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Stuck in dial-up age, rural Ohio still pushing for high-speed internet

A recent Dispatch article featured Terri Fetherolf of OCDCA member Vinton County Economic Development Board.

Marion Renault of The Columbus Dispatch:

“McARTHUR — Terri Fetherolf has two wishes for Vinton County: clean water and fast internet.

The first is imperative for its safety and health. “But rolling out broadband is key to our economic survival,” said Fetherolf, Vinton County’s development director.

Today, high-speed internet has become a utility as important as sewage systems, the electricity grid and highways.

But despite the internet’s tightening chokehold on technologies embedded in our pockets, homes, vehicles and public spaces, more than 1 million Ohioans have zero access to fast, reliable broadband at home.

Almost a third of Ohio’s rural residents lack home access to broadband, compared with just 2 percent of urbanites, according to Federal Communications Commission estimates. Those figures are slightly better than the national rate.

Last week, a legislative proposal to establish a $50-million-per-year broadband development grant program inched forward, fueling the hopes of advocates.”

Read the full article.

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Community Development Week starts April 2nd

Please find below information from the Ohio Development Services Agency regarding Community Development Week April 2 – 6.

The week is an excellent opportunity to highlight the successes of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), Home Investments Partnerships program (HOME), and other critical community development resources.

Each year, you, our community development professionals are asked to do more with less. Through your collaborative efforts, we’ve been able to help many low- and moderate-income individuals in communities across the state.

This year marks the 32th anniversary of National Community Development Week. It is an opportunity for you to showcase your communities’ accomplishments and projects. It is an excellent opportunity to educate residents, business owners and elected officials about the CDBG, HOME and other community development programs through ODSA and how they improve the quality of life for all.

The work you do locally helps to strengthen communities across Ohio. We encourage you to participate in in Community Development Week this year. The Council of State Community Development Agencies (COSCDA) has a planning guidebook for the week. The National Community Development Association also has resources and ideas for events and outreach you can do locally.

If your community is planning any activities or events during the week, please contact Deauna Gibbs at deauna.gibbs@development.ohio.gov or 614-752-9556 with more information. We would like to highlight the change you’re making in the communities where you live and work.

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Approaching partnerships between health care institutions and community development organizations

Amanda Abrams for Shelterforce:

The shift has been unmistakable: health care organizations are increasingly focusing on upstream factors that affect their patients’ health. To some degree, that shift is the result of state and federal legislation, particularly the Affordable Care Act, which regulates nonprofit hospitals’ preventive care activities. But it’s also just common sense. Addressing patients’ big-picture realities—that is, the social determinants of health like housing, job creation, and food security—can have deep impacts on their day-to-day health and the interventions that are needed.

That new mindset has been a boon to many community development organizations, whose target populations—low-income groups—often tend to be frequent hospital users. The result has been a wide range of collaborations between community development groups and health care institutions that have sprung up around the country. In many cases, the partners have jointly determined that the community’s health problems could be mitigated through the provision of safe, healthy, affordable housing, often making housing development and rehab a front-and-center priority.

It’s a win-win situation: health care institutions save money as patients’ chronic conditions and repeat visits are reduced, while community development groups locate new sources of funding that can further their missions.

Read more in Shelterforce (and subscribe while you’re there!). You’ll hear about OCDCA members LISC of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky and East Akron Neighborhood Development Corporation.

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A new revitalization model: demand creation

Guest article from Revitalization News:

“When you chat with your grandmother about urban revitalization, the words that you use and the images she has in her head are likely focused on brick, stone, or clapboard buildings; on tree-lined, brick-paved streets; or on walkable main streets teeming with local retailers, hung shingles, and small offices or apartments above.

It is all about saving places. And we do it for a host of good reasons, be they economic, emotional, or to take advantage of a particular underserved market that wants to move in, not out to the hinterland exurbs.

The strategies we have relied upon mirror those images and words that we use. We focus, and understandably so, on the buildings, streets, and public spaces that make up the neighborhoods we want to save. We wrap policies around these places like bubble wrap, hoping to stem the dis- or mal-investment that has plagued them for a half century.

Design codes and zoning overlays institutionalize the wisdom of previous eras that we seem to be losing, the intuition that allowed us to build great places for millennia. To bridge the gap between what a landowner can invest in a building and what she can reasonably expect in return through rents, we have created a competitive set of tax credits that can be swapped for cash to pour into repointing the brick, popping in new windows, restoring the tin ceiling, and patching the roof.

When successful, we do save the place. Blood, sweat, tears and years go into stabilizing and restoring the bricks and mortar. Retailers open up shop, people move back in, and selfies are taken with your restored neighborhood serving as the memorable backdrop.

But saving that street or adopting that overlay district does not automatically save the neighborhood and, even if it does, it does not necessarily jump the tracks to the next neighborhood even if it exhibits some of the same great buildings and streets that dot your newly revitalized district. The movement does not scale on its own. What is more, even as we have restored investment in the place, real and often valid concerns about how we are restoring investment in the people that for generations stuck it out in the that place grow.

