Pint-Sized Helpers Break Ground for New Childhood League Center Building


2015-09-24 12 22 12Dirt flew in all directions last week as excited preschoolers wearing pint-sized hard hats wielded miniature shovels to help break ground for The Childhood League Center’s (CLC) new building.

The event launched construction of a new, LEED-certified 41,000 sq. ft. modern and accessible CLC facility at the Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Campus near downtown Columbus. It is expected to open for the 2016-17 school year, nearly doubling both the space of the current location and the number of children CLC can serve.

CLC is a licensed early childhood intervention program. For 70 years, the Center has provided educational and therapeutic services essential for at-risk, developmentally delayed and special needs children under age six. Without services, these children are at greatest risk of being left behind academically once they enter public or private school.

Finance Fund provided nearly $10.6 million in federal and state New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) financing to the project which is located in a qualified high-distress, low-income census tract with a poverty rate of 40%. The project will create 72 construction jobs, retain 49 current staff positions and add 18 new jobs. Capital One, the investor, provided an additional $2 million in federal NMTC allocation to the project.

CLC LogoCLC partners with all 16 Columbus City School Districts to meet the growing demand for services for at-risk and special needs children. Among the children served by the Center, 90% have been diagnosed with developmental delays related to a medical condition such as autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome or alcohol and drug exposure. Nearly half were born prematurely. About two-thirds of CLC students live in poverty.

In the first three years of operation in the new school, CLC anticipates a 57% increase in the number of special needs students served. Currently, nearly 450 children participate in the program each year. The Center also promotes positive parenting skills as well as healthy nutrition and physical health.

Finance Fund’s investment enables the new Childhood League Center to prepare children to reach their full potential. By the time they enter kindergarten, 65% of children who received services from the Center will no longer qualify for specialized services, according to CLC.

If you have questions or would like further information about this project or the NTMC program, please contact me at

ShovelsChildren at Construction

Finance Fund CFO Matt Frank, President Diana Turoff and General Counsel Andrew Swary

(L to R) Finance Fund CFO Matt Frank, President Diana Turoff and EVP, General Counsel Andrew Swary

“Miracle on the South Side” Opens Today

Kimberly Scher, SVP Communications

Kimberly Scher, SVP Communications

On this picture perfect day, the Reeb Avenue Center officially opened on the south side of Columbus before a delighted crowd of community and elected leaders, social service and job training representatives, and contributors.

U.S. Senator Robert Portman, Ohio Lt. Governor Mary Taylor and Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman took the podium to celebrate the rebirth of the 111-year-old former elementary school building at 280 Reeb Avenue.

This “Miracle on the South Side” will now provide community residents with job training, child care and education, housing assistance, after school and summer programs, family and personal counseling, addiction recovery, a fresh food market and café.

“We need to rebuild our families as the basis for rebuilding our communities,” said Senator Portman, who played a critical role in securing $500,000 in HUD funding for the project. He IMG_1542-e1443208708825quoted comments made by Pope Francis during yesterday’s address at a House Chamber event: “Young people are caught up too often in a maze of violence and despair.” The Senator added that our challenge is to help people see that they are part of the American dream – that they can get back on their feet and have the dignity and respect that comes with a job. “We are the country of opportunity, the country of hope,” he said quoting the Pope.

Lt. Governor Taylor said, “This Center will in fact save lives. It represents the power of community involvement. It will strengthen and help so many people achieve their American dream.”

One of the many highlights of the opening ceremony was an original song “Hub of Hope” written by Christina Grote and performed by Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Kimberly Cocroft and Tom Crouse. The song was inspired by the Mayor’s despair at the closing of the South Side Settlement House in 2011 and the sight of a father and son walking through the neighborhood with a grocery cart filled with hub caps and pop cans for sale.

Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman

Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman

Mayor Coleman said, “I believe in the power of God and in miracles. This miracle on the south side exists thanks to the support of many people and organizations. Everyone came together in a holistic partnership.” He recognized the leadership of fundraising co-chairs Tanny Crane and Jane Grote-Abell who raised more than $12.5 million in capital campaign contributions.

