Ohio Creates Healthy Food Initiative

Director of Development Valerie Heiby

Director of Development Valerie Heiby

We have good news to share. On Tuesday evening, 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.

This is a tremendous accomplishment made possible through Finance Fund’s work alongside The Food Trust and the statewide 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.

Thank you for your ongoing support of our efforts to bring healthy, affordable food to underserved communities throughout Ohio. If you represent a potential public or private funder of this Initiative, would you please contact me at 614.568.5055, vheiby@financefund.org.

An American at Oxford

Finance Fund CEO James R. Klein

Finance Fund CEO James R. Klein

It was my good fortune to attend the Oxford Advanced Management and Leadership Program (OAMLP) last June with 33 other individuals from around the world. The OAMLP is offered through the Said Business School and invites selected candidates each year to study and learn principles of management and leadership through an innovative and practical methodology. All of us practitioners are actively involved as business leaders primarily at the executive level. The experience was both insightful and impactful on my perspective on thinking and leadership.

In what appears to be somewhat of an anomaly, my “class” has kept in contact for the past year. Many members of the contingent of 2014 met back at Oxford’s Egrove Park in Kennington this June to compare notes and share our experiences in integrating some of the principles presented into our environments. We renewed relationships, reported on the where and what of our lives, and we thought together.

Maybe it was the place. Maybe it was the plan. Maybe it was the people. Whatever it was, we again came together quickly and picked up where we had left off.

Lalit Johri and Sue Dopson from Said Business School convened a pair of discussions that rekindled the passion of thought and purpose we experienced in 2014. The formal thinking time enabled a phenomenal view into the evolving face of leadership worldwide. My only complaint was that the time was too short. However, the formal time was not the only time we shared thought, experience, and inquiries about how we can be better leaders and how better leaders are the hope of the planet.

It is my intent to share some of the unique interactive experiences and foundational principles that are becoming the new leadership challenge.

Finance Fund Awarded $55 Million NMTC Allocation

Diana Turoff, Finance Fund President

Diana Turoff, Finance Fund President

Yesterday, we received the good news that Finance Fund was awarded $55 million in New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) allocation authority from the US Department of the Treasury’s CDFI Fund. This is the ninth round of federal NMTC allocation Finance Fund has received, totaling $295 million since 2004.

The NMTC program enables Finance Fund to help create jobs and attract critical private investment in economically distressed and low-income communities throughout Ohio. CDFI FUnd LogoFinance Fund is Ohio’s only community development entity with a statewide service area. We are one of 76 allocatees across the country, including six in Ohio, that received tax credit allocation authority under the 2014 round of the New Markets Tax Credit Program. 

Finance Fund plans to award NMTC allocation to nonprofit organizations, for profit operating businesses and real estate development covering a broad range of industries and services from healthy foods, community facilities, health and wellness, education and manufacturing. The NMTC program provides the incentive of a federal income tax credit to individuals or corporations that invest in CDEs, such as Finance Fund. The NMTC investor indirectly finances a project through the CDE.

This targeted and cost-efficient financing tool benefits businesses, communities and investors. It brings opportunity to areas in greatest need that might not otherwise have access to capital. Here are examples of NMTC projects made possible through Finance Fund’s use of the NMTC allocation.

Through the NMTC program, Finance Fund has leveraged $750 million on an investment of $228 million for 55 projects providing 384 housing units, creating 8,927 direct jobs, serving 536 children and providing services to 39,830 patients.  We congratulate the other allocatees and look forward to putting NMTC to work in Ohio.  As always, please feel free to contact me with questions or comments at dturoff@financefund.org

Finance Fund Takes Aim at Ohio Senate Budget Proposals


Ohio-State-House-1_webYesterday, I testified on behalf of the Ohio Healthy Food Financing Task Force before the Ohio Senate Finance Committee. The aim of this testimony is to restore state budget support provided in the House version of the two-year budget bill (HB 64) for the Healthy Foods Financing Initiative (HFFI) which was deleted in the Senate version of the budget. The HFFI will enable the state to create or expand healthy food retail projects in Ohio’s urban neighborhoods and small communities. We know from examples of similar initiatives created in other states that an Ohio HFFI would have a positive impact on job creation and help reduce diet-related disease and death.

In addition to advocacy work on behalf of HFFI, Finance Fund is providing our perspective on two other provisions in the Ohio Senate’s budget bill that can potentially impact community and economic development in the state.

