Why Does the Foundation Do Economic Development?

Why Does the Foundation Do Economic Development?

Why Does the Foundation Do Economic Development?

By Josh Gordon, Executive Director

In this continuing series on answering questions I get from community members about the Foundation I am finally able to address one of the most persistent questions I get – what is economic development, and why does the Foundation do it? 

Community foundations usually support local nonprofits to improve the lives of a community’s residents. That is certainly true of Barberton Community Foundation, only our mission extends support to the school district and City of Barberton, as well. All programs and initiatives we take on are designed to do the most positive for the most residents.  

The hard part is in answering this question: “Where should we focus?”  

Why? If you’re reading this, you know that our community is amazing! However, it isn’t perfect. (Yet!) 

There are questions we wrestle with in pursuit of doing the most positive for the most residents. Here are a few: 

How do we get more businesses to open and stay in Barberton? How can we help create more jobs, generating more income tax for the City? How can we make sure our neighborhoods are amazing for all residents? How can we make sure our graduates have opportunities for work and scholarships for college (if they are going)? How can we make sure every  child has a chance to go to preschool and get a head start on their academic life?  

These are just a few of the questions our highly accomplished – and 100% volunteer – board works on solutions for. 

Over the past decade, a consistent message from all board members in all strategic planning sessions is that we need more jobs and businesses in our community. Economic Development activities include work such as business retention programs, business attraction programs, land purchase, land development, land redevelopment, building purchase, building redevelopment, strategic planning, zoning, building public-private partnerships, and more. 

We are fortunate to have great partners in Mayor Judge and his office, Barberton’s Planning Commission, and more. But, the truth is, there is more work than all of us working together can accomplish. So we must divide and conquer, playing different, distinct roles so we can make progress.

3 Primary Ways the Foundation Helps with Economic Development  

#1 Helping Define an Economic Development Strategy  

One of my favorite quotes is “A problem well defined is a problem half-solved.” Charles Kettering – the head of research for General Motors from 1920 to 1947 said that.  

 It means that if we understand a problem completely – with data, opinion, thoughtful solution engineering, etc. – then we are better positioned to establish a permanent resolution.   

The Foundation helps to fund plans, works to create strategy, and learns what businesses need for support. Others in the community do as well. We compare notes and are working on establishing an “official” strategic plan for economic development that we can measure and show accomplishments from. Strategy must come first.  

#2 Convening Stakeholders 

That’s a pretty buzzword-filled subheading, huh? Essentially it means that when we need different organizations, officials, and experts to work together on a problem we are facing, they are usually willing to pick up the phone when the Foundation calls. We can convene them – get them in the same room – to discuss the challenges we are facing and help establish solutions. 

There are so many experts in specific areas – tax incentives, public-private partnerships, land acquisition, historic tax credits, commercial construction, commercial building redevelopment, etc. – that having all that knowledge in one person or entity just isn’t possible. It takes experts coming together around a problem to create progress. This is an area where the Foundation can really help.  

#3 Funding Solutions 

The Foundation provides grants and can make investments with our money. There are many, many rules for how we have to do that.  

We have more economic development needs and opportunities our community right now than we have funds. So, what can we do? 

We can fund targeted programs that help businesses. We fund programs that are executed in part by our wonderful partners at Barberton Community Development Corporation (BCDC).  

June 1 – June 30 business and building owners in Barberton can sign up for two amazing programs. Barberton Community Foundation is funding each at $100,000, with the goal of providing as many resources as possible to a business to help it grow and become more successful. It’s a reward for setting up shop in Barberton!  

The Economic Development Assistance Program (EDAP) is for established businesses that wish to expand their operation and must add jobs. They can apply for a grant through the Foundation, and approved concepts are passed along to BCDC for evaluation and “the green light” to begin.  

The Downtown Building Rehabilitation Program (DBRP) is for businesses in our downtown area that need grant money to improve their building or business. The money is only available for downtown businesses, because downtown is a very important part of the present and future success of our community.  

By backing economic development as a critical community initiative, and having an accomplished professional to help us run the programs such as our Director of Economic Development, Gil Gonzales, we are able to make progress on various economic development initiatives for our community.  

Focusing on developing Barberton’s economy – through the programs mentioned here and many more opportunities that are in motion (but early stage right now) – is a critical part of the Foundation’s work. We have a clear role to play, and we intend to play it well!  

Keep those questions coming! Economic Development is a vast and complex topic that will require more than this space to fully address. Look for more on this topic from the Foundation in the coming weeks and months!  

 

In Community,

Josh Gordon

Executive Director 

Barberton Community Foundation 

 

Program Announcement: Economic Development and Downtown Building Rehabilitation Program Applications Open

Program Announcement: Economic Development and Downtown Building Rehabilitation Program Applications Open

Program Announcement: Economic Development and Downtown Building Rehabilitation Program Applications Open

(May 30, 2024 – Barberton, Ohio) – Applications open June 1 for Barberton Community Foundation’s EDAP and DBRP funding.