Enter gentrification and displacement.

And when we ignore the movement’s ability to scale and resist the difficult conversations about racial, cultural, and economic inclusion, we expose the preservation movement’s broad side to criticisms about Disneyification and loss of authenticity while isolating the pursuit of revitalization to a narrowing class of advocates that have the resources to navigate the bureaucracy, planning, lending, and trade skills necessary to bring a place back from the brink. This threatens to slow and narrow the movement right when we need to accelerate and broaden it the most.

These shortcomings are due, in large part, to how we go about revitalizing places. In other words: the supply-only approach of property acquisition, tax credits, building stabilization and restoration, and protection policies limit the risks of doing it all. And its importance cannot be underestimated. But while doing all of that hard work with our right hands, it is critical that we do something just as important with our left.

That something is a strategy we’ve come to call Demand Discovery where, through targeted activation of overlooked spaces, programming, storytelling, and ongoing tweaking, we figure out where, how, who, and what to focus on while removing the market’s mental obstacles preventing it from coming to the place you are trying to save.

A central observation of demand discovery is that, over time, we have value engineered out of the building process two key steps. We are likely to still engage in some form of planning (be it in a church basement or in a boardroom) with the intended goal of sustained development and investment.

But the leap between the two is proving to be too vast. We are missing one step by which we test those planning ideas through quick, low-cost, low-risk activations of the idea. We miss another that makes permanent the early and most successful aspects of those activations through smart, small development of the amenities and other uses that virtually all plans wish to bring back to a place. This holds just as true for a coffee shop as it does for a walkable street and allows our bigger development to be more sophisticated, market-driven (ie smarter use of gap funding), and integrated into the fabric of a place.

It is not your grandma’s picture of revitalization but, in fact, more like how places grew when she was a little girl through small scale trial and error that incrementally evolves into an extraordinary place.”

Read the full piece here, which details work occurring in the Cincinnati member Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation.

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Azul restaurant to anchor senior citizen development and neighborhood in Maineville

Polly Campbell of The Cincinnati Enquirer:

An intergenerational development is coming to Maineville that’s a first of its kind in Ohio.

Hopkins Commons will be a neighborhood designed to help senior citizens age in place and stay connected to the larger community. It includes both market-rate and subsidized housing and amenities for people older than 55.

It will be anchored, and partly funded, by Azul, an American comfort-food restaurant open to the public. Chef Nat Blanford will co-own it with Warren County Community Services, which is building Hopkin Commons. They hope to open by April 1, 2018.

Blanford says that the restaurant, open to the public, will be all about comfort.

Read more about this really cool and innovative project.

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CDC Impact: Community Economic Development

Over the last few years, Ohio CDC Association (OCDCA) has been working hard to quantify the impact of CDCs throughout Ohio. We’ve been collecting and analyzing data from our member organizations and are excited to share our findings – especially in digestible bits.

We are pleased to state that, each year, over one million people benefit from the work of Ohio’s CDCs.

This week we focus on community economic development – something nearly all OCDCA members do. Community economic development

  • Creates jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities;
  • Builds individual and community wealth and;
  • Attracts capital to disinvested communities.

Did you know that, in 2016, Ohio CDCs:

  • Invested nearly $35,000,000 to develop the economy in their communities, re-connecting community residents to workforce opportunities, creating jobs, and fostering entrepreneurship;
  • Helped over 42,000 households with job training and small business development, resulting in 1,000 new or expanded local businesses, which created nearly 2,500 jobs in low-income communities;
  • Re-purposed or rehabilitated over 1,000 vacant properties.

There are countless ways in which these activities occur around the state.

For example, in 2016, one CDC in Appalachia loaned approximately $130,000 to new and existing small businesses, which resulted in over 118 new or retained jobs.Local small businesses that sought expansion assistance saw an average 15% increase in sales as a result of this assistance.

Another CDC in Columbus finished and sold a 55,000 square foot warehouse to a local makers space, which now serves a community hub for the neighborhood and the city.

Community economic development is at the center of the work of Ohio’s CDCs. Through the work of the 245+ CDCs across the state, Ohio is fostering an environment that comprehensively improves life opportunities for all Ohioans.

 

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CDC Impact: One Million Served

The Ohio CDC Association (OCDCA) is a statewide membership organization that fosters vibrant neighborhoods and improves the quality of life in all communities through advocacy and capacity building of our member agencies.

The majority of our member agencies are community development corporations (CDCs), which are nonprofit organizations that work to bolster their communities through targeted programs and services in affordable housing, community economic development, community engagement, financial empowerment, and food access.

The membership is over 250 strong, and each of Ohio’s 88 counties has at least one member organization serving it.

