Economic Development Tools: Community Improvement Corporations

HCDC held a workshop last month on a powerful economic development tool:  Community Improvement Corporations (CICs). The powers of CICs as well as case studies for the Cities of Sharonville and Wyoming made for lively discussion.

Case Studies:  Sharonville and Wyoming

Chris Xeil Lyons, Sharonville’s Economic Development Director, kicked off the workshop by providing an overview of the ways in which the City has used its CIC to promote economic development.  The City utilized the CIC to acquire property on Chester Road for the Northern Lights District. Specifically, the CIC acquired property for the Sharonville Convention Center.  One parcel not needed for the Convention Center was sold to Third Eye Brewery, new to Sharonville. Sharonville has also leveraged its CIC to stabilize the downtown “Loop” properties at Depot Square.  The strategy of the CIC is to maintain ownership in order to have input on tenants in the properties.

Megan Statt Blake, Assistant Community Development Director for the City of Wyoming, presented next on Wyoming’s strategic uses of its CIC.  Wyoming’s land use is primarily single family residential (78%) and as such housing stabilization is very much part of its overall economic development strategy.  The CIC has acquired scattered blighted houses from willing sellers. The City recently issued an RFP to developers for an infill housing project for four lots acquired by the CIC.  Secondly, like Sharonville, Wyoming has utilized its CIC to stabilize its business district by acquiring and maintaining ownership of key commercial properties on Wyoming Avenue in the business district, including the former Sturkey’s Restaurant building.  While once a restaurant with regional draw, it sat vacant for several years during the recession making it even more difficult to attract another restaurant. After a failed attempt at an event venue, it has now stabilized with Station Family + BBQ, satisfying the desire of residents for more restaurant options.

Powers of a CIC

Jeff Forbes, Attorney with Wood + Lamping and legal Counsel for the Community Improvement Corporation of Greater Cincinnati, explained that a CIC is a non-profit corporation created and administered under ORC 1724 and 1702, for “advancing, encouraging, and promoting the industrial, economic, commercial and civic development of a community or area” (ORC 1724.01(B)(1)). 

A number of communities in Hamilton County have formed CICs in an effort to promote economic development.  In addition, HCDC staffs the Community Improvement Corporation of Greater Cincinnati, a non-profit corporation organized to promote, encourage, and facilitate the economic and civic development within Hamilton County.

Did You Know?

  • CICs are permitted to borrow money for any purpose of the corporation by issuing debt.
  • CICs are permitted to make loans to persons, partnerships, corporations or other business organizations and to regulate the terms and conditions of the loans.
  • CICs are permitted to purchase real and personal property and to dispose of such property.
  • CICs are permitted to acquire business assets, including the good will, business, rights, real and personal property, and other assets of firms and persons and to assume or pay debts and liabilities of such persons and firms.
  • CICs are permitted to acquire, sell pledge, etc., stock shares, bonds, notes or other securities of persons, firms, or corporations.

Have questions about CICs?  Feel free to contact Bob Pickford at bpickford@hcdc.com.

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