The Economic Development Assistance Program (EDAP) and Downtown Building Rehabilitation Program (DBRP) are two of Barberton Community Foundation’s programs focused on supporting local business growth and developing a strong downtown. Beginning in 2022, the programs have awarded a combined $615,433 to 17 businesses and 12 building owners downtown.

The programs are run in partnership with Barberton Community Development Corporation (BCDC) and are reimbursement based.

Business or building owners interested in applying

The application period is open from June 1-30.

EDAP Highlights: This program focuses on promoting business expansion. Eligible businesses must be in Barberton or are moving to Barberton. Job creation is a required component of this application. Funding is used to upgrade equipment or machinery, support building improvements, site development, and infrastructure.

DBRP Highlights: This program focuses on improving buildings in historic downtown Barberton. Eligible buildings must be within the downtown footprint (map available on our website). Funding is used for interior rehab projects, window and door replacement or repair, roof repairs, structural systems, façade repairs, or for the purchase of equipment.

Full program details, including full eligibility and ineligible uses, can be found on the Foundation’s website. To start an application, create a login through the Foundation’s GOapply portal.

Call Gil Gonzales, director of economic development, with questions at 330-745-5995 or email ggonzales@barbertoncf.org.

Photo 1: Example of Economic Development Assistance Program (EDAP) –  In August, 2022, Big Mike’s Automotive purchased four scissor lifts with their funding and plans to hire four more technicians. (L-R) Michael and Felicia Cowans, with their daughters Lydia and Alexis, and VP John Prouty.

Photo 2: Example of Downtown Building Rehabilitation Program (DBRP) Beltline Hobbies, building owner Mark Kozarevich stands with his son Kyle Illingworth, owner of Beltline Hobbies. Mark’s family bought their building in 1937. He used the DBRP funding to repair the side of the wall, where brick work was crumbling.

Photo 3: Example of Downtown Building Rehabilitation Program (DBRP): Pregame Tavern, owned and operated by Chad Morrison Sr. and his son, Chad Morrison Jr. received funding through a downtown rehab grant for building improvements at 105 and 107 2nd St. NW including updating a bathroom and installing a patio.

Gil Gonzales Joins Barberton Community Foundation

Gil Gonzales Joins Barberton Community Foundation

Gil Gonzales Joins Barberton Community Foundation as New Director of Economic Development

Gonzales brings national and local expertise and resources to Barberton

May 28, 2024

Gil Gonzales - photo from the chest up in a gray suit jacket with the lake in the background.

Gil Gonzales serves as the Foundation’s new Director of Economic Development

Barberton Community Foundation is pleased to announce Gil Gonzales has joined the Foundation as its new Director of Economic Development. Gonzales brings a strong background in economic development and a deep commitment to supporting small businesses to his role, where he will lead and support initiatives to grow Barberton’s economic base and strengthen the community by leveraging the Foundation’s resources.

“We are thrilled to welcome Gil Gonzales to our team,” said Josh Gordon, Executive Director of Barberton Community Foundation. “His extensive background in economic development, combined with his passion for small business support, make him an exceptional fit for this role. We are confident that Gil’s broad experience, leadership, and tenacity will bring growth and opportunity to Barberton, enhancing our momentum.”

Born and raised in Fresno, California, Gonzales’ upbringing shaped his community-focused worldview. Raised by his grandparents, whose work ethic and community mindset made a lasting impact, Gonzales learned the importance of putting people first and striving to leave the world a better place. These values have driven his commitment to supporting and uplifting communities throughout his career.

After earning his degree in Political Studies and Media Studies from Pitzer College, Gonzales secured a fellowship with then-freshman Senator Bob Dutton, which connected him to his career in economic development as the Senior Director for the Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa. He gained valuable insights into how government supports business, helping to secure federal and state funding, and saw the role government can play in unlocking funds and opportunity for working people. 

From there, he served as the Vice President of Economic Development for the Arizona Commerce Authority, and then joined the then Governor office in California as an appointee in the Office of Economic and Business Development. In this role, he conducted large-scale negotiations for businesses, directed small business incentive assistance packages, and initiated a rural business outreach program. His work significantly contributed to economic growth and the support of small businesses across the state. Gonzales’ experience also includes building out the California Manufacturing Network and creating statewide programs for small manufacturers.

Most recently, Gonzales explored entrepreneurship, successfully securing $3 million venture capital backing and co-founding Subcity in 2021, a software platform that helps small manufacturing businesses access government tax credits, grants, and financing. Subcity helped companies obtain tens of millions in tax credits.

Gonzales moved to Ohio in 2022, following a job opportunity for his son’s mother, Kendra, as the head track and field coach for the University of Akron.

Regarding his new role, Gonzales said he sought the opportunity to work in Barberton because of the potential for growth and possibility he sees within the community.

“I always knew I wanted to get back into community service and economic development, with a focus on small business support, which is where my passion and heart is,” Gonzales said. “As a long-time economic developer, I am fortunate to be working in Barberton. This city is rich in American history, and full of hard-working people who love their hometown. We have the potential to show the rest of the nation what one small community can do together through collaboration, rolling up our sleeves and doing the hard work ahead.”  

