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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.


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.



Fix a house, learn job skills in this Middletown program

Ed Richter of The Journal-News:

Starting Feb. 12, the newest Build-Up Academy will start its next class to rehab a house in Middletown.

The Build-Up Academies is a program operated by the nonprofit Supports to Encourage Low-Income Families that provides job training for people looking to get into a construction trade by rehabbing or flipping property.

John Post, SELF’s housing coordinator, said the program is a natural outgrowth of the nonprofit’s other activities and programs, which include various volunteer work camps in the summer, and community blitzes throughout the year helping low-income people with home repairs and other maintenance issues.

Post said the Build-Up Academies, now in its third year, provides free construction skills training to classes of nine to 18 students, ages 18 to 40, who meet for nearly four hours a night, four nights a week for nine weeks on the project.

The students also receive construction technology or construction management certificate through an agreement with Cincinnati State. The program offers opportunities to network with local employers or apply for apprenticeships in the construction field upon graduation. In addition there are incentives, employment and life skills training, emergency supports and even steel-toed boots and a starter tool set upon graduation from the program.

“It’s been a great program for us,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of great success stories.”

Read the whole story here.


OCDCA announces microbusiness development program grantees

These past two months have been a very exciting time for OCDCA and its members.

Late last month, through the use of an impartial review committee, we awarded grants to fourteen members for their microbusiness programs through the Ohio Microbusiness Development Program.

The purpose of the Ohio Microbusiness Development Program is to provide funding for CDCs to further develop a local delivery system that encourages microbusiness development, provides low- and moderate-income households with access to capital for business development and self-employment, and creates and retains long-term jobs in the private sector.

Funding for this can be in the form of either training or technical assistance, or direct assistance to the business in the form of a loan, with loan funds repaid into a local microbusiness revolving loan fund. Funding for this program comes from Ohio Development Services Agency with additional support for OCDCA’s Recoverable Grant Fund through a significant gift from Fifth Third Bank with additional support from US Bank Foundation. View a list of all the OCDCA funders.

Awarded Organizations

Adams Brown Community Action Partnership

Appalachian Center for Economic Networks

Asian Services in Action, Inc.

Community Action Partnership of the Greater Dayton Area

Community Action Committee of Pike County

Economic and Community Development Institute

Franklinton Urban Empowerment Lab

Greater Cincinnati Microenterprise Initiative

HHWP Community Action Agency

INCREASE Community Development Corporation

Southern Perry Incubation Center for Entrepreneurs

Supports to Encourage Low Income Families

Vinton County Economic Development Board

Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation

Congrats to all of the selected organization! For more information about the Ohio Microbusiness Development Program, please contact Nate Coffman at ncoffman AT


Cincinnati’s first minority-owned brewery coming to Walnut Hills in 2018

Exciting news coming out of Cincinnati, regarding an entrepreneur dedicated to revitalization, two OCDCA members, and beer…sweet, sweet, local beer.

Allison Smith Cohen of Soapbox Cincinnati:

“Recently announced Esoteric Brewing Company has several tactics for setting itself apart from others, starting with the fact that it will be the first minority-owned brewery in the city. Founder and CEO Brian Jackson honed his skills at MadTree before deciding to set off on his own; he’s also a MORTAR grad.

“’Esoteric’ means ‘sophistication,’” says Jackson. “We’re trying to elevate the palates of customers and the entire experience of people coming to breweries in Cincinnati.”

He plans to offer a diverse selection of brews, which will include local favorites like traditional American IPAs and stouts, as well as more complex beers like his award-winning Belgian quadruple, Nirvana.

Jackson picked a location that matches that sense of style and sophistication: the historic Paramount building in Walnut Hills, which was once known as Cincinnati’s “second downtown.”

The beautiful Art Deco-style building from 1910 has sat empty for a decade, but was purchased last year by the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation, and is currently undergoing renovations. Partnering with several community organizations, Esoteric plans to use the roaring ’20s vibe of the space to create a modern speakeasy.”

Read the whole story here.


What’s happening? Tax cuts

A brief sample of our November 2017 newsletter: What’s Happening in Ohio Community Development?

TAKE ACTION: Tax Bills Batter Opportunity and Affordable Housing

The so-called “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” will decrease affordable housing, decrease jobs, decrease economic opportunity in a multitude of ways (healthcare, education), increase taxes on tens of millions of low-to-moderate income households, widen already deep income/wealth inequality, increase our national debt that will squeeze future domestic spending, and will redistribute wealth (upward) from average Americans to corporations and the affluent.

Although the Senate budget version (expected to be voted on in the coming hours) is not as harmful for housing as the House proposal, both would irreparably impact low-to-moderate-income communities across Ohio by decreasing thousands of affordable units and costing thousands of jobs through impacts to private activity bonds (Housing Bonds), Low-Income Housing, Historic, and New Markets Tax Credits.

By 2027, people making $40,000 to $50,000 would pay a combined $5.3 billion more in taxes, while the group earning $1 million or more would get a $5.8 billion cut, according to the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office. Out of 42 top economists, only 1 believes the GOP tax bills would help the economy. “Aside from the redistribution of wealth (upward), hard to see this changing much,” wrote Richard Thaler, who just won the Nobel Prize in economics.

It’s important to make your voice heard and continue to call your Congresspeople.

Please tell them to oppose tax bills under consideration because the proposals will broadly burden low-to-moderate-income families and that specifically it’s important to protect and expand tax provisions that support affordable housing and community development namely private activity bonds (Housing Bonds), Low-Income Housing, Historic, and New Markets Tax Credits.

Contact Senator Rob Portman
Contact Senator Sherrod Brown
Contact your U.S. House Representative

Regardless of the final result, it’s critically important to continue to not only educate members of Congress but to educate family, friends, and co-workers on the factual real-world impacts of these measures. Thank you for your advocacy!

Read the whole newsletter or subscribe!


Senate tax reform bill would reduce affordable rental housing production by nearly 300,000 homes

Borrowed from Michael Novogradac of Novogradac & Company:

“According to Novogradac & Company analysis, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, tax reform legislation introduced by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, would reduce the future supply of affordable rental housing by nearly 300,000 homes over 10 years.  The Senate bill is more favorable than the House bill, because it preserves private activity bonds, but the Senate bill would still appreciably reduce affordable rental housing production at a time when the need for affordable rental housing is acute. Specifically, the following changes proposed by the bill would result in fewer rental homes built or renovated by the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC):

  1. Lower corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent,
  2. Change the depreciation and interest deductibility of LIHTC propertis, and
  3. Change inflation factor for future LIHTC and private activity bond allocations from CPI-U to “chained CPI”

He went on to state that Ohio would be third highest state poised to lose the most affordable housing and jobs under the Senate bill.

Read the full post here.