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Munroe Falls -- After years of inactivity, a civic-minded Munroe Falls investment group is nearly ready to lend the community some financial support.
City officials expect Munroe Falls' Community Investment Corp. to receive some substantial funding for the first time since the group's inception nearly four years ago -- exactly how much has yet to be determined.
"The CIC was established in 2009, but now the city finally has a chance to fund it," said Anne DiCola, community and economic development director.
A CIC is a non-profit organization created by the state for the purpose of "advancing, encouraging and promoting" industrial, economic, commercial and civic development, DiCola explained. The state enacted laws permitting municipalities to form CICs more than 40 years ago, and there are more than 235 of the groups active across Ohio.
The city is in the process of finalizing a sale of the former bank building at 9 S. Main St. that has been utilized by the Munroe Falls Police Academy for many years. A portion of funds from that sale, DiCola said, is expected to be allocated to the CIC through City Council.
"We're quite interested in utilizing some of those funds," DiCola said.
The plan was the same in 2009 when the CIC was formed, but the sale of the same city-owned property fell through. There has been virtually no activity within the group or funding provided to it ever since.
The CIC currently has just $1 that essentially keeps its account open.
"The city hasn't been able to put any money into it because we've been very frugal with our money," said Mayor Frank Larson. "The economy has been struggling, and we haven't had anybody really interested in donating to it."
While the corporation operates independently of the city via a 10-person board of trustees featuring five city officials and five private citizens including Larson and DiCola, its activity is held accountable through state oversight.
"City government can be very slow and very cumbersome sometimes," Larson said. "The CIC is an avenue to help expedite some of the those things. It also enters into areas that the city cannot, like making loans."
As its name implies, the CIC can allot money to various groups in various ways with the ultimate goal of supporting the community. The CIC can also be an asset in terms of economic development, DiCola noted, because the corporation may be able to use its funds to support a business considering a location in Munroe Falls.
The CIC's funds can support physical revitalization efforts or provide matching funds when needed. The money can also be used in a revolving-loan capacity where money can be lent out for specific purposes with uncommonly low interest rates.
"Maybe an industry wants a new piece of equipment, or maybe they want to add a job -- they can request money from the CIC for that," Larson explained. "Maybe there's a small company that wants to expand a little bit, but they don't have a need big enough for a bank to look at it, and they don't have the capital. They could come look at the CIC for a small-interest loan."
"It really can be used for anything that's going to help the community," DiCola added. "It's all about enhancing the local economy and stimulating expansion."
DiCola noted that any person or entity interested in making a tax-deductible donation to the Munroe Falls CIC can contact her or Larson at City Hall at 330-688-7491.
Phone: 330-541-9400, ext. 4179