Many in the community have questions about what Middletown Moving Forward is, who is involved in the group, and what purpose they serve for the City.
Middletown Moving Forward (MMF) was created to capitalize on economic development opportunities for Middletown. As a community improvement corporation (CIC) under Ohio law, it is a designated agent for the City of Middletown’s industrial, commercial, distribution, and research economic development activities. This means that MMF, through its public-private partnership, has authority specified in state codes to facilitate and support economic development for the city. Because it is a private/public partnership, the CIC enjoys some business advantages available to the private sector and some government advantages available to Ohio Municipalities. It is designed under Ohio law to offer the broadest benefits of both worlds.
As a private/public partnership, the Board is made up of local business people and government staff and elected officials. The current Board is composed of:
Ken Cohen President of Cohen USA Board President
Larry Mulligan Mayor of Middletown Board Vice President
Denise Hamet Middletown Economic Development Director Board Treasurer
Debbie Garitson Econ. Development Asst. Board Secretary
Doug Adkins Middletown City Manager Trustee
Dora Bronston City Council Trustee
Matt Eisenbraun Asst. Econ. Development Director Trustee
Rick Fishbaugh Fishbaugh Homes Trustee
Michelle Greis Middletown Finance Director Trustee
Jim Kleingers President, The Kleingers Group Trustee
Dick Lange Chairman, Chamber of Commerce Trustee
Greg Martin President, Greg Martin Excavating Trustee
Dan Nix Gen. Mgr., Research and Innovation, AK Steel Trustee
Rick Pearce President and CEO, Chamber of Commerce Trustee
Mike Stauberg President, Atrium Medical Center Foundation Trustee
Tom Swope Frost Brown Todd Trustee
Anita Scott Jones City Council City Council Alternate
Calista Smith Interim Director
Middletown Moving Forward is focused on the following goals and activities for the next three to five years:
- Supporting Middletown’s development project pipeline, particularly in commercial, low-to-moderate income areas such as downtown Middletown and the regional airport area. MMF would like to support the pipeline by establishing a $5 million Reinvestment Fund to provide gap or bridge financing to construct or renovate commercial or mixed used properties.
- Facilitating partnerships and connection for shared economic development priorities. MMF will use its public-private collaboration to make sure all stakeholders are communicating and aligning to shared economic development goals.
- Lending expertise to business attraction, retention, and expansion activities. MMF will continue to support the City of Middletown’s economic development department in providing time and expertise to help attract, retain, and expand businesses in Middletown. Middletown Moving Forward has identified five key geographic areas in the city as high potential for industrial and commercial economic development: the Downtown/ Central Business District, Hook Field Airport area, Cincinnati-Dayton Road Corridor, the Renaissance District, and MADE Industrial Park.
The Reinvestment Fund concept is already being used in nearby communities to great success. As an example, check out the Hamilton Core Fund (http://corehamilton.org) and the Northern Kentucky Catalytic Fund (http://thecatalyticfund.org).
The following is an extremely simplified example of what this fund is designed to do.
As a concept, MMF would ask various banks, foundations, etc., to donate to the Fund as a reinvestment tool for the City. The Community Reinvestment Act of1977 encourages depository institutions to help meet the credit needs of the communities in which they operate, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.
For the purposes of this discussion, let’s say 10 banks each contributed $500,000 to create the $5 million fund.
A new business then approaches the City with the prospect of constructing a new building and adding attractive jobs to the City. The total project cost for this made up business is $ 8 million.
The developer can finance 80% of the cost through traditional means, and the owners can contribute the remainder in cash or equity except for $400,000. That means that the project is fully funded for $7.6 of the total $8 million project costs. Assuming that the Board believed in the project, the owner’s business plan, and the projected benefits in property taxes and jobs, the Reinvestment Fund would take a look at funding the “gap” in financing, $400,000 in this made up example. To make it more attractive to the donor banks, the fund would spread the $400,000 financed amongst the several banks in the Fund so that each bank had limited exposure in financing the gap for this project. The gap financing would have an attractive interest rate for the banks to match their increased risk in funding the project.
The purpose of the fund is to provide the final piece of financing needed to bring reinvestment, jobs and new development to areas that have experienced increased risk due to prior disinvestment or to fund new, untried, but viable business concepts. It is not a silver bullet for redevelopment, but it offers another tool for the City to use as an incentive to invest in buildings and jobs in Middletown.
The Core Fund and the Catalytic Fund each took several years to build the fund and to gather the underwriting expertise necessary to analyze and invest in future projects. MMF’s fund will also take time, work, and expertise to become a viable incentive for future business projects. The work we are doing now will hopefully bring new opportunities to Middletown in future years.