The 40-year-old CityWide Development Corporation wants to sever its legal ties to the city of Dayton and restructure so that it can pursue funding only available to private organizations.
CityWide’s 29-member board of trustees underwent strategic planning in 2012 and the changes are a direct result. The plan also involves shrinking the size of its board to 20, dropping a home improvement loan program and, refocusing its development efforts.
“We’ve been around since 1972. It’s a different world today,” Steve Budd, president of CityWide said. “This is a year of transition.”
Programs being dropped, often due to dried up federal funding, frees staff to work on development initiatives in a rebounding Dayton area economy and a smaller board will be more efficient, Budd said.
CityWide was created jointly by local government, business leaders and neighborhood representatives to help businesses create jobs and to strengthen the city’s neighborhoods. On Wednesday, Budd shared proposed changes to Citywide’s governance structure and its new focus with the Dayton City Commission at a work session.
According to CityWide’s Code of Incorporation, three senior city employees constitute its “incorporating member” with authority to sign off on governance changes. That link to government prevents CityWide from becoming a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDIF) and thus ineligible to apply for certain pre-development grants and capital loan programs.
“The CDIF can be a real source of capital for what we do,” Budd said. “The legal tie is not what binds CityWide to the city as partners. It’s the working together for 40 years.”
Under the proposal, CityWide’s leaner 20-member board of trustee would become the “incorporating member.”
Budd said CityWide will continue making Dayton a major focus of its work and wants to make the pledge legally binding in a Memorandum of Understanding. No date has been set for the city commission to consider the governance change.
This week, however, the commission will consider awarding CityWide a $650,000 contract as seed money for its refocused development-related mission, Timothy Downs, Dayton’s deputy director of economic development said.
CityWide has played a role — planning, financing or developing — in many downtown housing projects including The Landing, Sixth Street Lofts and The Cannery. The organization now plans to expand that role to spur more market-rate housing downtown.
“It’s been difficult to find capital for speculative projects since 2008, but the climate is changing,” Budd said.”I think there is a demand for downtown housing. Almost every project that has been done has been a success.”
Budd said the organization is seeking more businesses like Charles Simms Development, a suburban company that developed 18 condominiums downtown. Patterson Square sold out in 2012 and Simms started construction on more condos in the area of Frank and Rubicon streets.
“We need more Charlie Simms,” said Budd, adding CityWide also is looking for developers with experience re-purposing buildings to convert downtown office space to residential units.
A significant change for CityWide will be elimination of its home improvement loan program, which provides up to $10,000 to replace items like furnaces or windows. Budd said federal dollars funding the program are no longer available.
“We really won’t be in that business anymore,” he said.
On Wednesday, the City Commission awarded CityWide a contract for $436,000 in federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) money for a “purchase and rehab program” to reduce blight. The funding comes from a third round of NSP awards that Budd expects will exhausted by year end.
“This has been a major work area for us over the last few years, but it won’t be in the future,” Budd said.
CityWide operates on a $3.5 million budget. About half of it’s revenue comes from real estate. The organization owns the building at 8 N. Main Street where its offices are located; The Neon Movies building 130 East 5th Street; the structure at 313 Mound Street, leased to Atw Automation Inc. and three TechTown buildings, including one with no tenants.
Loan programs such as the Small Business Administration 504 program generate about 30 percent of CityWide’s total revenue and the remaining 20 percent comes from contracts. Budd said he expects to hire one or two more staff this year as CityWide’s focus changes.
“We’ve been through tough times since 2008. We’ve gone from 20 employees to 15,” Budd said. “Now, we’re trying to reposition staff. We have to make sure we have staff with the right skill sets.”