  • The first provision is related to Senate’s proposed changes to the operation of the Ohio Housing Trust Fund (OHTF). The change would provide that 50 percent of the proceeds would be allocated at the county level for housing purposes. While the amount in the Ohio Housing Trust Fund has not been growing much over the years, it’s of significant value when the funds are aggregated at the state level to leverage additional project support from other public and private investors. Protections that are currently built into the OHTF assure that funds are well-managed at a low cost, invested for the purposes intended, and are focused on rural and urban projects with a great deal of transparency. We believe that it makes sense to maintain this program at the state level. It’s unclear whether any of these assurances could be accomplished by taking a large part of the funds and allocating them to 88 counties.
  • The second provision is the Senate’s proposed change in the way that the state would support historic preservation through the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit. Essentially, the bill would put a moratorium on the tax-credit program, barring the state from issuing project certificates starting July 1. After a two-year suspension, the program could be revived to offer grants instead of tax credits.This state tax credit has been of significant value in leveraging private investment for redevelopment of existing structures, rather than forcing them to be demolished. Heritage Ohio has provided information showing that since 2007, more than 8.7 million square feet has been redeveloped into productive assets, 3,419 units of housing units have been created, with an overall ROI of 6.7 to 1. Because of a tax credit’s ability to leverage private investment, we believe that it is a much more effective tool than would be a grant program.

Programs that spur community and economic development such as healthy foods retail, housing for vulnerable populations and rehabilitation of existing structures are some of the best investments the State of Ohio can make. I hope you will join me in contacting your State Senator to encourage support for these programs.  Follow this link to a state map that has contact information. As always, with questions please contact me markbarbash@financefund.org or Director of Public Affairs Andy Hardy at ahardy@financefund.org

Jeni’s Reopens for Business with Emergency Financing Help from Finance Fund


jenis-ice-cream-leadjpg-3107e469ad83e50eWe made a decision to recall all of our frozen product, and to shutter our shops following news of Listeria in a pint of our ice cream. The decision meant our company would have no revenue, and no immediate plan for when we would have revenue again. We immediately turned to Finance Fund for emergency capital to help see us through. 

Without Finance Fund’s flexibility and rapid response to our request, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams would not have been able to so quickly create a recovery plan. The immediate access to capital was instrumental in enabling us to avoid layoffs during the shutdown.

Finance Fund moved through the loan origination and closing process quickly and efficiently thanks to its in-house underwriting, legal counsel and flat management structure. From start to finish, the financing was completed in under a week. Through their Small Business Loan Program, Finance Fund provided Jeni’s with a total of $1.5 million in short-term, emergency financing which we used for working capital purposes. Jeni's CustomersFinance Fund also provided an additional $199,000 loan through the City of Columbus loan program.

With short term emergency financing secured, we were able to put our employees at ease right away. We told them not to worry about losing their jobs – to put their focus on being spectacular for Jeni’s.

We sincerely thank Finance Fund for coming alongside Jeni’s – even though emergency capital is not the normal use of their Small Business Loan Program. As Finance Fund President Diana Turoff explains, “Finance Fund’s mission provides the flexibility to offer financing such as this to retain jobs and keep a strong small business going during a time of crisis.”

Nconeow, that our commercial kitchen and production facility are back in operation after improvements in our safety measures, we are making the world’s greatest ice cream again and have reopened our scoop shops.  It is difficult to express the gratitude I have for Finance Fund.

Going Farther by Going Together

Finance Fund CEO James R. Klein

Finance Fund CEO James R. Klein

In one way or another, I’ve been a relationship builder throughout my career.  It’s what I do best — probably because I work at it every day, in every situation, with everyone I meet.

I am in the business of connecting people, businesses and communities in need with public and private sources of capital. That takes a lot of relationship building. It takes a lot of time and trust. And because we live in a global economy, and we can learn a lot from diversity, it also takes a fair amount of travel. Everyone has something to teach us. Someone from DC or Australia or Africa may have something to share that will benefit our economic development work in Ohio.

But relationship building isn’t just about getting. It’s about giving as well. It’s about being generous with your time. Exchange makes relationships work.  Makes them lasting. Personal. Real and enduring. Deals come and go, but relationships go on, sometimes for a lifetime if they are mutually nurtured.

Last summer, I was honored to be among the 35 people selected to attend the Oxford University Advanced Management and Leadership Program in the UK. I began many friendships there, and learned many things about leadership and how to connect strategy to measurable performance standards from experts and critical thinkers from around the globe. 17136440609_cdb990fccc_z

Over the past year, we alumni have stayed in touch because we value what each other thinks and says and does and observes. Earlier this month, I attended a convening at the 2015 Oxford in North America Chicago event. There were many discussions and we had ample opportunity to meet with other Oxford alumni, reconnect with old friends and introduce ourselves to new people.

