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Kresge Foundation lends $5 million to Port Authority for CBD development

A new commercial real estate fund has been developed in Greater Cincinnati to rehab rundown properties and attract new businesses.

The Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority established the loan fund and in return received $5 million in initial capital from The Kresge Foundation to supplement a 10-year span. According to Gail Paul, the director of communication strategy for the Port Authority, the loan project is part of a development to help bring revitalization to blighted residential and commercial areas in order to broaden arts and culture, retail and enterprise in the area.

“The Port Authority will administer the fund and develop the program through The Kresge Foundation donation," Paul says. "We will announce the first project in the next couple of months. It will be in a neighborhood in which we are already working — Evanston or Bond Hill."

Susan Thomas, executive vice president for the Port Authority, gave a presentation in mid-December detailing the commercial development loan fund to the Port Authority's board members. The meeting was successful, as the board members approved the establishment of the project.

“The overall goal of the Fund is to act as a unique financial tool, not compete with commercial banks or other local lenders,” Thomas says.

In redeveloping the neighborhood business districts in and around Cincinnati, the fund will be transformative in how capital is raised over time to lend a hand to further development.

The initial idea came about through Kresge, which is based in Detroit. Development finance agencies like the Port Authority and foundations can work together on projects (such as the loan fund) for investing in funds for important revitalization work. Kresge’s mission is to expand opportunities for low-income residents in America’s cities through grantmaking and social investing.

Laura Brunner, president and CEO of the Port Authority, says the organization anticipates announcing a 2017 real estate project that is facilitated by this loan fund. Nationally, Kresge’s investment is among the first partnerships between a national foundation and a development finance agency.

Having previously worked in neighborhoods needing the attention, the Port Authority was on Kresge’s radar as a business alignment and source of encouragement. Striving to be the top development partner, the Port Authority is actively engaged in the Cincinnati area, frequently meeting with community leaders, business owners, shareholders and organizations on how to positively join and impact the area’s economic development.

Read more articles by Erin Pierce.

Erin Pierce is a contributing writer for Soapbox, and a recent graduate of Northern Kentucky University.
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