CH City Council votes to form CDC working group
At its July 31 meeting, Cleveland Heights City Council declared its intent to partner with FutureHeights as the city’s community development corporation (CDC) and authorized the city manager to form a working group to flesh out the details. The resolution passed 4-1, with Council Member Kahlil Seren casting the dissenting vote. Council Members Michael Ungar and Jason Stein were absent.
The legislation will take effect Sept. 4, when council returns from its summer recess. City Manager Tanisha Briley will create a nine-member working group that will have three city staff representatives, three FutureHeights representatives, and three members of the community at large. The group will discuss goals and priorities, governance, funding sources and other topics to help guide the CDC and determine the roles of the CDC and city staff.
FutureHeights, a nonprofit community development group that has served the city for 15 years, became a member of the Ohio CDC Association in April 2017—a formal recognition that its activities are those of a CDC. In August 2016, at the mayor’s request, FutureHeights submitted a business plan to the city, outlining a potential partnership in which it would be the city’s CDC.
Both the city’s master plan, adopted in March, and the council-appointed Economic Development Advisory Committee recommended that the city work with a CDC and mentioned FutureHeights as the logical choice.
At city council’s July 24 Council Committee of the Whole meeting, Anne Jordan of Enterprise Community Partners presented a report outlining the “current capacity and need for housing and community development activities in the city, as well as possible alignment with activities that a community development corporation (CDC) or similar entity could undertake.” City Manager Tanisha Briley had contracted with Enterprise to undertake the study in January through the city’s affiliation with the National Resource Network.
On July 24, CH City Council agreed to draft legislation enabling City Manager Tanisha Briley to create a letter of intent (LOI) to form a partnership with FutureHeights. Council members also suggested that the city manager form a working group to consider the many questions they had about the details of the partnership.
Council Member Kahlil Seren voted no on the July 31 resolution, not because he opposed working with FutureHeights as the city’s CDC, but because he thought the legislation was unnecessary. “I believe that the city manager is fully empowered to form a working group all by herself, and provide recommendations to council from that working group without our authorization,” said Seren.
Deanna Bremer Fisher
Deanna Bremer Fisher is executive director of FutureHeights and publisher of the Heights Observer.