CEDAM Blog

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MHPN Intervention Loan Program

This is a guest post written by Nancy Finegood with the MHPN

bannerLogo1The Michigan Historic Preservation Network (MHPN) announces the launch of its Intervention Loan Program.  A part of the overall MHPN Preservation Fund, the Intervention Loan Program provides small loans of up to $15,000 for repairs to historic buildings located in Michigan.  Eligible applicants include non‐profit organizations, municipalities, Downtown Development Authorities (DDA), landbanks and religious organizations who are the owners or operators of a historic property. Loan proceeds can be used to pay for emergency repairs or rehabilitation of major buildings, such as roofing, windows, structural repairs and HVAC systems. The loan can also be used for stabilization or mothballing of the building, if it is part of an overall rehabilitation plan.

Selection criteria for the award of an Intervention Loan include items such as: historic significance, long term viability, repayment capacity and project location.  Funds are limited and MHPN is currently accepting applications.  Loan approvals will be made on an ongoing, rolling basis.

Michigan has nearly 1,800 historic properties, buildings, structures and districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There are thousands of additional historic buildings in the State that are not listed, and many—registered or not—are in need of significant repair and rehabilitation. Preserving historic homes, buildings and places provides significant economic, community, and environmental benefits.

The MHPN is the only statewide, nonprofit organization dedicated to recognizing and preserving Michigan’s rich cultural and architectural heritage. Its mission is to advocate for Michigan’s historic places to contribute to our economic vitality, sense of place and connection to the past.

For more information about the Intervention Loan Program or to receive an application, please contact MHPN at 517.371.8080 or email at info@mhpn.org.

Entrepreneurs Finding a Home in Michigan

By Marcy Kates, Coordinator of the Microenterprice Network of Michigan

A few weeks ago, the CEDAM blog was titled “Starting a Business in Michigan.” It highlighted not only a few of the unique and exciting businesses that have been developed, but also some great resources to assist in the process.

In June, Michipreneur (a very active blog/social media entity) covered the Mackinac Policy Conference, and simultaneously polled Michigan entrepreneurs across the state to measure their thoughts about the culture awaiting Michigan start-ups in our great state.

It is a pleasant surprise to see that the results aren’t all about the need for start-up capital. Yes, its importance was clear throughout the results. However, the #1 answer to the question “Why did you choose the Michigan city you are in to locate your company?” was “It’s my home.” The two most popular answers to a question asking about most valuable resources were affordable workspace and mentorship.

Opportunities to provide narrative feedback yielded similarly interested thoughts; individuals expressed a desire to locate businesses in walkable, inclusive communities. They appreciate the opportunity for networking and collaboration. One respondent even stated that s/he still wants Michigan communities to be “cooler.

Yes, those who took the survey often stated they wished more investment funding and seed capital was available, but that didn’t take precedence in the comments or the final statistical response. Clearly, emphasis needs to continue on the “community” aspect of “community development” to keep entrepreneurs at home, and to make Michigan a home for new residents.

Starting a Business in Michigan

LINC

LINC began a business incubator in 2011. Today they also have coworking space. (Grand Rapids, MI)

Over the past few years, many CEDAM members have added new services to support small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs. Last month CEDAM connected with the I-69 Trade Corridor Michigan SBDC to film a Starting a Business class that covers everything entrepreneurs should consider to ensure that the business they start will be successful. We bundled the three hour workshop into an hour long video. Copies of the class materials are available below, as well as in the video description on YouTube.

The video is especially useful for those who are unable to make it to one of the many physical locations SBDCs host trainings in.

To attend a Starting a Business workshop in person or register for other business-related trainings from Michigan SBDCs, visit this page.

 


Download All Class Materials (ZIP)

View Individual Class Materials (PDF)
Slides
Guide to Start a Business
Business Plan Worksheet
Michigan eLibrary
Venture Plan Online
Next Steps Homework

Conferences: More than Content

By Liv Hagerman, Events & Membership Associate

Should you attend the conference?

