Appalachian Leadership Academy Faces Funding Challenges

Share
Director of Development Valerie Heiby

Director of Development Valerie Heiby

Recently, the Appalachian Leadership Academy (ALA) graduated its 2014 class including two individuals that I coached through the program. We congratulate ALA graduates Lisa Fulk, Leigh Kelley, Tracy Mathews, Lisa Robinson, Diana Roush, Kandy Tanner, Clinton Throckmorton and Anna Shope.

Keynote speaker Cara Dingus Brook, President and CEO of the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio, shared that childhood poverty has increased by 70% over the past 10 years and that leaders across the state and community action agencies have their work cut out for them.

“Leaders must continue to help others move forward to address the disparities throughout the state and especially in the Appalachian region,” she said. “No child should lose hope. We have a great group of dedicated leaders working on the issues of poverty.”

Through the year-long program, participants develop skills in capacity building, networking, and succession planning, staff development as well as communication, visioning, financial management and budgeting. Each participant completes a capstone project supported by their organization. The projects require them to make use of the skills they acquired through ALA, while bringing a needed component back to employers.

The 2014 class speaker Lisa Fulk said, “ALA taught me to manage programs and lead people! We learned about conflict resolution and communications and how leadership is not about a title, but the ability to inspire others to get results.”

ALA is a collaboration between the Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development, and the Institute for Local Government Administration and Rural Development at Ohio University’s Voinovich Center for Leadership and Public Affairs.  ALA has been informed that it will be defunded even though the need for capable leaders in the Appalachian region of Ohio has not subsided. Therefore, ALA is seeking to diversify its funding and is seeking greater private sector support. .

ALA 2014 Graduating Class

ALA 2014 Graduating Class

Continuing this program is important to me personally as I am a 2007 ALA program graduate and a child of Appalachia. I was born and raised in Gallia County, located in southeastern Ohio, along the Ohio River in the heart of Appalachia. My roots and the branches of my family tree are still there.  It will always be home to me.

Program supporters equip participants to make a real difference in their communities as engaged, conscientious citizens with leadership and diversity skills. Graduates take away a higher level of self-confidence, a new found respect for the region they represent, new knowledge and understanding about the challenges that the Appalachian region faces, and a renewed sense of pride in the organizations they serve.

If you’d like to learn more about ALA or are interested in providing financial support, please get in touch at vheiby@financefund.org.

NMTC Under Fire Despite Proven Effectiveness

Share

 

Finance Fund President and CEO James R. Klein

Finance Fund President and CEO James R. Klein

  The New Markets Tax Credit Program (NMTC) has come under fire recently in two reports, one released by long-standing NMTC critic Senator Tom Coburn and the other in his commissioned report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). In his press release and report, Senator Coburn asserts that the NMTC program results in the government benefiting “favorite” big banks and private investors.

We agree that the program does help banks and investors achieve a modest incentive against federal income taxes at a time when investment returns are hard to come by. The program is designed to do just that – entice private investors to bring capital to economic development projects in low-income and distressed communities that otherwise would not be funded.

That’s why the NMTC Program works.

In fact, as mentioned in a recent release from the New Markets Tax Credit Coalition, “Data from the U.S. Department of Treasury indicate that the NMTC has delivered more than $60 billion in capital to businesses and revitalization projects nationwide in some of the poorest communities; these investments have generated over 550,000 jobs in some of the poorest rural and urban communities in America.”

The Coalition’s release notes that both the GAO and Senator Coburn’s report ignore the impact of NMTC investments nationwide.  For more than a decade, NMTC investments have made proven significant and tangible impacts in terms of job creation and retention, access to affordable and healthy food, improved health care facilities and manufacturing in low-income rural and urban communities. The program is the federal government’s most effective tool for community revitalization.

Without NMTC in Ohio, development of important economic growth projects in underserved communities throughout the state would slow down, or more likely not even happen. This means fewer jobs and less revenue circulating within distressed economies.

