The West Virginia Community Development Hub will receive $46,000 for its community economic development efforts in Boone and Lincoln counties. Focusing specifically on Madison and Hamlin, the project will work on the “diversified growth” of the towns by helping small businesses and encouraging sustainability. This is the second year the project received funding from GKVF, and the money will go toward supporting community teams that help service local entrepreneurs, as they work on developing ideas.
The Opportunity Zones Program is a new community development program established by Congress as a result of Public Law 115-97, also known as the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
The Opportunity Zones Program gives each state’s Governor the authority to designate Opportunity Zones, or areas of populations that are eligible to receive private investments through Opportunity Funds. While the designation does not guarantee private sector investment, it does make it eligible under Federal guidelines. The program is designed to drive long lasting investments into rural and low-income urban communities in every U.S. state and territory.
The West Virginia Development Office’s application cycle for 2018 Land and Water Conservation Grant Funds is now open.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund program for FY2018 will prioritize new or renovated public park spaces. Projects that demonstrate collaboration among area businesses, community-based organizations and government entities will be given preference.
The program is designed to help increase the quality of life across West Virginia for both residents and visitors alike by promoting community culture, leisure activities and healthy lifestyles.
Applications must be postmarked on or before April 15, 2018. Electronic submissions are allowed and encouraged.
The next time you come across a burned-out house in danger of collapse, take a moment to think about Kanawha County.
The Kanawha County Commission recently approved a $1 million demolition program to remove up to 114 uninhabitable structures, thanks in large part to the West Virginia Housing Development Fund’s Property Rescue Initiative.
Kanawha County currently allocates 100 percent of its building permit fees to demolish dilapidated structures. In order to ramp up its efforts and make this pool of funding go further, the county leveraged its demolition fund to apply for an interest-free loan through the Property Rescue Initiative.
The Property Rescue Initiative is a program available to municipalities that want to rid their communities of blighted and dangerous properties. The program provides cities and counties with financing to acquire, demolish, or deconstruct residential and mixed-use buildings that constitute a health and safety hazard.
The West Virginia Housing Development Fund recognizes that communities across West Virginia have varying levels of capacity and resources to dedicate to dilapidated buildings — and that a loan to remove uninhabitable structures may be an unattainable first step.
As a result, it created a technical assistance program — free of charge — for municipalities and counties seeking to implement or expand a dilapidated building mitigation program, including guidance on financing the removal of unsafe structures.
In collaboration with the Housing Development Fund, the West Virginia Community Development Hub, the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center (NBAC), and the Land Use & Sustainable Development Law Clinic provide technical assistance that is responsive to a community’s specific needs and may include:
- Mobilizing community members
- Identifying and inventorying problem properties
- Developing community vision
- Creating redevelopment plan
- Legal review of ordinances and codes
- Title opinions
- And more!
Kanawha County has a sustainable dilapidated building mitigation program with a three-person planning department, solid enforcement, and a robust pool of demolition funding.
Because of its capacity and resources, the county is able to go after more complex sources of financing to tackle its problem properties.
The Hub, NBAC, and the Law Clinic aim to build other communities up to this level of capacity and resources, and assist with the development and expansion of sustainable dilapidated building mitigation programs across the state, through the Property Rescue Initiative technical assistance and the upcoming BAD Buildings Summit.
The BAD Buildings Summit, which will be held Tuesday, November 14, 2017, in Morgantown, is a statewide event that will provide trainings to address vacant and dilapidated properties and will identify systemic challenges that block efforts to tackle these properties.
Registration information will be available in early summer. Until then, please mark November 14 on your calendar!
If you’re interested in learning more about the Property Rescue Initiative technical assistance or the BAD Buildings Summit, reach out to me at email@example.com or 304-533-0788.
The West Virginia Good Jobs Pitch Contest is looking for entrepreneurs who want to start, grow or save their business. Enter to win up to $10,000!
The deadline to apply is June 19. Applications accepted here: http://bit.ly/goodjobspitch
The Good Jobs Pitch Contest stems from Strong Mountain Communities’ desire to see Southern West Virginia thrive economically and socially into the future.
But, no single silver bullet will transform the economy and give it the stability and longevity we wish it would have. That will come from a combination of different enterprises in various sectors working together to create a unique Appalachian economy throughout the region.
This pitch contest is designed to encourage and nurture the entrepreneurial spirit of West Virginians, particularly in the southern part of the state, to start, grow, or re-tool their businesses.
The cash grants for contest winners are meant to attract applicants, but the very process of applying for the contest gives entrepreneurs and business owners access to technical assistance in business plan development, marketing, and legal assistance.
Furthermore, the pitch contest highlights entrepreneurial activities going on in the state and draws attention to them such that angel and venture capital investors, loan funds, banks and other financial organizations are able to find and financially support new businesses in various sectors across southern West Virginia.
Each of the five business categories will be awarded a first-place prize of $10,000 and a second-place prize of $5,000.
For more information: Jina Belcher, Director of Business Development
firstname.lastname@example.org or 304.888.1149.