The key attractive point of a conference is the material. Is it supplemental to your job? Are you learning something new? These things make a conference appealing but there is a lot more to a conference than its contents. What if the material is beneficial and interesting but not necessarily new? An important aspect that should urge you to want to go to the conference is the simple chance to network.

Valuable Resources

It’s amazing how much we can learn from each other, without even realizing it. When talking to someone in a similar but different position you are able to see how they handle certain situations. You can consider their technique and process and whether or not their results were successful to help figure out your own process when faced with a similar situation. Everyone has their own technique on how they go about their day to day activities, when you discover one that works better than what you were previously doing you can tweak your way to make it better.

Networking Should Be Both Natural and Planned

From a facilitating point of view, networking is a large part of the conference. Make sure to plan in break times (with snacks – people love snacks) and social events for your attendees to mingle. People consistently value and rate highly the networking opportunities on their conference evaluation.  Sometimes people attend conferences and never even attend a single session because they value the opportunity to interact with their peers. While I don’t recommend that, it proves the value of these interpersonal experiences.

Up Close and Personal

Human beings are social beings! Networking is the chance to relax and share information. It’s a casual way of learning that doesn’t have the pressure of the presentation room. A lot of the time, attendees will learn more from their peers than the presentations. Why? The conversations that happen are extra engaging! Generally, these conversations are more intimate since they’re one-on-one or in small groups of three or four. When given the time to get to know each other, you gain a different  perspective in your industry and build authentic relationships.

Happy Attendees = Success

I’m not saying that content isn’t important; the content is your biggest seller! However, a conference shouldn’t rely solely only on its content for it to be a success. Some of the most important information can be the driest presentation but still necessary and a large selling point. Networking makes a conference fun, and can help elevate moods to keep attention sharp.

Voices of AmeriCorps: Community Partnerships

“Before starting this project, I did not understand the importance of community partnerships and involvement when trying to organize workshops likes this one and other similar functions. I’ve learned that, sometimes, to be able to help is to know somebody who is able to help. This idea demonstrates why community partners are so important, for as we continue to forge relationships with each other we, at the same time, strengthen each other’s ability to help those that we serve.”

-Andre Crotte, WMU graduate and co-developer of the Spanish-language Financial Education & Foreclosure Prevention Workshop

Crystal Elissetche

Crystal Elissetche, MFPC member serving at Kalamazoo Neighborhood Housing Services

By Crystal Elissetche, Michigan Foreclosure Prevention Corps Member

From Southern Texas to Michigan
I am the daughter of Mexican-migrant parents. Currently, I am serving my second AmeriCorps term with the Michigan Foreclosure Prevention Corps at Kalamazoo Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc. (KNHS) helping to lessen the impact of foreclosure.  But before arriving at AmeriCorps, I grew up on the Texas border in the 4th poorest county in Texas and where the dominant language is Spanglish. My formative years were spent traversing the United States following ‘the crops’ all the way from Texas to Michigan onto Washington and back to Texas. These experiences forced upon me an awareness of the inequalities and poverty that plague the United States. Having borne witness to the exploitation of people during my young life is what fuels my passion for helping underserved groups, especially migrant and immigrant communities. It is this passion that has led me to AmeriCorps, and which motivates me every day during my service year. Fueled by this passion, I have dedicated my second term to expanding foreclosure prevention services to Kalamazoo’s Spanish-speaking community. A task that is too big to tackle alone.

Growing Hispanic Community
According to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau, Kalamazoo, MI has experienced a double digit increase of Hispanic residents from 2000 to 2010. Kalamazoo’s Hispanic population increased 43% to 4, 736, “…making efforts to increase educational and economic opportunities to the Hispanic community vital to the region’s future…” (2011, Growth in Population of Hispanic People in Kalamazoo Points to need for Better Education, MLive.com). After critically considering and analyzing the needs of Kalamazoo’s Hispanic community, I realized there is a gap in services for monolingual residents, leading me to the idea of a Spanish-language Financial Education & Foreclosure Prevention Workshop. Thankfully, I had the full support of KNHS and due to connections formed at a previous service project, I had a strong network of local partners also willing to help. One of these partners happened to be Western Michigan University Professor Michael Millar.

