On the Road (to Ohio) with the Power of 32 Site Development Fund

by on October 11, 2017

The Power of 32 Site Development Fund, one of important tools in the economic development toolkit for the greater Pittsburgh region, is hitting the road and heading to Youngstown, Ohio, on Thursday, Oct. 12.  A “Meet the Power of 32 Site Development Fund Team” event will be held at Youngstown State University, beginning at 9:30 a.m.  This event is being presented in cooperation with NEO Development and Finance Authority and The Business Journal of Youngstown.  More than 60 people are already registered to attend this meet-and-greet. 

Here’s a quick Q&A with Phil Cynar, senior communications specialist at the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and the communications lead for the Site Fund on why the team is heading west.

What do you expect to accomplish at this event?

We’re heading west to neighboring Ohio to introduce the Pittsburgh-based Power of 32 Site Development Fund and its team to economic developers, land owners, the industrial and commercial real estate community, elected officials and other key individuals who have a role in making or shaping business investment decisions in Ohio, specifically in Mahoning and Columbiana counties, as well as the counties of Belmont, Jefferson and Monroe*.  While Pittsburgh-based, the Power of 32 Site Development Fund is a financing resource, in support of economic development, in four states (Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia) and 32 counties.  Some people call this footprint the “Steelers Nation,” but it’s a lot more than black and gold. When these 32 counties operate as one economic region at the heart of America’s industrial heartland, there’s a power there that is pretty impressive, plus a lot of potential.  This potential has benefits and advantages that don’t stop at state borders.

We want to raise awareness of the Site Development Fund in Northeast Ohio as early-stage financing to get projects with very real potential across the starting line, particularly brownfields.  The fund can get these sites into the game, and then traditional lenders can step in to get such projects over the finish line.  Given the greater region’s industrial past, there are a lot of brownfield sites that, with remediation and the necessary horizontal construction in place (utilities, access roads, grading, and such), can be moved to market for vertical, brick-and-mortar development.


Why attend this event?/Why is this event in Youngstown important?

Our greater region needs to increase its inventory of shovel-ready sites.  Lack of supply is the number one reason we lose deals to other regions.  That’s a situation we can do something about.  The fund is one response to that situation; it’s one viable means to moving sites with great potential closer to market, which is a win-win-win … for the greater region … for the site owners and developers … for companies who want to put down roots in our greater region and create jobs and opportunity.

This event is a meet-and-greet – a chance to learn about the fund in a face-to-face way.  It’s a chance to learn about a financing option that might not be on people’s radars, and it will be a time to get answers to questions.


How can the Power of 32 Site Development Fund have a positive impact on Mahoning and Columbiana Counties?

If interested land owners and developers apply for loans, the Site Fund board will give each application serious consideration.  There is the possibility that a loan will be made that will propel a key site in Northeast Ohio toward fresh opportunity as a critical part of the greater region’s inventory of shovel-ready sites … sites that are ready-to-go when a company makes the decision that it wants to establish a presence here or expand an existing presence.


Are there any projects in Ohio that are set to be sponsored by Power 32 yet?

No loans, to date, have been made in Ohio.  To date the fund, which has a total of $49 million to invest, has made loans of nearly $25 million.  The fund has more money to invest, and we want to make more strategically impactful loans.  We hope our visit to Youngstown will result in loan to move an impactful project there forward.

*Projects that the Site Development Fund can invest in in Ohio must be located in these counties.