MORTAR Business Accelerator expands to Uptown

Uptown Consortium, the nonprofit corporation leading the Uptown Innovation Corridor development, announced today that OTR-based MORTAR is expanding service to Uptown. Enterprising residents of Avondale, Clifton, CUF, Corryville and Mt. Auburn can register for one of 15 spots in MORTAR’s initial offering, its inaugural Uptown Entrepreneurship Academy.

MORTAR is launching its Uptown presence with a 12-week training accelerator designed for new entrepreneurs and existing Uptown business owners. The curriculum includes subtleties of starting and running a business, and then expands to testing ideas on a small scale; modeling business scenarios for target customers; and using accessible research. Upon graduation, MORTAR students will present their evolved business concepts to a large audience at community-wide pitch night.

With increased regional attention on the emerging Uptown Innovation Corridor, the Consortium adds the MORTAR urban business accelerator to enhance the ecosystem necessary to attract and support the advancing innovation economy.

Beth Robinson, Uptown Consortium president and CEO recruited MORTAR to Uptown based on its ability to attract a non-traditional, urban population.

“Inclusion isn’t about checking off boxes to say we’re compliant with a process. It’s about leaning in and being accountable to a vision of the future,” said Robinson. “As with any of our partnerships, the goal is to build and execute sustainable strategies around wealth-building for Uptown residents.”

“MORTAR is working hard to change the face of entrepreneurship. We are thrilled to continue this journey, as we expand into the Uptown area and continue to establish Cincinnati as a hub for diverse entrepreneurship. This partnership with Uptown Consortium will allow us to work with underserved entrepreneurs and businesses near the Uptown hospitals, Zoo and UC, which is a high-energy area,” said William Thomas II, MORTAR’s Founding Partner.

The MORTAR partnership adds to the portfolio of Uptown Consortium’s inclusion resources, which includes the Avondale Community Development Corporation, the Greater Cincinnati Urban League, WEB Partners and HCDC.

Uptown MORTAR students will be selected by May 31 for a June start date. The program’s exact start date will be determined by the collective needs of the students who enroll. Interested Uptown residents and business owners can apply online at www.wearemortar.com/program-application/, or email william@wearemortar.com.
 

May 31: Annual Uptown Business Celebration

Uptown Consortium, Inc. (UCI) will hold its sixth annual Uptown Business Celebration on May 31, 2017. This event will celebrate Uptown Cincinnati by recognizing business excellence and a commitment to the Uptown community. There will be complimentary parking in the Kingsgate Marriott and Eden Garages. 

May 31, 2017
11:30 a.m. - Registration                                                       12:00 p.m.- Lunch/ Awards
Kingsgate Marriott

To purchase an individual ticket or a corporate table, please visit our Eventbrite page.

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THANK YOU TO OUR SILVER SPONSORS.png

Interested in sponsoring this event? Contact us for more information. 

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Inclusion in Uptown: Pathways to Highway Construction Careers

The forthcoming  I-71 interchange at Martin Luther King Boulevard in Uptown is already an economic driver for the region, producing new jobs and investments in the urban core. Combining workforce needs from the current construction phase with post-construction development opportunities, the project is expected to have a multimillion dollar ultimate impact.

In addition to serving as master developer for the interchange and surrounding “Uptown Innovation Corridor," Uptown Consortium, Inc. (UCI) plays a leading role in ensuring inclusion is at the heart of the projects. When the interchange and corridor were still in early conception stages, UCI engaged WEB Ventures to serve as professional economic  inclusion consultants for the growing anchor district. As part of a strategic partnership, WEB worked with UCI to outline a cohesive plan for leveraging inclusion opportunities at each phase of development.

The $80 million I-71 interchange development is expected to be completed by summer 2017. Of the 87 workers employed on the job site, 19 are minority contractors training with the "Pathways to Careers in Highway Construction" program.

The $80 million I-71 interchange development is expected to be completed by summer 2017. Of the 87 workers employed on the job site, 19 are minority contractors training with the "Pathways to Careers in Highway Construction" program.

Rather than solely focusing on hiring Uptown residents for temporary labor jobs, UCI and WEB connected local trade unions with skilled service providers – Partners for a Competitive Workforce, Cincinnati Public Schools’ “My Tomorrow” program, United Way, ODOT and various Cincinnati Chamber organizations among them - to create a plan for long-term job creation. According to union officials, this was the first time they’d seen organized trades brought to the table in the formative stages of an inclusion effort.