Children from the South Side Learning & Development Center joined the dignitaries at the podium. As the children held up letters that spelled out “thank you,” the Center’s Board President Mary Cusick noted, “Our school is a place where children can feel secure and happy. The return here is equality of education.”

Finance Fund Awarded OEDA “Best Project” for The 9



Finance Fund CEO Matt Frank

Finance Fund CFO Matt Frank

Finance Fund has good news to share.  Our project entry “The 9” won first place in the Best Project category of the Ohio Economic Development Association’s (OEDA) 2015 Annual Excellence Awards Program.

The Best Project Award honors an innovative project in economic and business development that retains or generates jobs and investment. A key criteria is to demonstrate a unique approach to the project, which can include public-private partnership, local collaboration, innovative financing and/or incentives. 

The 9 is a massive, mixed-use redevelopment project that is leading the economic revitalization of downtown Cleveland and becoming a major economic catalyst in the area following decades of vacancy and demolition threats amid urban decay. The $170 million transformation of the approximately 750,000 sq. ft. project includes the historic former AmeriTrust tower, Cleveland Trust rotunda (Rotunda) and adjoining 1010 Euclid building (1010 Building). The complex includes a mix of subsidized and upscale apartments, a luxury hotel and offices.

Finance Fund provided $7 million in New Markets Tax Credit financing to The Geis Companies to acquire and renovate the Rotunda and 1010 Building located at the intersection of East 9th Street and Euclid Avenue. The site includes 90 apartments, 40 of which offer subsidized rents and are aimed at restaurant, grocery and hotel workers and other low-to-moderate income residents.

The 9 resulted from a highly complex financing deal that required the collaborative efforts of public and private funding partners united by a common vision. Funding sources included the City of Cleveland, State of Ohio and multiple banks as well as multiple community development entities (CDEs) that provided federal and state New Markets Tax Credits. The development also includes property tax abatement, tax increment financing, and federal and state Historic Tax Credits. _DSC7068-3

Central to the success of the overall project is a full-service Heinen’s grocery store, owned by a local grocery chain based in Warrensville Heights. The new grocery store provides fresh food to an underserved area and is driving increased rents, greater pedestrian traffic, and entry-level employment for nearly 100 workers.

The hotel and offices opened in the fall 2014 and the grocery opened in February 2015.

Finance Fund will accept the award during the OEDA’s 2015 Annual Summit to be held October 20-23 in Columbus.

CDFI Fund Awards FCAP $3 Million for Ohio Healthy Food and Small Business Expansion

Diana Turoff, Finance Fund President

Diana Turoff, Finance Fund President

Finance Fund Capital Corporation (FCAP) was recently awarded a total of $3 million from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund). Nationwide, the CDFI Program awarded $202 million in grants and loans to 195 Community Development Financial Institutions.

This is great news for Ohio as this funding expands FCAP’s capacity to provide needed capital and credit to economically distressed communities that lack access to affordable financing. The award includes $1 million in Financial Assistance that will be used for small business lending, and $2 million in funding from the CDFI Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI). The HFFI funding enables FCAP to expand its statewide healthy food-focused financing activities to help meet the unique needs of healthy food projects operating in economically underserved communities. FCAP, a certified CDFI affiliate of Finance Fund, is one of 11 CDFIs nationwide to receive an HFFI award.

The CDFI Fund is a program within the U.S. Treasury Department that offers funding opportunities, technical assistance, awards and CDFI FUnd Logoresources to community based organizations that promote economic revitalization in low-income areas nationwide.

Improving access to healthy, affordable food in underserved areas is a priority for FCAP. We’ve worked alongside The Food Trust and the statewide Ohio Healthy Food Financing Task Force to identify and quantify the need for increased access to healthy affordable food, frame public policy, rally a strong and diverse statewide coalition, and engage legislators to take action. Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed the FY 2016-17 operating budget that includes a $2 million provision of state seed capital to create a Healthy Food Financing Initiative. 

