New innovative funding strategy to help center city developments

The Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) has developed an innovative approach to help community organizations build better neighborhoods in Cincinnati's center city.  Program Related Investments (PRIs) are structured as low interest loans or loan guarantees that provide a return on investment for the foundation.

"Using PRIs represents a strategic use of our assets," said Ellen M. Gilligan, vice president for Community Investment for GCF.  "PRIs provide us with another tool to further our mission of enhancing community and neighborhood revitalization.  This approach is especially important during this tight credit market."

The new PRIs will provide the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC), Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) of Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, and the Uptown Consortium with more than $2.5 million in low cost capital that is often needed to make their projects happen.

According to a national study by FSG Social Impact Advisors, PRIs have been used successfully throughout the country and have seen their use grow steadily over the past five years.  The new PRIs being used by GCF have already sparked the following developments:
  1. Redevelopment by 3CDC of 32 market rate and 25 affordable housing units in the fourth phase of Over-the-Rhine's Gateway Quarter (1200-1500 Vine Street).  $1,500,000;
  2. Support capitalization for the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky LISC fund, helping expand investment in housing and other real estate development projects in the region.  $1,000,000;
  3. Financing for phase 1 of commercial redevelopment at 3459 and 3500 Burnet Avenue by the Uptown Consortium as part of the Burnet Avenue Revitalization Strategy.  $546,000.
The return on investment allows community foundations to reinvest the PRI repayments back into the community in a way that creates additional opportunities and increases the impact of contributions.  The appeal is so strong that GCF sees it as a new way of doing business.

"The use of PRIs will be a long-term strategy for GCF," said Gilligan.  "We will continue to invest in established intermediary organizations that are building our local communities, and PRIs are another means to accomplish that."

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Scott Beseler
Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @SoapboxRandy
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