Over the last few years, Ohio CDC Association (OCDCA) has been working hard to quantify the impact of CDCs throughout Ohio. We’ve been collecting and analyzing data from our member organizations and are excited to share our findings – especially in digestible bits.

We are pleased to state that, each year, over one million people benefit from the work of Ohio’s CDCs.

But what does that really look like? Join us over the next five weeks as we explore CDC impact in Ohio. Each Wednesday, we will share facts, images, and the stories of work happening all across the state in critical areas of community development. We are so happy to share these stories, and we hope you’ll join us on this journey.

Together, we can create a community development environment that comprehensively improves life opportunities for all Ohioans.

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Walnut Hills begins renovations on old Paramount Theater

Courtis Fuller of WLWT5:

A major phase of a multimillion dollar community redevelopment project was launched Thursday in the Walnut Hills neighborhood.

The excitement surrounds the extensive renovation of an iconic and historic building in the heart of Walnut Hills.

“When it is vacant and blighted, they think Walnut Hills is vacant and blighted, so to bring it back to life is very symbolic and very important for the rebirth of Walnut Hills,” Kevin Wright said.

Wright is with the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation. He said the project could serve as a template for other development around the city of Cincinnati.

“Everybody knows Walnut Hills because everybody drives through it and I think everybody thinks about this building as representative of Walnut Hills,” Wright said.

The building is the old Paramount Theater.

Get the whole story here!

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OCDCA receives significant gift from Fifth Third Bank for microbusiness

There are almost 28 million small businesses in the U.S. and over 22 million are microbusinesses with no additional payroll or employees. These businesses are sources of local and personal pride in their communities. The U.S. Small Business Administration found that since 1995, 2 out of every 3 new jobs created have come from small businesses. They are indeed the backbone of the economy, but many microentrepreneurs lack access to traditional banking resources.

In 2013, OCDCA began administration of the Ohio Microbusiness Development Grant Program (OMBDP) via the Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA). The OMBDP currently provides funding support on a competitive basis to 13 community development organizations to foster microbusiness development for low-to-moderate income entrepreneurs in the form of training, technical assistance, and loan fund development. Through this program, community development organizations strengthen the economic health of their communities by investing time and resources into these microbusinesses, which become community assets.

In 2015 alone, the OMBDP:

  • Provided over 2,100 technical assistance consultations to microbusinesses
  • Educated over 1,000 aspiring entrepreneurs
  • Started or expanded over 200 businesses
  • Created or retained almost 300 jobs in low-to-moderate income communities

OCDCA created the Ohio Microbusiness Recoverable Grant Fund to provide a sustainable pool of funding to these community development organizations, who can then use the funds to make loans to local microentrepreneurs in their community.

The Ohio Microbusiness Recoverable Grant Fund (RGF) is a statewide fund, from which OCDCA makes recoverable grants to sub-sites of OCDCA’s Microbusiness Development Grant Program, in order for the sub-site to then make loans to their low-to-moderate income microentrepreneur clients. Loan repayments are paid back to the subsite who repays OCDCA to replenish the grant fund, so that more grants for loans to microentrepreneurs can be made in the future. 

We at Ohio CDC Association are eager to announce that the OMBDP Recoverable Grant Fund received a significant gift from Fifth Third Bank. As this program gets rolling, we are delighted to strengthen our partnership with Fifth Third Bank to bolster Ohio microbusiness development programs and low-to-moderate income entrepreneurs throughout the state.

Thank you, Fifth Third Bank!

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Membership meetings: your voice matters

Please join Ohio CDC Association for industry updates and networking. We want to hear your thoughts on your successes, challenges, and ideas!

New this year, we will also focus on a specific community development tactic at each meeting: affordable housing; community economic development; financial empowerment; food access; and community engagement.

Choose either the location or the topic that speaks to you most! The first meeting in Southeast Ohio in April covered food access and was a wonderful success.

Central Ohio 
Theme: Financial Empowerment
ECDI
1655 Old Leonard Avenue
Columbus, OH 43219
June 14, 2017   /   10 AM – 12 PM
Southwest Ohio 
Theme: Community Economic Development
Price Hill Will
3724 St. Lawrence Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45205
July 12, 2017   /   10 AM – 12 PM
Northwest Ohio 
Theme: Community Engagement
Nexus Health Care
1415 Jefferson Avenue
Toledo, OH 43604
August 16, 2017   /   10 AM – 12 PM
Northeast Ohio 
Theme: Affordable Housing
The Dealership
3558 Lee Road
Shaker Heights, OH 44120
August 22, 2017   /   10 AM – 12 PM

We hope to see you at one or more membership meeting. As a reminder, you do not have to be a member of the Ohio CDC Association to attend these meetings.

We welcome all community development and community-based organizations, local governments, public officials, and more!

If you have any questions, please contact Melissa Miller at (614) 461-6392 ext. 209.

2017 Membership Meetings proudly sponsored by Fifth Third Bank.