Connecting Households to Foreclosure Assistance
Working with Professor Millar and his service-learning class, I recruited and directed two WMU students to structure and execute the workshop. Modeled after KNHS’ early programming, the workshop became a tool to assess community need and to begin mapping out how services are currently accessed by Kalamazoo’s Spanish speaking community. Three service agencies, including Telamon, Inc., Community Federal Credit Union, and The Kalamazoo People’s Coop, along with six volunteers, assisted in launching the workshop. New connections were formed and existing connections have been strengthened as a result. Our collective effort has resulted in a substantial increase in the number of Spanish speaking households seeking KNHS foreclosure assistance.

Professor Millar is committed to continuing a partnership with KNHS and the future MFPC member. Beginning in the fall of 2014, WMU students will be tasked with launching mobile-workshops that address financial literacy and foreclosure prevention. KNHS and I believe this service project is the start of something big in Kalamazoo.

Crystal Elissetche is an AmeriCorps member at Kalamazoo Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc. in Kalamazoo.

This post is part of a blog series highlighting the viewpoints of Michigan AmeriCorps Foreclosure Prevention Corps members serving at different foreclosure host sites around Michigan. View information about the program or see more stories in this series.

 

The Bright Side: Michigan Housing & Community Development Fund

If Michigan is going to be a comeback state, we need to find a way to create communities people want to live in. One of CEDAM’s policy goals is to fund the Michigan Housing and Community Development Fund. We traveled the state to visit completed and in-progress projects made possible by the fund to see what difference it has made for homeowners, business owners and residents.


MiPlace


1 mhcdfMichigan Housing and Community Development Fund

[watch now]

This video introduces the MHCDF, its purpose, history, and projects made possible by the fund.

2 habitatGrand Traverse Neighborhood, Flint

[watch now]

Habitat for Humanity of Genesee County has revitalized 30+ homes in Flint’s Grand Traverse Neighborhood.


3 GatewayThe Gateway, Fremont

[watch now]

Visit a historic 1926 high school in downtown Fremont that Home Renewal Systems is renovating into senior apartments.


4 west villageWest Village Manor, Detroit

[watch now]

The retail space in West Village Manor was vacant and barely habitable before LAND, Inc. purchased the building and renovated the spaces, which are now home to local businesses and organizations.


5 willow havenWillow Haven, Linden

[watch now]

Venture, Inc. acquired these apartments and completely transformed them.


6 herkimerHerkimer Apartments, Grand Rapids

[watch now]

Dwelling Place revitalized an entire block in Grand Rapids, including the historic 1985 Herkimer Hotel and a new development behind it.


7 conclusionWhy MHCDF?

[watch now]

Final thoughts on the Michigan Housing and Community Development Fund and what happens without community improvements.

 

Fresh Food Perspective

Inside the ANC GardenHouse

Inside the ANC GardenHouse

All around us are people preparing and planting their gardens for the summer growing season, energized by the sunlight and warmer weather. Farmers markets are starting to advertise their summer hours and soon it will be easy to find fresh and delicious food on any given day and time.

Resolving Local Food Challenges
Despite the seemingly bountiful nature of food opportunities, food deserts are a very real problem in Michigan. Many CEDAM members have programs that help narrow the gap, empower residents and use food-based programs to transform their communities. Through Connect & Share, our monthly lunchtime webinar series, we’ve talked with innovative organizations working to do just that. One example of a successful program is the GardenHouse project, hosted by the Allen Neighborhood Center (ANC) in Lansing. Rita O’Brien described their CSA development, youth programs, adult workshops and other fundraisers that help support the work that they do. On the West side of the state, Niles Main Street Director Lisa Croteau shares their story about the creation of Bensidoun Market, and how their community kitchen and entrepreneur services support the local food system. These and all other past webinar recordings are available on demand in the Connect & Share archive if you would like to hear in more detail how these programs work and benefit their communities.