In just a few weeks, I will be back at Oxford University in the UK to present my thinking to the class of 2015, and spark discussion about the necessity of pursuing inclusive capitalism. It is through discussions such as this that we can begin to know, understand and appreciate the breadth of thinking and cultural influences that shape us personally, in business and in our communities.

I hope you make the most of your travels to seek out new relationships. Meeting people from different life experiences and cultural influences will expand your thinking immeasurably and bring long-term benefit to your organization and the people you serve.

I am reminded of an African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” In a world where human interaction is increasingly happening online through social media and video, it’s important to be reminded of the power of simply getting together with other people. There’s real value in a spoken “Hello,” a handshake, a smile, a shared meal, a laugh, an impassioned discussion punctuated with waving hands and raised eyebrows – this is how meaningful relationships are born and nurtured, regardless of where we call home. And its value is beyond calculation.

“Street Stories” Video Shares Successes

Kimberly Scher, EVP Communications and Development

Kimberly Scher, EVP Communications and Development

Each year, Finance Fund and FCAP feature client projects in a corporate video that tells the very personal stories and grassroots nature of what it means to fulfill a vision, triumph over adversity and meet community needs. Our clients’ pride in accomplishment shines through. Their stories confirm that Finance Fund’s flexible grant and loan funding is vital to supporting projects that would not otherwise qualify for traditional bank financing.

This year, our corporate video is called “Street Stories” and features three diverse projects.

“The 9” is a massive mixed-use redevelopment that brought retail, residential, hotel and RotundaStreetViewoffice space to Cleveland’s urban core. Finance Fund provided $7 million in New Markets Tax Credit Financing to two of the three buildings including the historic Rotunda. This architectural masterpiece was completely restored and repurposed as the site of Heinen’s Fine Foods, a full-service grocery that offers fresh and prepared foods to an underserved area.  Not only is Heinen’s a great grocery and lunch spot, it has become a tourist destination where visitors enjoy looking at the murals that depict scenes from Ohio’s agrarian past.

BC1Broken Connections is a nonprofit organization that provides emergency housing, social services, job training and counseling services to at-risk homeless and runaway youth in East Cleveland. Finance Fund provided an economic development grant to make needed improvements to the historic house that serves as home and headquarters to this exceptional place of renewal and reconnection for so many youth and their families.


CaJohn’s Fiery Foods manufactures fresh and fiery sauces, salsas and seasonings to the delight of fans around the globe. FCAP’s small business loan helped John “CaJohn” Hard (also known as the “Godfather of _DSC9877Hot Sauce”) and his wife Sue expand their Westerville operation and purchase equipment. CaJohn’s uses some of the hottest fresh chili peppers in the world to create a line of more than 2,000 specialty food products sold at retail outlets and online.

We are grateful to our corporate video sponsor US Bank for their generous support. Feel free to get in touch with me at kscher@financefund.org with questions or comments.

Food Access Takes the National Stage

Finance Fund EVP Strategic Initiatives

Finance Fund EVP Strategic Initiatives

Partnerships among businesses, lending and community partners are needed to help fill the gap in access to healthy foods in many communities around the country.

That is one of the conclusions from two national meetings held in Washington D.C. recently that included the Fourth Annual “National Conversation on Improving Access to Healthy Foods” and a roundtable of groups like Finance Fund that are part of the ReFresh Cohort, which is supported by JPMorgan Chase. Meeting sponsors included The Food Trust, The Reinvestment Fund and PolicyLink.  

A number of opportunities were discussed during the sessions.

  • The importance of grocery stores in urban neighborhoods to bring healthy food closer to where people live
  • How grocery stores in small communities serve not just as a place to buy food, but as a community center
  • Creating comprehensive services together in one location, including healthy food retail, health care, community centers, and recreation centers
  • Differences in size and products of grocery stores in urban areas vs those in rural areas

Held in the beautiful Pew Charitable Fund headquarters (which conducts some of the nation’s most significant public ProduceBasketFullpolicy analysis), the Convening brought together more than 200 policy makers, practitioners and funders of healthy food initiatives from around the country.

White House Healthy Foods Advisor Deb Eschmeyer joined fellow panelists PolicyLink President Angela Glover Blackwell, and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Program Officer Jasmine Hall Ratliff. In addition, panels included practitioners from around the country.

Sometimes, community development advocates get wrapped up in their work and feel like they are out there “all alone.” We know it’s not true, of course, so it was exciting to be among so many committed and experienced professionals for two days to talk about the most effective ways of solving the problem of the lack of healthy foods in neighborhoods and communities. Please send me a note if you’d like further information markbarbash@financefund.org.

A Night to Remember: Finance Fund Projects Shine at Annual Gala

Lower Lights CEO Dr. Dana Vallangeon accepts the Community Champion Award.