FCAP provides flexible financing options for nonprofit and for-profit clients on projects that build assets, create jobs and provide access to needed goods and services. Products include the US Small Business Administration Community Advantage Fund, the Small Business Loan Fund, the Healthy Food Loan Fund and the Community Health Loan Fund. Since 2006, FCAP has leveraged $44.3 million on an investment of $18.4 million.

You can learn more about our work to improve access to healthier food for a healthier Ohio by visiting our website, or contacting me at

Small Business Financing Headlines Recent Conference Agendas



Mark Barbash, EVP Strategic Initiatives

Mark Barbash, EVP Strategic Initiatives

At two recent conferences, Finance Fund joined other Ohio economic and community development finance champions to discuss ways to enhance access to existing small business lending programs, and improve the effectiveness of economic development incentive programs such as the New Market Tax Credit (NMTC).

The Council of Development Finance Agencies’ (CDFA) annual “Ohio Financing Roundtable” gathered finance professionals from around the state to share the “latest and greatest” ideas in community development. Included in the discussion was a unique “Let’s Make a Deal” session where community representatives presented their development projects. In addition, participants discussed the future of the NMTC program. As one of only five groups in the state to get a NMTC allocation this year, Finance Fund was active in the conversation about ways to make the case for the effectiveness of the program and the need to make it a permanent part of the IRS code.

Streetscape2Finance Fund was also front and center at Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman’s 13th Momentum II annual Small and Minority Business Conference which hosted more than 400 small businesses from around Central Ohio to network and learn ways to help their businesses start or grow.

Finance Fund Vice President of Lending Tara Campbell participated with a group of small business lenders who answered tough questions about what it takes to get a small business loan. Other panelists included Eric Diamond from ECDI, Laura Frum from Community Capital Development Corporation, Stan Uchida from Park National Bank, and Nancy Crooks from Huntington Bank. I moderated the lively discussion, “Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Financing: But were afraid to ask.”

Important recommendations included:

  • There are a number of small business loan programs that can assist when a bank feels that a loan is too risky. Included in these are Finance Fund’s SBA Community Advantage loan program.
  • The most important thing to do before applying for a loan is to have a business plan. Know where you want your business to be now and in five years, and how you’re going to get there.
  • How you handle your personal credit is important to how a lender evaluates a business loan. While there are ways to solve credit problems to improve the chances of getting a loan, honesty and a willingness to make changes are critical.
  • Being a small business owner takes patience and commitment.

Tara and I would be happy to assist with small business finance or economic development questions. You can reach Tara at or me at

CDFI Fund National Listening Tour Develops “Framework for the Future”

Director of Development Valerie Heiby

Director of Development Valerie Heiby

In August, I represented Finance Fund Capital Corporation at the Atlanta stop on a national listening tour aimed at building a new strategic framework for the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund).

Called Community Development Finance “Framework for the Future”, the five-city tour and two conference calls engaged more than 300 community development leaders and practitioners in discussion about how to build on the growth and success of the CDFI Fund.

It was co-hosted by CDFI Fund Director Annie Donovan alongside the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City-Denver Branch, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Ms. Donovan expressed her excitement about the “opportunity to hear from communities about what we’re doing well and what the CDFI Fund CDFI FUnd Logocan do better to support economic growth.”

The CDFI Fund did a great job of providing a roundtable discussion-type environment that was effective in generating thoughts, questions, concerns and affirmations from all participating CDFIs. In its Treasury Notes blog, the CDFI Fund reported the following highlights from the tour:

  • CDFIs appreciate the flexibility and usefulness of our programs, especially financial assistance awards
  • CDFIs use our awards to support a wide diversity of community development strategies, from consumer services and credit, to micro and small businesses, to community facilities and affordable housing
  • CDFIs appreciate the knowledge and responsiveness of our staff
  • CDFIs would like more transparency, to shorten our award cycle, and to make our data collection system easier to use.

