finders, and me, because you’re my client, are on the leading edge of providing affordable housing in the Commonwealth. And that’s why I get up sometimes way too early and go to bed way too late, happily!”
When he works with a community development corporation, Dorfman checks to see whether it has been awarded Community Investment Tax Credits (CITC). A revered state-funded tax incentive, the CITC program is designed to promote philanthropy to organizations that benefit children, families, and communities: Donors who give $1,000 or more are eligible to receive a 50% tax credit against their Commonwealth of Massachusetts tax liability.
“I’m in this industry professionally. For a small business, Dorfman Capital is a major contributor to the capital stacking of many projects, and I make money doing it. One of the ways I give back is through this beautiful CITC program. It’s an unusually good opportunity to leverage a dollar for someone like me,” said Dorfman. “I like writing out the checks, I’m a big believer in tithing and the CITC program is one of the ways I do so.”
When asked which parts of Way Finders’ mission most inspire him to give, Dorfman has a ready reply.
“All of it, in a word! Way Finders’ mission is pure, it’s to the heart of creating homes for people that need support to get started in life. The foundation of one’s life is home, it all starts there,” said Dorfman. “And to hear you say that Way Finders empowers women, and that seventy-seven percent of your clients are women, that’s a beautiful thing for me, as a father of four daughters.”
Way Finders’ efforts to promote economic stability and mobility also resonate with Dorfman.
“My grandparents experienced the Depression quite seriously in Worcester,” said Dorfman, who earned a bachelor’s degree in history at Tufts University and an MBA at Boston University. “There was never food scarcity in my home or anything like that, I was blessed. But I picked up that there is such a thing. And as I grew in the finance industry, I saw how important it is to provide people with jobs and homes.”
A property at 459 Southbridge Street in Worcester, where both his grandfather and father operated a fuel oil business beginning in 1932, played an unexpected role in Dorfman’s career.
“We’d had a number of oil spills there and the Environmental Protection Agency really began coming down on properties like ours in the mid-1980s. I wasn’t in the family business then, my dad was still running it, but I was his partner, maybe, in misery,” said Dorfman. “Because we had to spend over a hundred thousand dollars to clean up the site, right out of our savings account. There were no grants or credits available.”
Fast forward to 2009, when Dorfman was looking for ways to expand Dorfman Capital beyond historic tax credits. He came across the Massachusetts Brownfields Tax Credit program.
“I knew about brownfields from the days with my dad. I took it upon myself to research the program, which had existed since 1998. It was very underutilized, no one was using it. Why? Well, it’s a cumbersome program, no one understands it. I took it upon myself to figure it out,” said Dorfman. “Turns out, it’s a great program if you understand it and can get developers interested in it. Since then, I’ve been involved with over 130 brownfield projects in Massachusetts using these credits.”
To his credit, Dorfman makes wise use of tax programs that have a big impact on the communities and people of Massachusetts. We are most grateful for your support—at all levels—Bob Dorfman of Dorfman Capital!
For more information about how you can take part in the CITC program, contact Director of Development Megan Pete at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-233-1740.