Lower Lights CEO Dr. Dana Vallangeon accepts the Community Champion Award from Finance Fund President Diana Turoff  (left) and CEO James Klein.

Economic Development Champions from throughout Ohio gathered at the beautiful Ohio Statehouse for Finance Fund’s Annual Gala on May 7. We were thrilled to welcome investors, funders and banking partners, our colleagues in community development, and our clients who are bringing about economic revitalization in their communities.

A major highlight of this memorable evening was our recognition of  Broken Connections  and Lower Lights Christian Health Center  as our Community Champion Award winners. These organizations demonstrate selfless commitment to advocacy, fellowship and stewardship to advance the health, education and well-being of community residents in meaningful and significant ways.

Broken Connections provides emergency housing, job training, counseling and social services to runaway, homeless and at-risk youth in East Cleveland. Lower Lights serves patients who are often uninsured or under-insured and unable to receive reliable primary health care.

Broken Connections Executive Director Nicole Howell accepts the Community Champion Award from Finance Fund President Diana Turoff (left) and CEO James Klein.

Broken Connections Executive Director Nicole Howell accepts the Community Champion Award.

Finance Fund presents the Visionary Partner Award to The Food Trust Associate Director Caroline Harries.

Finance Fund presents the Visionary Partner Award to The Food Trust Associate Director Caroline Harries.

It was also our great honor to recognize The Food Trust as our Visionary Partner Award winner. This national food access advocacy organization has worked with Finance Fund and the Healthy Food Financing Task Force to develop statewide policy recommendations aimed at increasing access to healthy, affordable food in areas of greatest need.

Guests were treated to a walk down Main Street, Ohio, with the premiere of our new corporate video “Street Stories”. The journey included three remarkable projects and organizations we’ve funded throughout Ohio.

  • “The 9” mixed-use redevelopment that brought a Heinen’s grocery store to urban Cleveland
  • Broken Connections
  • CaJohn’s Fiery Foods in Westerville, a specialty food manufacturer that is setting the world
    on fire with award-winning hot sauces, salsas and seasonings

We are grateful to our sponsors, whose generous support made the evening possible:

  • PNC Bank, event
  • US Bank, corporate video
  • Barnes & Thornburg, reception
  • Rea & Associates, annual report
  • Huntington National Bank, dessert
  • Merrill Lynch (Len Barbe and Kevin Cox), Celebrate Ohio Raffle

Thank you for your ongoing support of our work to improve the quality of life for people.

Statehouse Brings Focus to Healthy Food Access

Finance Fund CEO James R. Klein

Finance Fund CEO James R. Klein

It is fitting that the beautiful Ohio Statehouse is the setting for Finance Fund’s Annual Gala in May. As part of the Ohio Healthy Food Financing Task Force, Finance Fund has been working with state legislators to create a new statewide Healthy Food Financing Initiative to help ensure that every Ohioan has access to affordable, nutritious food.

Yesterday, the Ohio House passed a substitute budget bill (HB64) which included creation of this financing initiative. The budget language is now before the Senate for consideration.

Getting to this point in our journey has required steadfast commitment from nearly 50 leaders of the grocery industry and the community as well as the economic development, public health and civic sectors. These leaders comprise the Ohio Healthy Food Financing Task Force which convened three times last year.

Initially, the Task Force met to review findings of a statewide research study “Food for Every Child” that Finance Fund commissioned from The Food Trust, a national food access advocate. The study mapped crisis areas in Ohio located at the confluence of low supermarket access, high rates of diet-related death, and low-income. We thank the Ohio Regional Convergence Partnership, the United Way of Central Ohio and the United Way of Greater Cleveland for their financial support of this study.

That study led the Task Force to ponder the question of “why” healthy food retailers are not locating in areas of greatest need. Insights from grocers and other Task Force members determined that a key barrier is lack of access to sufficient capital. Other barriers include costly site assembly, higher development costs, more expensive workforce training and security needs. 

From there, the Task Force created a ten-point policy statement “Supporting Grocery Development in Ohio” that outlines steps that we can take together with policymakers to remove impediments to healthy food retail development in underserved areas. These recommendations were presented at a Statehouse news event in February. We now await the outcome of the state budget debate.

Those who have ready access to a grocery store may not realize how essential this community asset is to the health and well-being of families as well as the economic prosperity of neighborhoods. We are grateful to Ohio’s General Assembly, the Task Force and The Food Trust for their diligence in addressing the basic human need for access to affordable, fresh food.

Contact Us

P: 614.221.1114 | 800.959.2333
E: info@financefund.org
A: Finance Fund
175 South Third Street, Suite 1200
Columbus, Ohio 43215

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