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Development Efforts in NKY River Cities Just Got a Huge Boost

A big boost to development in Covington, Newport, Ludlow, Bellevue, and Dayton is coming in the form of a large contribution from the United States Department of the Treasury's Community Development Financing Institution (CDFI) Program.

The Catalytic Fund, the organization intimately involved in many of the important projects in the River Cities like The Hotel Covington and the Marianne Theater, received a $700,000 grant from the program.

It was one of only three in Kentucky and 123 across the country to receive such funds.

This investment is also the first milestone met in the myNKY Plan, which calls for leveraging predevelopment funding opportunities to accelerate redevelopment in the urban core. 
 
Specifically, $500,000 will be used as seed money for a $2 million Pre-Development Fund. Currently, the Catalytic Fund makes loans to real estate projects from a $10 million loan fund, but a pre-development fund will be a new tool that can be used for site readiness: studies, plans, acquisitions and/or investments to make projects feasible. “This will significantly increase our capacity to execute high impact, quality real estate transactions in our NKY River Cities because a major impediment to urban redevelopment is site readiness,” said Jeanne Schroer, the Catalytic Fund's president/CEO. 
 
A $2 Million Pre-Development Fund was considered so essential to Northern Kentucky’s urban revitalization that this concept, driven by the Catalytic Fund, was supported and called out by local leaders in the myNKY Five-Year regional workplan that is overseen by Skyward (formerly Vision 2015) as a tactic toward the Northern Kentucky region’s Community Vibrancy.  
 
“The myNKY Plan calls for Northern Kentucky to be an intentionally inclusive, creative, and connected community," Schroer said. “The Catalytic Fund’s work encourages redevelopment and adaptive reuse of Northern Kentucky’s urban spaces – which supports national trends showing walkable, diverse, creative communities are the kind of environment where both the millennial generation and empty nesters want to live. The Pre-Development Fund is the next level of resources that we need to support these urban projects that are in high demand, but have barriers that otherwise would be very challenging to overcome.” 
 
This isn’t the first time that urban revitalization has been a regional goal for Northern Kentucky, or that Catalytic Fund leaders have risen to a regional challenge. The Vision 2015 Plan called for creation of a catalytic development corporation to stimulate redevelopment of the urban areas; leading to the Catalytic Fund’s founding in 2008, successful fund capitalization in 2013, and total lending to-date of more than $1.7 million.
 
“The Catalytic Fund has provided the capital and the leadership needed to undertake the complex, time consuming and often expensive development projects needed for comprehensive urban revitalization to take hold,” Skyward President Bill Scheyer said. “We congratulate the Catalytic Fund on their success toward building the Pre-Development Fund, a critical component of the myNKY Plan’s Vibrancy goal."
 
The Catalytic Fund was recently certified as Community Development Financing Institution (CDFI) earlier 2015, which makes it eligible to apply for funding through the CDFI Fund. Not only was The Catalytic Fund one of only three CDFIs in the country to receive a first-time award this year, but the organization also received its maximum eligible allocation of $700,000 in its category “Small and Emerging CDFI Assistance (SECA)".
 
CDFI certification is a rigorous process designed to select only organizations with a community development-based mission that expands economic activity and opportunity. 
 
The Catalytic Fund addresses the need for patient capital to support construction and/or rehabilitation of market rate housing and mixed-use real estate projects that are essential to urban revitalization. 
 
The Catalytic Fund has been in the news recently for a number of its projects, including loans and investments in projects such as the Mutual Building, Hotel Covington, Pike Star (home to UpTech) and programs like the urban living tour series, Beyond the Curb.  
 
To see elements of the Catalytic Fund target investment area for yourself, attend Beyond the Curb in Newport on September 27th, learn more at www.beyondthecurb.org.
 
-Staff report