Input from the sessions will help develop strategic objectives that will guide the CDFI Fund over the next several years.  Please feel free to contact me for information about how to invest with Finance Fund to bring economic opportunity and create jobs in underserved communities,

Wilmington College Opens Doors to a Successful Future

Wilmington College President Jim Reynolds and Finance Fund President Diana Turoff

Wilmington College President Jim Reynolds and Finance Fund President Diana Turoff

“Thanks to Finance Fund for being willing to see the future with us,” said Wilmington College President Jim Reynolds to a maximum capacity crowd at the Wilmington College Sports Science Center opening celebration last weekend. He noted that this is the first new building on the campus in 50 years.

Finance Fund provided $10 million in federal New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) financing to attract private equity investment from Capital One into the project. It was such a pleasure joining the college and community leaders, funders and partners to celebrate and commemorate realization of a shared vision for this state-of-the-art facility. This all-inclusive complex stands at the intersection of medical, athletic, recreational and educational opportunity for the region.

  • It improves access to health care for southwestern Ohio residents and enhances the college’s nationally prominent athletic training program.
  • In addition, it will serve as an economic engine for the region that provides jobs for area residents, and attracts student-athletes and medical students seeking academic and medical skills training.

Large scale projects such as this are made possible through collaboration and partnerships between the public and private sectors in service to the public interest. These partnerships not only make funding available to move vital projects forward, but also enable partners to share risks, realize potential and generate returns on investment.

Oftentimes, community and economic transformation are made possible through innovative efforts from the private sector combined with responsive policies from governments and support from nonprofit organizations.

Together we can solve problems, capitalize on opportunities and leverage all the capabilities of diverse contributors to arrive at places such as this. 

The Wilmington College Sports Science Center is certainly something to be proud of. Its roots are deep in the Wilmington community and it will have a positive lasting impact on this region far beyond its walls.

Wilmington College Sports Science Center

Exercise RoomIMG_1415MRI Scanner


Mita’s Delights with Sophisticated Spanish Cuisine

Kelly Cook, Finance Fund Credit Officer

Kelly Cook, Finance Fund Credit Officer

The “Queen City” Cincinnati has a new gem in its crown of fine dining experiences that is adding luster to the revitalization of 5th and Race Streets.  Mita’s, a new Spanish and Latin American restaurant by the acclaimed chef Jose Salazar, opens this Thursday. 

The highly anticipated 135-seat restaurant was named in honor of Chef Salazar’s grandmother, Mita, and will offer traditional tapas, paella, pan con tomate, Iberico ham and other cured meats. Latin American dishes will include arepas, empanadas and ceviches served up in a formal, yet laid back vibe.

This is the second Cincinnati restaurant that Chef Salazar and his wife Ann have opened. Salazar, their tiny, contemporary American bistro in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, is packed nightly.

For the new restaurant, Finance Fund Capital Corporation (FCAP) provided a $150,000 small business loan for working capital and equipment. The loan is guaranteed through the U.S. Small Business Association Community Advantage 7(a) program which helps mitigate the risks associated with the restaurant industry.

The Salazar family graciously invited me to their private preview event last weekend which gave me a taste of what Finance Fund’s support made possible. Upon entering the restaurant, I enjoyed the sophisticated Spanish ambience and knew I was going to enjoy an excellent dining experience.  The polished 11722221_1584256311839613_2512155949105426644_oand professional staff were very accommodating and attentive. Excellent service is a hallmark of a fine restaurant, and Mita’s most definitely delivered.  The wine and cocktail menu showcased some of the finest Spanish wines and a delightful custom Sangria. The tasting menu offered unique small plate Latin American inspired appetizers, chilled fruit soups, salads and main courses that were creative, beautiful and so delicious. 

I enjoyed a selection of three different cheeses or “quesos” that included a Spanish Blue Cheese, Mita’s own in-house cheese called the Drunken Goat, and a mild cow’s milk cheese served with fruit toast and mango fruit leather.  The combination of the different flavors was out of this world. From among the entrée selections of lamb, fish and prime beef, I chose a delicious seafood soup.  It was hearty with lobster, shrimp, calamari and squid. 