As a result of these discussions, UCI and WEB created the “Pathways to Careers in Highway Construction” training program. The first-of-its-kind initiative leverages  a variety of existing workforce development programs to ensure minority residents have the skills necessary to transition from on-site training to a full-time trade career. Individuals interested in the four-year program are first connected to service providers and an established apprenticeship program. After receiving a full set of trade tools, they start their training on various job sites where they can earn money while completing the program.

After less than two years, “Pathways to Careers in Highway Construction” has already shown successful results. Of the 87 workers employed on the I-71 interchange job site, 19 are minority contractors training with the program. When these individuals complete their training, they’ll be poised to begin a life-long career with a sustainable income, something that may have been out of reach without this multi-faceted collaboration.

Building in Uptown: Hickory Place Townhomes Success

Uptown Consortium, Inc. (UCI) reached a new milestone in Avondale’s Burnet Avenue revitalization with the complete second phase sale of the Hickory Place Townhomes development.

The eager response to the eight new townhomes was no surprise following the early success of UCI’s initial Hickory Place development. When the first phase of the highly-anticipated Avondale project debuted in 2015, Cincinnati area homes spent an average of 51 days on the market. The first five Hickory Place Townhomes were sold in just 16 days.

Like Phase I, Phase II homes offer a modern, contemporary design and feature:

  • Nearly 1,400 square feet of space
  • 2 or 3-bedroom floor plans
  • 2.5 baths
  • Hardwood floors
  • Private study
  • Stainless steel appliances
  • Quartz countertops
  • 2-car tandem garage
  • On-street parking

The average Phase II townhome sale price was above $240,000. The project team included Wichman + Gunther Architects, Northpoint Advisory Services and John Huber Homes. Theresa Alexander and Mark Dehler, with Coldwell Banker West Shell Metro Link office, served as listing agents.

The $5 million housing project was developed by UCI with collaboration from the Avondale Community Council and the Avondale Comprehensive Development Corporation. Project funders include UCI, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and the Uptown Cincinnati Development Fund, as well as UCI member institutions including the University of Cincinnati, UC Health, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden and TriHealth. 

The next Hickory Place development phase is already underway, continuing the exciting expansion of new single-family residences in the historic Avondale community. Phase III townhomes are expected to hit the market by late summer 2017.

Behind the Scenes of NMTCs

$1.39 billion can have quite an impact, especially when it’s invested directly into community development. But where does that kind of money come from? For Uptown Cincinnati, it came in the form of New Market Tax Credits (NMTCs). Since 2004, Uptown Consortium, Inc. (UCI) has been incrementally awarded more than $158 million in NMTCs. Those core tax incentives attracted an additional $129 million in direct investment and $1.39 billion in related investment in Uptown Cincinnati neighborhoods.

In 2016 alone, Uptown Consortium, Inc. (UCI) was awarded $48 million in NMTCs. The NMTC program, started in the 1990s and managed by the U.S. Treasury Department, incentivizes private capital investments in low-income communities by granting tax credits to an individual or company who makes equity investments in Community Development Entities like UCI. The tax credit, which is claimed over seven years, equals 39 percent of a corporation’s original investment.

In 2016, the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund awarded NMTCs to:

  • 121 organizations nationwide
  •  8 organizations in Ohio
  • 3 organizations in Cincinnati

If you haven’t noticed the transformative changes, it’s OK. For many of us who enjoy Uptown every day, we’ve gotten used to the characteristic changes associated with a Renaissance. If you aren’t here often, I encourage you to leverage your next trip for a little sightseeing. Next time you drive to UC to catch the Bearcats in action, cheer on FC Cincinnati, visit one of the super-specialists in Cincinnati’s innovative health care hub or tour the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, let me know what catches your eye. (@BethUptown)   

From the Desk of Beth Robinson

Community development is multi-disciplined work. Uptown Consortium, Inc. (UCI) and our partners must be strategic about immediate and future opportunities and challenges for Uptown Cincinnati’s five core neighborhoods: Avondale, Clifton, Corryville, CUF and Mt. Auburn. An interdisciplinary approach to identifying, reviewing and selecting the best opportunities for Uptown institutions, businesses and residents is the key to this district’s future, which is central to our entire region.

With more than $1 billion in private real estate and $200 million in UCI investments, we face the important challenge of supporting the ecology between small businesses, entrepreneurs and anchor institutions. Part of that support comes in the form of a tried-and-true concept: shop local. Buying local means your money is directly invested in the community, giving you a reason to feel good about an extra shopping splurge. This support provides community sustainability and makes Uptown a more vibrant and attractive location for future businesses, residents and visitors.

To provide Uptown residents, employees and visitors with all our district has to offer, UCI and our partners created YourUptown.com.