First things first – what exactly is a VISTA? A VISTA is a person who is dedicating a year of their life to making a real difference in a community that needs help.
VISTA roll up their sleeves and work their butts off, often on problems that have no visible end in sight, often without thanks or acknowledgement, and often with little or no support.
VISTA help struggling West Virginia communities make real and positive changes.
But this comes at a cost. Over the past four years, The Hub has spent more than $94,000 so dozens of communities and small organizations across West Virginia can get the help they need, but often cannot afford.
If your community or organization has benefited from a VISTA, say thanks by contributing a few dollars to The Hub’s VISTA fundraising campaign this summer.
Whether it’s $5 or $500, it will help.
VISTA make good things happen.
Just ask Whitesville, where VISTA Marsha Shonk has been able to start a local food growing program with almost no funding by soliciting seed donations from large seed companies.
Or just ask Ripley, where VISTA Joshua Donohew has sparked new life in an abandoned downtown building, and created new recreation and tourism opportunities for Jackson County.
Or just ask Grafton, where VISTA Breanna Collins helped continue the remarkable progress of All Aboard Grafton.
The Hub knows that VISTA can often be the spark that drives transformative improvements in a community. It’s why we manage and sponsor VISTA.
But, this comes at a cost. And we’re hoping you believe in the power of VISTA enough that you’ll share that cost with us.
VISTA receive a living allowance, health care coverage, training and travel expenses. And organizations like The Hub have to cover much of that cost.
Here’s how it works. For every two VISTA The Hub places in a community, we have to cover the cost of one – about $11,600 per VISTA.
Over the past four years, The Hub has spent more than $94,000 so dozens of communities and small organizations across West Virginia can get the help they need, but often cannot afford.
And so this summer we’re asking for some help.
If your community or organization has benefited from a VISTA, say thanks by contributing a few dollars to The Hub’s fundraising campaign.
Whether it’s $5 or $500, it will help.
Registration has opened for the 11th annual Run For It, a 2k walk and 5k race in Davis hosted by the Tucker Community Foundation that has helped raise more than $1.2 million for nonprofits, civic organizations, and other charitable causes throughout the Potomac Highlands region.
The event, on Saturday, Sept. 23, is held in conjunction with the annual Leaf Peeper’s Festival, a cool little mountain gathering that consumes the town and attracts a strong following. As well as the race itself, Run For It is a great opportunity to enjoy local crafts, music, a wide variety of festivities and the season’s first glimpse of fall foliage.
Not to mention the chance to win large cash prizes for your favorite nonprofit organization or charity!
Speed is not required to win and all cash prizes are donated to the winner’s favorite charitable cause.
With more than 100 awards and a cash purse exceeding $80,000 organizers anticipate a good response. Teams must register before July 1. Racers can register up to and including race day. Register online at www.raceroster.com/11783.
Congress jumped into the coal-economy debate this week with two separate bills to create employment by freeing up federal reclamation funds. Groups that have promoted the approach prefer the bill that would tie spending more closely to economic development.
Kentuckian Sarah Bowling thinks Appalachia’s economic future is tied to coal, but not in the way you might think.
She’d like the federal government to stimulate jobs restoring mine lands, not making more of them.
“You go up the hollers in East Kentucky, there’s abandoned, rusty equipment all over the place,” said Bowling, a native of Pikeville, Kentucky. “Up the creek, there’s a sludge pond just sitting there. There’s waste all over the place.”
She says that the signs of a contracting coal industry and the need for jobs to replace work in the coalfields are everywhere you look.
Bowling is part of a regional effort to accomplish just that. She’s a member of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, a grassroots organizing group involved with a regional campaign with hopes for economic development and diversification in the region’s coal-dependent communities.
Dubbed the RECLAIM Act, the package of policies seeks to direct mine reclamation resources toward new investments in jobs and opportunities…
In an effort to incentivize investment in West Virginia’s struggling communities, a bipartisan group of state senators introduced Senate Bill 341, which would establish a tax credit program aimed at spurring economic growth and business activities in West Virginia’s low-income neighborhoods.
The bill unanimously passed a vote by the full Senate on Tuesday, March 21, after passing through the Senate Economic Development and Finance Committees. It was then reported to the House, where it has been double referenced to House Small Business, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development, and then House Finance.
To have a chance at becoming law, SB 341 will have to speed through its committee references and reach the floor of the House by Thursday, April 6.
Modeled after the federal New Markets Tax Credit Program, this proposal would incentivize private investment in West Virginia’s low-income communities by providing private investors with a tax credit for equity investments made in businesses or economic development projects in distressed communities.
The bill specifically targets businesses working in coordination with Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), a critical player in the community development field, and could be used to support investment in health care facilities, new grocery stores in West Virginia’s food deserts, mixed-use redevelopment projects, and direct investments in businesses.
In 2000, the federal New Markets Tax Credit program was implemented to drive investment in low-income communities and is currently funded through 2019.