Mita’s will most definitely be a successful anchor and mecca for foodies in downtown Cincinnati for many years to come. I encourage all to enjoy this new restaurant experience. Without a doubt, you will be delighted.

Summer Camp Grows Skills in Healthier Living

Tara Campbell, Vice President of Lending

Tara Campbell, Vice President of Lending

Summer camp has always meant fun with friends, but an expanded summer camp program is helping elementary school-age children in a lower income east Columbus neighborhood also learn how to live healthier lives. Finance Fund provided A Colorful World Learning Center with a $5,450 healthy food grant to expand the summer camp’s focus to include health and wellness activities.

Funding for this major new initiative enhances the learning center’s current participation with the Ohio Department of Education and USDA food programs. The camp teaches children how to make healthy food selections and prepare creative healthy meals that are affordable and Camperscan be duplicated at home.

Campers also enjoy additional fruits, vegetables, and bottled water throughout the day. Expanded fitness activities include exercise instruction from a licensed physical trainer, and swimming lessons. Funds also enable the learning center to help break down cost and transportation barriers that prevent lower income families from leading a healthier lifestyle.

The area served is in a Federal Empowerment Zone where families have limited access to fresh food selections. Some of the participating children have a poor diet, are obese and lack proper exercise.

Camp leadership includes certified master trainers from Boss Fitness who provide a proven-effective mind and body youth training program. Campers learn the benefits of health and nutrition and participate in sports and various exercises. They also develop emotional fitness by learning about the importance of teamwork through team building activities and group aerobics. Many activities are aimed at increasing self-esteem while having fun.  Pool time at the YMCA ensures that Fitness Funchildren have access to swimming lessons and training. 

Providing seed funding for healthy food initiatives is a focus area for Finance Fund’s grant program and Finance Fund Capital Corporation’s (FCAP) small business loan program. If you have project that needs funding, please contact me at






Helping Human Resources to Thrive



Suzette Berry, Vice President, Human Resources

Suzette Berry, Vice President, Human Resources

Every year I look forward to attending the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference & Exposition. This conference allows me valuable time to reflect on best practices, expand my knowledge and network with other HR Professionals – gaining insights from their successful experiences and sharing a few of my own.

This year, the conference theme was “thrive” and the sessions were focused on helping us do exactly that – grow and develop very well in a beautiful place filled with exciting sessions and guest speakers.

Among the many takeaways:

  • It takes a seasoned and knowledgeable professionals to properly manage a Human Resources Department. To thrive, professionals must keep their skills sharpened by continuing to receive training and education.
  • As you interact with others, always seek to be fair, consistent and positive – and develop a thick skin to handle challenging personalities.
  • Confront conflict in the workplace. If it lingers it will affect employee morale and organizational success.
  • Prevent employee “weeds” from thriving in the workplace by keeping the culture respectful, positive and engaging. Weeds feed by crowding out others, bullying and negativity.
  • Use measurement tools to track everything you need to know about an organization – from employee engagement, to cash flow and client satisfaction.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, daytime Emmy Award-winning host of “The Dr. Oz Show”, was a keynote speaker. On his website, Dr. Oz offers several free programs that can be used in the workplace. He discussed “life adjustments” that can help people live mentally and physically healthier lives:

  • Achieve a blood pressure of 115/75. “You don’t want an average blood pressure of 130/80, because the average American develops heart disease.”
  • Exercise 30 minutes daily. Low to moderate exertion is OK. “Just get breathy.” Even 10 minutes of walking the stairs at work every other day is better than no activity at all.
  • Follow a healthy diet that’s easy to love.
  • Control stress and get adequate sleep because lack of sleep drives high blood pressure, cancer rates and obesity.
  • Focus on building muscle and reducing waist size instead of losing pounds.

These and many other insights will be helpful as I work with our Finance Fund staff to ensure a healthy, happy workplace.  Your comments and questions are always welcome at

Contact Us

P: 614.221.1114 | 800.959.2333
A: Finance Fund
175 South Third Street, Suite 1200
Columbus, Ohio 43215

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