Our national partner, The National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations (NACEDA), recently published a blog post about efforts of a group in Youngstown, Ohio in establishing Urban Roots Farms. As described so well in that post, “The impact made by Sophia and her colleagues at YNDC shows that solutions for America’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods don’t need to be as complex and intertwined as the problems they intend to solve.” As we see these creative solutions have an effect on our populations, we only become inspired to do more.

What programs does your organization have to create equitable access to safe and healthy food?

Michigan Communty Development Training

If you are in the Community Economic Development industry in Michigan, there is a chance you’ve heard some buzz around the new comprehensive training program: Michigan Community Development Training (MCDT). If you haven’t heard about it or are interested in more information about this valuable program then sit back, relax and enjoy this written introduction.

What is Michigan Community Development Training?  

Michigan Community Development Training is a comprehensive and extensive training and technical assistance resource for Community Housing Development Organizations (CHDOs) and organizations and individuals looking to become CHDOs. Not looking to obtain CHDO status? Have no fear, this program also promotes training and technical assistance for all types of community development practitioners in Michigan.  After all, MCDT’s main goal is to provide you and your organization with the resources you need to increase capacity within your organization; something that all types of practitioners need. On the MCDT website, you will find many of these resources including:

  • A comprehensive training calendar promoting a wide-array of training occurring all over the state.
  • Links to our State-wide Partner’s websites.
  • Resources to help you stay connected with the program’s updates.
  • The Comprehensive Training Matrix.

What is the Comprehensive Training Matrix? 
The Training Matrix is a great tool to gain an understanding of what types of training and technical assistance that your specific type of organization needs in order to increase capacity. If you want your staff, board and volunteers to achieve their maximum potential with the assistance of many accomplished state-wide agencies who provide training and technical assistance, this is a great place to get started.

2

How do I use the Comprehensive Training Matrix?
When you first open the excel document that contains the general matrix flow-chart, you’ll notice that it outlines a set of core competencies in which your organization should be proficient. These core areas are:

  • Board Development
  • Organizational Development
  • Real Estate Development
  • Economic Development
  • Community Planning
  • Placemaking
  • Understanding Federal/State Programs

Within these core competencies are corresponding training and technical assistance topics that are being offered by our statewide partners.  This is represented in the screen shot bellow:

1

You’ll notice that there are 3 columns adjacent to the corresponding competency area which outline which organizations are offering Technical Assistance, Training Topic Areas and which organizations are offering Training in that topic. If you are looking for an expanded description of each training topic listed in the matrix, you may hover your cursor over the Training Topic, a text box will appear with a short description.  At the bottom of the excel document, you will find different tabs which list different types of organizations so you may view a version of the matrix tailored especially for your type of agency.  These tabs include matrices for:

  • Local Units of Government
  • CHDOs
  • Block Club Neighborhood Watch
  • Organized Nonprofits
  • Downtown & Main Street Groups.

If you are not sure which category you fall into, you may always reference the General Matrix Flow Chart (first tab)

3

As stated before, the matrix is just one of the many resources that are available on the MCDT website.

So, what is the future of the MCDT program?

In addition to the matrix being continually updated, the training calendar and partner events will also be updated and promoted. Organizations looking to obtain CHDO certifications through MSHDA or local units of government will greatly benefit from MCDT’s resources and will soon have an opportunity to view the new CHDO application that MSHDA has published. The Training Associate at CEDAM is also working with the MCDT committee to develop a self-assessment checklist to coincide with this CHDO application so organizations and individuals have a better understanding of which thresholds they must meet in order to become certified or recertified as a CHDO.  However, all organizations with varying levels of skill in community development may benefit from examining the matrix and investing in continuous education.

