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Focus 52 Program

The Focus 52 Program will help fund transformative neighborhood Economic and Community Development Projects in order to grow the City’s tax base by creating jobs and/or increasing the population of the City. Projects will be fully underwritten with a goal of achieving 3:1 leverage of private funds to public funds. The Focus 52 Program will use 2 sources to borrow funds:

  • Economic Development Bond Fund – This fund is expected to create $52 million of capacity for neighborhood projects. Debt service will be $4 million for 20 years if all funds are allocated and will be paid from non-tax revenue. These are special obligation bonds. 
    • Aim – Fund will be used for site assembly, site preparation, renovation, and new construction. All sale proceeds from property acquired through the Focus 52 Program will be reinvested back into the program. All future projects will require approval by City Council.
    • Current Uses – This fund has already been used to fund Jordan Crossing ($6.2 million), Mercer Commons ($2 million), and Gateway V ($5.5 million).
  • HUD Section 108 Loan Pool – This fund is expected to create $37 million for neighborhood projects that create housing, jobs, or services for low to moderate income people. This fund borrows from HUD against future CDBG allocations. Most of these projects will be performing loans that will be fully repaid plus interest.
    • Aim – Funds will be used for Economic Development Projects ($11 million), House Tax Credit Bridge Loans ($17 Million), the Homeless to Homes Initiative ($7 million), and the Community Development Loan Pool ($2 million). All future projects will require approval by City Council.
    • This portion of the program still needs approval from HUD.

Priority Areas

This fund is flexible and can be used for projects in any neighborhood that is ready to meet the goals of the program. However, the following areas are considered priorities based on existing plans and other programs:

  • Go Cincinnati – Seymour/Reading Corridor, Madisonville, South Mill Creek
  • Walnut Hills NBD
  • College Hill NBD
  • Westwood NBD
  • Uptown Tech Initiative
  • Fresh Food Initiative

“Transformative” Project Criteria

This fund uses specific criteria when evaluating potential “transformative” neighborhood projects. In order to maximize results and efficiently use available funds, one or more criteria must be met:

  • Job Creation – Project has 50 jobs or more
  • Private Leverage – Project has a 3:1 minimum
  • Increase in Property Values – Project has a 25% increase over 10 years
  • Total Project’s Cost – This one actually depends on the neighborhood of the project


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