_DSC0180For example:  Finance Fund provided NMTC financing that made it possible for Freeport Press to make major upgrades and improvements in its printing operations — including the addition of a state-of-the art web press that increased production and expanded employment opportunities in this rural community. Today, Freeport Press is the area’s largest employer and was listed among the 2013 INC 5000 fasting growing privately owned companies.

I invite you to take a look at some of the NMTC case studies on our website to see the NMTC at work in Ohio. You can reach me with comments or questions at jrklein@financefund.org

Feeding Appalachian Ohio Children

Share

 

Tara Campbell, VP Lending

Tara Campbell, VP Lending

Appalachian Ohio is home to the poorest of the poor – a place where poverty, drugs, lack of transportation and employment opportunities often leave single mothers and grandmothers raising multiple children that they can’t feed without regular government assistance and supplemental food deliveries.

Clearly, government agencies, nonprofit organizations and volunteers are working hard to fill the rumbling stomach of extreme poverty using grant dollars to buy, prepare and transport food. These Herculean efforts to feed hungry kids through food deliveries and hot lunch feeding centers are vital to the health and well-being of many Appalachian families.

Last week, I made an eye-opening visit to Jackson County in Appalachian Ohio with fellow Finance Fund leaders Kim Scher and Andy Hardy. We met with southeast Ohio representatives from the offices of Governor Kasich, Auditor of State Yost, Senator Portman and Congressman Johnson, then helped feed hungry kids a hot lunch. The children can get lunch daily at several sites in Jackson with funding from the Ohio Dept. of Education Office of Child Nutrition programs. This excellent program helps feed kids during the summers when school is not in session and they are most at risk of food insecurity.   

At the meeting, we shared Finance Fund’s recently released Food for Every Child report that maps areas where there is greatest need for access to healthy food in low-income areas that have high rates of diet-related death. The report was well-received as was the idea of developing a statewide financing vehicle to drive healthy food retail centers in underserved areas such as Appalachian Ohio.

After the meeting, we saw contents of a typical five-day food box that includes canned fruit and vegetables, tuna salad, packaged shelf-stable milk, cereal and snacks – supplemented with produce provided by General Mills. The food boxes are delivered to 575 children each week in a $2.3 million program funded through the Governor’s office. When the volunteer delivery drivers arrive, there is excitement as kids run up asking, “What did you bring me to eat?”

We had a great conversation among thoughtful and inspired people committed to improving the quality of life for people. We all recognize the need for a comprehensive, long-term approach that includes driving area economic development through community-based assets that create jobs and provide needed products and services.

These conversations will continue throughout the state as we share research findings, and gather information and insights. I’d welcome your questions or comments at tcampbell@financefund.org

Boys look forward to a hot lunch.

Boys look forward to a hot lunch.

Food security for a hungry child.

Food security for a hungry child.

Prepared foods in Food Boxes are supplemented with fresh fruit and veggies.

Prepared foods in Food Boxes are supplemented with fresh fruit and veggies.

 

SE Ohio Representatives (from left) Susan Rogers, COAD; Tara Campbell, Finance Fund; Juli Stephens (Rep. Johnson’s office), Kathleen Young (Gov. Kasich's office), Todd Shelton (Sen Portman's office), Julia Wharton (DSA Administrative Assistant), Eric Johnson (Auditor Yost's office)

SE Ohio Representatives (from left) Susan Rogers, COAD; Tara Campbell, Finance Fund; Juli Stephens (Rep. Johnson’s office), Kathleen Young (Gov. Kasich’s office), Todd Shelton (Sen Portman’s office), Julia Wharton (DSA Administrative Assistant), Eric Johnson (Auditor Yost’s office)

Buckeye Prep Academy Opens as Key Community Asset

Share
Mark Barbash, EVP Strategic Initiatives

Mark Barbash, EVP Strategic Initiatives

A formerly closed Columbus Public Schools building has reopened as a new K – 8th grade charter school in Columbus’ Driving Park neighborhood. Last week, I joined neighbors and friends for the Buckeye Preparatory Academy’s festive celebration which introduced faculty and staff members, and offered a tour of the renovated school building as well as a carnival filled with games, live entertainment and ice cream.