If you have any questions or suggestions for the MCDT committee, are looking to obtain more information or are interested in joining the MCDT committee, please call 517.485.3588 or visit www.MichiganTraining.info

 

Landlords Investing in Tenants to Increase Property Values and Improve Communities

By Jenny Casler, Lansing and Ann Arbor Property Owner

As landlords we have an incentive to improve the condition of our communities in order to increase the return on our investment.  When people want to live, work and play in a community, property values in that community rise.

How can we impact the condition of our communities?  How can we do this as only one person, especially if we don’t live in the community?

This blog post offers some steps, tools and food for thought, and welcomes a discussion on additional thoughts to further improve the actions we can take to improve our communities.

Steps for Increasing Property Values
As a homeowner in both Ann Arbor and Lansing it is obvious to me that houses in the Ann Arbor area can sell for six times the amount of a similar house in the Lansing area.

So, what might be the issues that we can impact in order to increase the property values in the Lansing area?

I see two main factors:

  • Condition of housing stock
  • Community that people want to live, work, and play in

How can we continually maintain or improve the condition of the housing stock, and potentially increase peoples’ desire to live, work and play in our community?

Maintaining or improving the condition of housing stock

1. Screen tenants

  • Ensure that they have a reliable source of income, in order to maintain the household and their involvement in the community
  • Ask yourself, how will these tenants impact the neighborhood?  Will they contribute to the community?  Or, will they disrupt the community?

2. Incentivize the tenant to maintain a clean household and premises

  1. People have different priorities.  Not everybody prioritizes the cleanliness of their homes or premises.  However, the cleanliness of the home is a significant priority to landlords, who ultimately have to mitigate any damages caused by dirt and decay, and may also have a decline in property value related to negative externalities (e.g., trash left outdoors causing the home and neighboring homes to become undesirable places to live).
  2. The “tools” provided in the appendix can be used as needed to incentivize appropriate behaviors, such as when it will lead to a win-win scenario between the landlord and the tenant.  The “tools,” as examples, are sections from a rental lease that can enable the landlord and tenant to negotiate the desired behaviors, assign a value to those behaviors, and hold one another accountable.  The language can be adapted to fit particular situations as necessary.

3.  Maintain open communications with tenants in order to identify and address issues and opportunities, including:

  • Maintaining the status quo
  • Improving the premises, such as upgrades for energy efficiency and exterior appeal

Increasing peoples’ desire to live, work and play in the community
Surely, many factors impact peoples’ desire to live, work, and play in a community. Further, many of these factors are outside of a landlord’s hands (e.g., education, employment, and leisure opportunities).  However, we can take some actions to encourage the residents of the communities to contribute to the success of those factors.

Residents’ active involvement in education and other community activities is necessary for those factors to thrive.  The success of these factors in turn impacts the property values within the community.  In order to incentivize tenants’ involvement in these activities, for example, tenants can be given a discount on their rent for:

  • Volunteering at a:
    • School event
    • Greenhouse
    • Farmers’ Market
    • Neighborhood Center
  • Participating in government meetings (e.g., City Council meetings or master planning sessions)
  • Working or volunteering for a public-sector entity (government, school or nonprofit), which typically provides a lower take-home pay for the employee/tenant.

The example lease language in the appendix shows this incentive as a payment “in arrears.”  In other words, in this example the tenant must provide evidence that an activity was performed, such as a signed note from the event coordinator.  However, the actual implementation is up to the landlord, and can be based on a level of trust created with the tenant as well. The types of activities can be adjusted based on the circumstances in the community, given that they comply with nondiscrimination laws, etc.

Summary
In practice, I have found that having these discussions upfront with the tenants has helped create transparent expectations, including for open and positive dialogue.  The tenants see the serious interest in their livelihoods and their community.

