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Archives for Economic Development/Community Revitilization

HOME Strategies in Small Communities: Big Impact with Little Funding

by Amy Sackman Odum (Director of Community Development, City of Lima Ohio), Guest Contributor

limatrust What can you do with $257,989 in housing funds? In most Ohio markets, it may buy a comfortable home.  In Lima, Ohio, it runs an entire housing program! The City of Lima is the third smallest HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) entitlement community in Ohio. Yet, Lima is attracting attention with the announcement of a 15 million-dollar historic bank building renovation, which will produce 47 apartments and 3 floors of office and retail.  Ten of the apartment units will be market rate. This project is in addition to running a popular housing down payment assistance program and providing home repair loans. How can so little funding produce so much? Several strategies are needed for big results, and to make local needs mesh with limited resources and daunting regulatory requirements.

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Land Banking 101

By Doug Harsany

This article is written to both those operating, or considering the operation of, a land bank, and to anyone interested in community revitalization. For the purposes of this article, a land bank is an organization created to address the challenges associated with vacant and abandoned property within set jurisdictional boundaries. These properties are typically tax foreclosed and are transferred by the government entity to the land bank with clear title. A land bank seeks to manage and maintain these properties with the end goal of returning the properties to productive reuse.

In addition to the legal structures required to make a land bank operational and to acquire properties with clear title, which vary from state to state, there are a number of challenges that land banks often need to address. In this article, we will attempt to introduce important components of five common, but demanding, tasks that land banks often face. We will also seek to provide some basic insight into the successful execution of these tasks.

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Paint the Town Green: A Practical Approach to “Green” Downtown Development

By Crystal Stitzer and Doug Harsany

The term “green” is so overused in today’s society that it almost defines cliché. Today it seems that every organization wants to be and claims to be green. In many cases the rhetoric goes farther than the reality. A lot of things are marketed as green, but many may not really be as environmentally friendly as proposed.
At the time of the Deepwater Horizon accident in 2010, British Petroleum’s mission statement read, “We help the world meet its growing need for heat, light and mobility. We strive to do that by producing energy that is affordable, secure and doesn’t damage the environment.” It all sounds so idyllic, like cows eating grass. Even the company’s logo is designed to make a green statement. It has the bright yellow sun shining in the middle, surrounded by a ring of green leaves, like a big sunflower. According to the February 2015 BP Gulf Recovery Factsheet, BP has spent approximately $28 billion on response, cleanup, early restoration, and claims payments. There were 1,096 miles of shoreline that had some oiling, and 776 of those miles required some measure of cleaning. We are not trying to vilify BP, but what they found out is what Kermit the frog told us long ago. “It’s not easy being green” (The Jim Henson Company Muppet Character)!

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