The event has me thinking about how important schools are to the health and vitality of communities. How schools help encourage networks among people of different ethnic origins and backgrounds. How schools help shape the surrounding community through their academic calendar, student performances, sporting events, PTO meetings and celebrations. How schools promote good citizenship that ensures a safe and fruitful learning opportunity for all students.  How schools anchor neighborhoods and provide a sense of place, of connection and cohesion.

Karen Renee Dunn, School Principal

Karen Renee Dunn, School Principal

Finance Fund understands and supports the development and redevelopment of schools as economic and social drivers that build and strengthen communities, and help students envision a bright future. Finance Fund provided $1.5 million in New Markets Tax Credit financing towards the renovation of the school. Additional support came from Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing and the Buckeye Community Hope Foundation Board of Directors, led by Steven Boone, Board President.

Buckeye Prep is sponsored by the Buckeye Community Hope Foundation and is committed “…to eliminate the Achievement Gap in all public community schools in Ohio through strong partnerships with schools, boards, and sponsors.” Buckeye Community Hope Foundation was approved by the state as a community school sponsor and has currently educated 8,000 children in 50 community schools.  

Parents and students met Principal Karen Renee Dunn and five teachers. Other celebrants included David Petroni, Buckeye’s Vice President, Angela Mingo from Nationwide Children’s Hospital, John Whitten, President of the Driving Park Civic Association, and Lucy Wolfe, from the Livingston Avenue Area Commission.

Buckeye’s commitment to the neighborhood goes beyond the new school. They are also working with the City of Columbus and Franklin County Land Bank to help renovate up to 50 homes in the area which has a 21 percent unemployment rate and is at 40 percent of the poverty rate.

As always, please feel free to send me a note at MarkBarbash@financefund.org.

 

Reflections on a Summer at Oxford

Share
Finance Fund President and CEO James R. Klein

Finance Fund President and CEO James R. Klein

I had the privilege of participating in the University of Oxford Advanced Management and Leadership Program in the UK in June. The discussions were led by well-established experts and critical thinkers drawn from Oxford’s various colleges as well as private industry. Our class included three dozen C-level executives from many business sectors and areas of the world.  I was the only US representative – which made my leadership, management and world views unique to say the least.

This was easily the most thought-provoking, and most enjoyable, learning experience in my many years of education. Thought you might enjoy a few of the takeaways.

We began with a discussion of leadership, its role and purpose within forward-thinking organizations. Our findings, drawn from the group’s comments, debates and exercises, is that “Leadership is about building new capacity for learning,” and that “Good leaders must be able to learn, unlearn and relearn on a continual basis.”  We defined several traits common to all leaders to include: intelligence, emotional stability, extroversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness.

Various Oxford faculty presented their unpublished research on the subject and solicited feedback from the group. The emphasis was on the fact that group thinking does not always make the right decisions. The group is valuable when it relies on the individual’s thinking. Every individual’s participation is important.

It is not possible within this forum to provide much more than a few other valued takeaways:

  • The more you know, the fewer answers you have.
  • Embracing risk is not the same as taking risk.
  • Trust is the essential element of any team.
  • A leader’s aim is to delegate and train until he/she is no longer required.
  • Worry about what you can control today.
  • People remember recognition.
  • The vision is diluted with each delegation.
  • A leader makes the decision based on the best information, takes action and accepts the consequences.
  • How people talk to each other absolutely determines how well the organization will function.
  • Most people form trust based on face-to-face interaction (visual cues).
  • There is no perfect strategy. There are only strategies that are good enough to get where we need to be.
  • Avoid financial myopia remembering that strategy is knowing where we’re going, leadership is running to get there, and finance is the valued tool of measuring both.
  • Imagination is the short cut to a person’s heart.

 So what’s my leadership role at Finance Fund? I see myself as the chancellor of change, the curator of the creative, a malcontent of mediocrity and a consummate connector. Alliteration aside, I work alongside our senior executive team and staff to achieve short-term goals that add up to excellent long-term performance.  It’s not always about following the script. It’s about moving toward impact within the limits of the strategy. The contribution of leadership is to incent excellence in performance of the whole team.