Thus far, Congress has allocated $61 billion in New Market Tax Credit investments throughout the country. On an annual basis, the U.S. Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund allocates the tax credit funding to approved Community Development Entities (CDEs). A CDE then takes their allocated credit and matches an investment in a business or economic development project located in a struggling community.
Investors in the CDE then receive a tax credit valued at 39 percent of the cost of the qualified investment that can be claimed by the investor over the course of seven years.
At the close of FY 2016, the US Treasury concluded that the New Market Tax Credit has leveraged $8 of private investment for every $1 of federal funding, financed more than 5,400 businesses, created or retained 275,000 jobs, and supported the construction of 178 million square feet of manufacturing, office and retail space.
In West Virginia, 17 projects have been completed using New Market Tax Credits, totaling $97 million. Kentucky has attracted $730 million in new market investment, $1.4 billion has been invested in Pennsylvania, and Ohio (photo, above) has attracted more $1.9 billion in new market credit investment.
To address this disparity, Senator Shelley Moore Capito introduced the Creating Opportunities for Rural Economies (CORE) Act in the U.S. Senate in 2016, which would set aside 5 percent of the funding allocated to the New Market Tax Credits program annually for struggling coal communities. West Virginia Congressman Evan Jenkins also introduced the CORE Act in the US House. However, the federal legislation has yet to move.
The Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 238, which would increase the state tax credit available for redeveloping historic buildings, passed through the full Senate unanimously on March 29, and was reported to the House, where it was referenced to the House Finance Committee.
The substitute is essentially the same as the original bill with the addition of a December 31, 2017 effective date, which means no historic tax credits will be applied to taxpayers personal or corporate net income tax liability until at least January 1, 2019.
From here, the bill must compete with 40 other pieces of legislation jostling to be put on the House Finance agenda, before moving to the House floor by Thursday, April 6 to have a shot at becoming law.
Increasing the state historic tax credit from 10 percent of 25 percent, would make West Virginia’s 92 commercial and mixed-use historic districts significantly more attractive to developers, which often opt to invest in neighboring states like Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, thanks to higher state historic tax credit incentives.
The passage of this bill through the legislature has already attracted the interest of outside investors. With a close eye on whether the increased tax credit eventuates, Brian Wishneff & Associates out of Roanoke, Virginia are looking into redevelopment projects in Charleston, Huntington, Martinsburg, Clarksburg, and Fairmont.
While the final deals are not yet in place, the firm is making plans to invest in the Mountain State following the passage of SB 238. In Clarksburg, City Manager Martin Howe believes an increased state historic rehabilitation credit would incentivize redevelopment of the Goff Building and the Waldo Building, both of which are located in downtown Clarksburg.
Glenn Elliott, the Mayor of Wheeling, recently told The Hub that “increasing West Virginia’s State Historic Tax Credit from 10 percent to 25 percent would open the floodgates of additional investment in Wheeling. Because of Wheeling’s geographic location between Ohio and Pennsylvania (each of which has a 25% historic tax credit), regional developers have too often opted to invest in historic buildings across state lines. If we can level the playing field for our buildings, their unique and impressive architecture will lure development and help contribute to Wheeling’s renaissance.”
At the Hub, we believe a 25 percent credit would:
- Spur private investment. Large and small-scale developers report that historic rehabilitation tax credit programs fill a critical financing gap. However, West Virginia’s current 10 percent rate doesn’t provide enough of an incentive to make a difference in a developer’s decision to undertake a rehabilitation project. A fixed rate of 20 – 30 percent is recommended to constitute a meaningful incentive.
- Create jobs. Most of the new jobs created occur in the construction industry. Unlike new construction, a higher percentage of rehabilitation project costs support labor rather than new materials, which may not always come from in-state suppliers. Trade and professional services also benefit from the program, especially industries such as legal, accounting, architectural, and engineering services, as well as wholesale trade and retail trade.
- Provide a return on investment. One-third of the state’s investment is paid back during the construction phase — before a credit is issued. The rate of return for the remainder of the investment depends on the final use of the rehabilitation. Once the state’s initial investment is recouped, the project continues to yield positive economic impacts through a combination of sales, income, and business taxes. Historic tax credits also have been found to spur new construction and increase the property values in the surrounding neighborhood.
- Repurpose vacant and underutilized buildings. In Ohio, 82 percent of the properties that have been redeveloped with the help of that state’s 25 percent historic tax credit were vacant prior to being redeveloped. Similar vacancy rates are found in other states. When a vacant or underutilized building is repurposed, it generates additional revenues to local government through increased property taxes.
The historic rehabilitation tax credit is one of the few tax credits where the state’s investment is directly recouped via state and local taxes for as long as the rehabbed building is occupied. At a time when West Virginia needs to kickstart its economy, it is critical that SB 238 pass.
Because HB 2545 did not pass out of committee in its chamber of origin prior to March 26, that bill is effectively “dead” — as are the other historic tax credit bills that were introduced but did not move. Com. Sub. SB 238 is now the only historic tax credit bill left standing.