The first of its kind, YourUptown.com includes:

More than 300 subscribers already enjoy the significant savings and unique events ambitious Uptown businesses share with our savvy shoppers.

On behalf of the 800 businesses in our five core neighborhoods, I invite you to stop over to YourUptown.com to explore all the vibrant shopping, delectable dining and energetic entertainment Uptown has to offer.

Living in Uptown: First-Time Homebuyers Win Big with New Uptown Grants

First-time homebuyers have another reason to consider purchasing in the Uptown area, thanks to the new “Live Uptown” Down Payment Assistance Program from Uptown Consortium, Inc. (UCI) and The Home Ownership Center of Greater Cincinnati.

Debuted at a press conference hosted by UCI and The Home Ownership Center on Thursday, Oct. 6, the incentivized program offers more than 50 down payment assistance grants, each for $1,500 per buyer, to those purchasing a home in Mt. Auburn, Clifton, Corryville, Avondale or Clifton Heights/University Heights/Fairview Heights (CUF). Homebuyers who have not owned a home in Cincinnati in the last three years are eligible to apply, and must live in the home for five years as an owner-occupant. The grants can be applied to down payments, closing costs and out of pocket costs.

Pictured from left to right: Keith Borders, Union Savings Bank; Roy Hackworth, City of Cincinnati Department of Community & Economic Development; John Smit, Jr., Union Savings Bank; Catherine Walker, Third Federal; Darrick Dansby; Lem Davis, Union Savings Bank; Beth Robinson, Uptown Consortium, Inc.; Joyce Powdrill, Uptown Consortium, Inc.; Rick Williams, Home Ownership Center of Greater Cincinnati; Sonya Rose, Coldwell Banker (listing agent); Mark Dehler, Coldwell Baker (listing agent); Dan Reynolds, Third Federal; Morah Lynch, Cutler Real Estate; Scott Blomer, Huntington Bank; Robert Killins, Greater Cincinnati Foundation; Mark Carrol, US Bank; and Ray Cook, Realtor

Pictured from left to right: Keith Borders, Union Savings Bank; Roy Hackworth, City of Cincinnati Department of Community & Economic Development; John Smit, Jr., Union Savings Bank; Catherine Walker, Third Federal; Darrick Dansby; Lem Davis, Union Savings Bank; Beth Robinson, Uptown Consortium, Inc.; Joyce Powdrill, Uptown Consortium, Inc.; Rick Williams, Home Ownership Center of Greater Cincinnati; Sonya Rose, Coldwell Banker (listing agent); Mark Dehler, Coldwell Baker (listing agent); Dan Reynolds, Third Federal; Morah Lynch, Cutler Real Estate; Scott Blomer, Huntington Bank; Robert Killins, Greater Cincinnati Foundation; Mark Carrol, US Bank; and Ray Cook, Realtor

Beth Robinson, Uptown Consortium President and CEO, highlighted that the program will encourage individuals who were unable to keep their homes as a result of the housing crisis of 2008 to invest in the Uptown area.

Uptown Cincinnati is built on partnerships that move the needle. Uptown Consortium is grateful that the Homeownership Center of Greater Cincinnati understands the vast opportunities new residents have to connect with our five established Uptown neighborhoods, as well as the savvy neighbors who live here.
— Beth Robinson, Uptown Consortium President and CEO

President and CEO of The Home Ownership Center of Greater Cincinnati Rick Williams noted that home ownership will always be important to neighborhoods. The “Live Uptown” Down Payment Assistance Program connects new home buyers to five historic neighborhoods located near several great Cincinnati institutions that are some of the largest employers in the city.

The “Live Uptown” program is supported by four participating lenders: Huntington Bank, Third Federal Savings and Loan, Union Savings and US Bank.

To learn more information about the “Live Uptown” Down Payment Assistance Program, contact The Home Ownership Center at (513) 961-2800.

Down Payment assistance is a tremendous help to first-time home buyers taking advantage of Huntington’s Hometown Mortgage in conjunction with the Home Ownership Center of Greater Cincinnati. Just as we’ve seen with Huntington’s program that waives lender closing costs for people buying in select neighborhoods, this new program will go a long way in helping more families realize the dream of homeownership.
— Jay Plum, Huntington Bank
The number one reason people cite for not buying a home is lack of funds for down payment. We hope that this new program makes homes more affordable but also makes homeownership more accessible for people. We thank the Uptown Consortium’s forward thinking in developing this program for that purpose.
— John Smit, Jr., Union Savings Bank
Third Federal’s mission is to help people achieve the American dream of home ownership and financial security. Providing down payment assistance for eligible borrowers is an important step in making that dream a reality.
— Maria Thompson, Third Federal Bank