 Our brand exists primarily in people’s heads so we know the importance of communicating our business strategy through good storytelling. We also know the importance of connecting strategy to measurable performance standards. We come to work every day to fulfill our promise to connect low-income communities with public and private sources of capital to improve the quality of life for people. 

 It’s good to be back at Finance Fund where theory meets practice and we can learn, unlearn and relearn every day.

Ohio Economic Development Projects Stall Without Federal NMTC Allocation

Share
Director of Public Affairs Andy Hardy

Director of Public Affairs Andy Hardy

When, the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund announced the federal New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) awards on June 5th 2014 for the 2013 round, Finance Fund was disappointed that we did not receive an allocation. To date, we had received a federal NMTC allocation in eight rounds totaling $240 million.

In conducting our analysis of the awards, it became apparent that no Ohio-focused community development entity (CDE) had received a NMTC allocation. As we thought about the negative impact this would have on the projects and investments we were working on, we began searching for funding alternatives for our pipeline projects.

Certainly, there are even greater implications for the state of Ohio. The state’s low-income and distressed communities simply won’t benefit from the private investment incentivized by the NMTC. This will slow or even stop important projects that would have served as economic growth engines to create jobs and circulate revenue in areas that need it most.

What’s more, there are implications for the Ohio New Markets Tax Credit Program as well. Unfortunately, the state’s NMTC program is coupled with the federal program. This means that for a CDE to apply for an allocation from the Ohio NMTC Program, it must first receive a federal NMTC allocation. Although out-of-state CDEs are eligible to apply for Ohio NMTCs, the overwhelming majority of allocatees have been Ohio-based CDEs. As it currently stands, without any new federal NMTC allocation to Ohio-based CDEs, very few, if any CDEs will be able to utilize the state program.

Efforts are under way to decouple the state program from the federal program. In February, a coalition of seven CDEs from throughout Ohio, led by Finance Fund President and CEO James R. Klein, met with state legislators to demonstrate the positive economic impact of Ohio’s NMTC program and discuss ways to streamline and improve the program.

One of the most important recommended changes is to decouple the state program from the federal program.  This would make it possible for CDEs to apply for a state NMTC allocation even if they did not receive a federal allocation. This recommendation has been well-received by Members of Ohio’s General Assembly. Currently, there is legislation in both the Ohio House (HB 478) and Senate (SB 309) to accomplish this.

Without additional NMTC allocation to Ohio-focused CDEs in the coming year, qualified projects in the state are not likely to benefit from the federal NMTC Program.  Open-for-Business

So, just how important is the Ohio New Markets Tax Credit Program?  Here are a few statistics you may find interesting.

The Ohio NMTC program was established by the state legislature in 2009. Since then, this effective and efficient financing tool has successfully driven investment and job growth in Ohio’s low-income communities. To date, the Ohio Development Services Agency, which administers the Ohio NMTC program, has made 19 Ohio NMTC awards to nine different community development entities totaling $40 million in tax credit allocation. This equates to $102.4 million in investments. Ohio NMTC financed projects have created 557 new jobs and 1,665 construction jobs, and retained 1,670 jobs.

We will keep you up-to-date as Ohio NMTC reform legislation moves through our state legislature.  If you have questions or would like further information, please send me a note at ahardy@financefund.org.

 

Two Million Ohioans, 500,000 Children Lack Access to Healthy Food

Share
CFO Turoff addresses the Ohio Healthy Food Financing Summit in Columbus.

CFO Turoff addresses the Ohio Healthy Food Financing Summit in Columbus.

Good things happen when knowledgeable, experienced and committed people gather to address a challenge. Finance Fund met with city and state leaders, professionals from the supermarket industry, public health, economic development and civic sectors last week at a Healthy Food Financing Summit, hosted in Columbus at The Columbus Foundation. This concerned and caring group of like-minded people brought great insight to the question of how to address one of Ohio’s greatest challenges – improving access to healthy food in low-income neighborhoods.