In practice, only one tenant takes advantage of the “active involvement discount.” Nonetheless, the conversations had with tenants, other residents and other stakeholders within the community show that even a dialogue on this topic helps one another realize the impact that we can have as individuals in improving our communities. This dialogue, and the changes that we each make to our own behavior, can ultimately have a positive impact on our communities, and – for landlords – a positive return on investment.

Jenny Casler grew up in the Lansing area and now returns regularly to visit family, work on her rental properties, and look for additional rental properties.

Bringing the Rural Community Together Annually

By Julie Hales-Smith, Coordinator of the Michigan Vacant Property Campaign

If folks were planning to add golf to their itinerary when they traveled up to beautiful Crystal Mountain Resort on April 14 for the Small Town and Rural Development Conference, they were mightily disappointed – snow, ice and cold winds prevailed. However, they were NOT disappointed with the conference itself! In its 10th year, this conference attracts everyone from city managers to Chamber Directors from all over the state who are interested and passionate about small towns in Michigan and the great potential of our rural areas.

The conference kicked off with a pre-conference working session on Monday afternoon – Making Quality Places : Placemaking Strategy Development - that had over 50 people excitedly chattering and talking over each other to conceive, design and plan placemaking projects for eight different communities across the state. The eight communities were selected beforehand from the list of attendees so that people familiar with the communities and who had a stake in the communities would actually be able to take the ideas back. The session was facilitated by Jim Tischler of MSHDA and Mark Wyckoff of MSU LPI and began with an overview of the different types of placemaking. Then the small groups dug into the exercises with gusto. Yes, placemaking is alive and well in small communities – the potential is endless.

Tuesday morning started off with a “bang” or should we say a “pluck”- The Power of Pluck: Big Ideas for Small Communities - from  Bob Jacquart, Chief Executive Officer at Jacquart Fabric Products  who energized and motivated the crowd with his infectious and enthusiastic story of how his family grew a small canvas repair and small custom bag business with only one employee (his Dad??!!)  into a company of over 140 employees with more than $15M in annual sales – all located in Ironwood, Michigan. This man has entrepreneurial spirit written all over him – and of course on his cap is the Sormy Kromer logo – a company he bought several years ago and is expanding as we speak.

The breakout sessions were sprinkled with topics that all folks involved in rural community development need to know about – healthcare delivery in rural settings, updates from state agencies that fund and support rural development, trails, volunteer recruitment strategies and the like. One panel of particular interest featured a brand new technology called Michigan Digital Trails – Marketing Trails for Placemaking and Economic Development. Prima Civitas, through a partnership with GeLo, seeks to bridge the disconnect between trails and the surrounding towns to increase tourism and economic development using location-specific iBeacon technology (check it out at http://primacivitas.org/Our-Work/Regional-Development).

The keynote at lunch was a plucky economic developer from Ontario who convinced the audience that youth outmigration should be re-framed as expatriate attraction – we have a better chance of attracting them back than keeping them home in the first place. And maybe leaving home makes the expats much better community assets when they do come back.

The Tuesday night dinner MUST be mentioned (or EXHAUSTINGLY CHEERED). It was advertised as a “Michigan Food and Beer Pairing with Stormcloud Brewing Company from Frankfort, MI. (Of course non-alcoholic options were available, as well as gluten-free beer.) The food was amazing, the beer intriguingly apt, and oh my goodness the dessert: Naturally Nutty Peanut Butter Pie with Storm Cloud Ice Cream (the peanut butter came from Naturally Nutty in Williamsburg, MI). The crowd was feeling a little “naturally nutty” by the time they finished this sumptuous meal. It was the best conference food ever!

Don’t miss this one next year. According to many of the conference attendees, it keeps getting better with each year. The sponsor, Michigan Rural Council, is a program of the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM). Check out the Michigan Rural Council at http://rural.cedam.info/