Seminar looks at sources of nontraditional financing

By Jamison Cocklin


A group of community- development organizations and tax experts came together for a half-day seminar on the wide range of nontraditional financing options available throughout Northeast Ohio.

Representatives from Mahoning Valley Economic Development Corp., the Western Reserve Port Authority and the Development Finance Authority of Summit County, among others, spoke Thursday at Kent State University at Trumbull to a group of community leaders and banking officials about how they help to spur both urban- and rural-development efforts.

“We have the experience and the knowledge required to help existing and potential projects identify the programs that best meet their needs,” said Rose Ann DeLeon, executive director, Western Reserve Port Authority. “Then we provide the expertise needed to secure the financing and other types of assistance from the program or combination of programs that will enable them to achieve their goals.”

Created by the Mahoning and Trumbull County commissioners in 1992 to assume ownership of and operational responsibility for Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport in Vienna, the port authority has evolved into a multifaceted development agency.

Many of the development entities that gave presentations have developed a niche role in today’s economy by providing less-restrictive lending services in a tight credit market. Much of the funding the organizations provide goes to businesses, governments and nonprofits of all sizes.

Some groups also provide consulting services to help proprietors access and understand financing, investment or the complicated tax credits that come with development efforts.

Loans, bond funding and access to capital markets and equity investments are just a few services the organizations offer.

They serve companies and nonprofits aimed at creating jobs and revitalizing low-income communities. Typically, the vetting process for loan approval is similar to that of traditional banks, but often less collateral is required.

Many organizations made open appeals for projects to fund.

“We’re looking for something from this part of our service area,” said Christopher Burnham, president of the Development Finance Authority of Summit County, referring to the Mahoning Valley. “We have $70 million. If there’s project interest here, we’d like to know about it.”

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