Summit participants shared information and discussed some of the barriers that are keeping supermarkets and other fresh food retailers from operating in Ohio’s underserved areas. These include the cost and availability of land in urban neighborhoods, the difficulty of getting financing to build supermarkets in these areas, and the challenges of workforce training and retention.

A new report, entitled Food for Every Child: The Need for Healthy Food Financing in Ohio, demonstrates the scope and depth of the healthy food access problem statewide and in major Ohio cities using maps that document the connection between supermarket access, diet-related disease and neighborhood income levels. Finance Fund sponsored the study with support from the Ohio Regional Convergence Partnership. The study was conducted by The Food Trust, a national expert that has researched and successfully launched food access initiatives in other states.

The study found that nearly two million Ohio residents, including more than 500,000 children, live in lower-income communities underserved by supermarkets and other healthy food retailers. At the same time, a staggering 30.8 percent of Ohio children ages 10 to 17 are overweight or obese. People living in communities without a supermarket suffer from disproportionately high rates of obesity and diet-related diseases including diabetes, heart disease and hypertension, while people living in communities with a supermarket are more likely to maintain a healthy weight. The study also notes that an investment in erasing the supermarket deficit in underserved areas would have significant economic benefits – supermarkets provide good quality jobs, serve as retail anchors and spark complementary development nearby.ProduceBasketFull

Food for Every Child concludes that “Ohio must address the critical need for more healthy food retail in many communities.” The study recommends that state and local governments in Ohio take the lead in developing a public-private response to ensure that all residents have access to the affordable, nutritious foods necessary to lead a healthy life.

Next steps in this initiative include educating policymakers about the issue and continuing conversations with stakeholders to understand the barriers to fresh food access and how to address them.  Expect a findings report in January 2015. In addition, Finance Fund will be exploring the possibility of creating a statewide healthy food retail financing fund to provide grants and loans to healthy food retail projects creating access for these underserved urban and rural communities.

If you would like to join the conversation, please contact me at dturoff@financefund.org or Director of Development Valerie Heiby at vheiby@financefund.org.

CEO Klein Joins International Oxford Leadership Program

Share
Finance Fund CEO Klein (center) attends international leadership program at Oxford with new friends Biju Mathew and Shrinath Rao.

Finance Fund CEO Klein (center) attends international leadership program at Oxford with new friends Biju Mathew and Shrinath Rao.

 

What a tiny world view we Americans have. Whether we know it or admit it, living in a multi-national world is more normal than abnormal.  I am honored to be among 35 invited participants to the Said Business School, University of Oxford’s Advanced Management and Leadership program. This group is made up of colleagues from 22 nationalities representing 17 different countries.

As the only U.S. citizen participant, I bring a single perspective that in this group is not only unique but quite dissimilar. My friend Josef was born in Austria and works for a Japanese company centered in Germany. Shirnath is Indian and works in Dubai for a Middle Eastern multi-national company and Fuzz is Malaysian representing a corporation with worldwide markets.  Though we are different in many ways we are the same in our basic commitment to figuring out what makes a good leader and how strategy can be effectively implemented.

Dr Johri and Dr Hugh Crisp at Christ Church College, Oxford

Dr Johri and Dr Hugh Crisp at Christ Church College, Oxford

Dr. Lalit Johri, director, has introduced us to various faculty who have presented mostly unpublished research and led us through an intriguing and insightful process that focuses our diverse experiences and perspectives to pull intuitive approaches and feedback on cutting edge revelations. It’s pretty “heady” stuff but more fun than I’ve had in a long time.

My challenge is to listen and learn during my interaction with this amazing group of colleagues and transfer some of the wisdom back home.

 

Idea Foundry Links Technology Space with Community Development

Share
Finance Fund EVP Strategic Initiatives

Finance Fund EVP Strategic Initiatives

 

One of the exciting things about the work of Finance Fund is seeing catalytic projects develop that are on the cutting edge of neighborhood development.

Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to help cut the chain (more on that in a minute) on the Columbus Idea Foundry, a unique “maker space” located in Franklinton, one of Columbus’ dynamic emerging neighborhoods.

The Columbus Idea Foundry (CIF) is the brain child of Alex Bandar, a scientist turned entrepreneur who saw the opportunity to help artists, inventors, designers and fabricators to get access to critically needed – but expensive – equipment and services to develop their ideas.

CIF members get training and access to tools and technology ranging from the conventional to the high-tech.  In addition, members can tap into valuable business services such as branding, marketing, legal and accounting that are necessary to take their enterprise to the next level.

The CIF is located in a renovated warehouse in Franklinton, located west of Downtown Columbus in the original settlement area of Columbus in 1795. Over the years, the area saw disinvestment as a result of periodic flooding that also discouraged development. After construction of a long-needed floodwall, the neighborhood has been experiencing resurgence as the new place for arts, entrepreneurs and urban living.

Franklinton Development Association (FDA) Executive Director Jim Sweeney has worked hard to bring the CIF to Franklinton as part of FDA’s mission to advance housing, business, the arts and real estate activities in the neighborhood.

From left:  Jim Sweeney, Mark Barbash and Mayor Michael Coleman get ready to open the Idea Foundry.

From left: Jim Sweeney, Mark Barbash and Mayor Michael Coleman get ready to open the Idea Foundry.

Now, back to cutting the chain. Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman used a blowtorch to cut a chain as part of the CIF space dedication celebration to symbolize the vital link between manufacturing and community revitalization.

Finance Fund provided a predevelopment grant to fund FDA’s feasibility study on potential uses for the warehouse. Additional support for CIF came from the Columbus Foundation, the City of Columbus, and most recently a grant from ArtPlace America, a non-profit group that invests in projects in which “artists and arts organizations play a…central role in strategies to help shape their communities’ social, physical and economic futures.”

You can get more information on the project at www.columbusideafoundry.com or send me an email at markbarbash@financefund.org

 

 

 

 

 

Kent State Hotel & Conference Center Open for Business

Share

I recently toured the Kent State University (KSU) Hotel and Conference Center with Finance Fund EVP & Chief Financial Officer Diana Turoff, Hotel & Conference Center General Manager Mike Riccio, and Asset Manager Lawrence Carter. 

While walking the facility, I was impressed by the guest rooms, meeting spaces, common areas and the surrounding improvements to the area the hotel was a part of. On-site amenities include various conference rooms, on-site restaurants and lounge, workout facility, indoor pool and business center.

DSC_0242DSC_0250One of the meetings spaces available at KSU Hotel & Conference Center.

There are 94 guest rooms including a presidential suite that provides great views, inside the room, and outside on the balcony, to the KSU campus and its new Esplanade which connects the campus to downtown Kent. This indicates the importance of the hotel to the university’s development, as the Esplanade leads to the Hotel and Conference Center.

The KSU Hotel and Conference Center opened for business in June 2013. The hotel has received positive feedback for allowing visitors of Kent to stay in the city itself rather than traveling to Cuyahoga Falls, Hudson, or other cities for the accommodations that they are looking for. The Hotel & Conference Center opens significant opportunity for international businesses that are headquartered in Kent as well as future jobs for area residents.

The hotel has been especially positive for the university leaving visitors, parents, and prospective students with a first rate impression of the university and its accommodations.

Redevelopment of the area between campus and downtown Kent required a strong public-private partnership between the Kent State University Foundation, and the Pizzuti Companies of Columbus, OH, with project investment totaling nearly $15.4 million. Finance Fund provided a total of $10.56 million in federal and state New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC).

The project generated 430 construction jobs as well as 42 permanent jobs in a community with a 29 percent poverty rate.

If you have any questions about the Kent project, please feel free to contact me. Matt Frank, Controller at 614.568.5051 or mfrank@financefund.org.

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

Sign Up for
our e-newsletter


Subscribe to our
blog rss feed

COPYRIGHT © 2014 FINANCE FUND. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. V2.0.1