In addition to managing the Newell Industrial site, Gonzales will take the lead on the Foundation’s upcoming economic development programs, including the Economic Development Assistance Program (EDAP) and the Downtown Rehabilitation Program (DRP). Applications for these programs can be completed by businesses and building owners beginning June 1- June 30. Gonzales will oversee the programs, and coordinate with the Foundation’s program partner, Barberton Community Development Corporation.

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About Barberton Community Foundation

Established in 1996, Barberton Community Foundation has awarded over 8,500 grants and scholarships totaling more than $109 million since its inception. The Foundation strives to improve, now and forever, the quality of life for Barberton residents by providing leadership on vital issues, fostering collaboration, and creating a legacy of giving to do good. The Foundation strengthens the community for current and future generations by proactively directing its grant dollars to the community’s greatest needs. To read more about Barberton Community Foundation visit www.barbertoncf.org or follow us on Facebook.

 

Barberton Community Foundation Receives Clean Audit, Opens Game Changer Nominations and Economic Development Funding at May Board Meeting

Barberton Community Foundation Receives Clean Audit, Opens Game Changer Nominations and Economic Development Funding at May Board Meeting

Barberton Community Foundation Receives Clean Audit, Opens Game Changer Nominations and Economic Development Funding at May Board Meeting

(May 20, 2024 Barberton, Ohio) –Barberton Community Foundation’s Board of Directors met for their regular meeting on Thursday, May 16, 2024.

The meeting opened with a “mission moment” from Barberton City Schools teacher Heather Miller and AMHA representative Valerie Bechtel. Mrs. Miller and Mrs. Bechtel shared how successful a tutoring program at Van Buren Homes has become. This program is a partnership between BCSD and AMHA to provide tutoring to students at the Van Buren Homes community center. Barberton Community Foundation has funded this program as a matching grant partner with the schools for the past two years. Mrs. Miller shared that since the program’s beginnings, it has expanded from 1 to 5 teachers on site, increased to 4 days a week, and teachers see an average of 25 kids from all different grades. The students are putting in the work, too. Mrs. Miller shared that one student was able to increase her math test scores by 20 percentage points since the start of the school year.

Another key outcome is that, while the program began as an outreach initiative to AMHA families, it has become successful enough that parents from around the city are taking their kids to Van Buren Homes for tutoring. Miller said they abide by five core tenants for the program. “We provide a safe space to work, a quiet space to work,” Miller said. “We provide help. We are a continuation of their school day, and we promote a culture of learning and inclusiveness.”

The Foundation’s grant approval in February secures funding for this program through the 2024-2025 school year.

Finance

Tiffany Peters, Director of Finance reported the Foundation has received a clean audit with an unmodified opinion for the 2023 fiscal year. The board unanimously approved the Foundation’s 2023 Audited Financial Statements. Josh Gordon, Executive Director, said,

Governance

The board approved a motion to bring Brad Angeloff onto the board, pending Barberton City Council approval. Angeloff is a lifelong Barberton resident and has a strong financial background, especially in banking and economic development projects, a key focus for the Foundation. “We think he’ll make a great addition to the board,” said Gordon. “We look forward to being in a position to add his talent and expertise to our board.”

Economic Development

The Board continues to focus on initiatives benefiting downtown and economic development in Barberton. Along with Main Street Barberton funding, Newell Street Industrial Park, and Program Related Investments, the Foundation funds two programs aimed at business and building owners. The Economic Development Assistance Program (EDAP) and Downtown Rehabilitation Program (DRP) applications are open June 1-30.

Game Changers

The Board’s Development Committee is seeking nominations for the 2024 Game Changer Award. This award recognizes an individual and an organization or business that has made a positive impact on the community. Details and nominations are open now until June 10. Game Changers are recognized at the Foundation’s Annual Dinner Celebration on November 7. Make your nomination today!

Other Business

Peters announced the launch of GOfund, a new portal where donors and fund representatives can log in to an account and see fund activity, donation history, investment returns, and spendable amounts of the fund. “Adding GOfund to accommodate our donors is a significant advancement for the Foundation and our focus on technology that provides transparency and clarity for donors and fund representatives,” Gordon said.

The Health and Wellness grant cycle applications are due Monday, June 3. Grant partners should submit an LOI and complete an application in the GOapply portal. Contact Barberton Community Foundation at 330-745-5995 with questions.

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About Barberton Community Foundation

Established in 1996, Barberton Community Foundation has awarded over 8,500 grants and scholarships totaling more than $109 million since its inception. The Foundation strives to improve, now and forever, the quality of life for Barberton residents by providing leadership on vital issues, fostering collaboration, and creating a legacy of giving to do good. The Foundation strengthens the community for current and future generations by proactively directing its grant dollars to the community’s greatest needs. To read more about Barberton Community Foundation visit www.barbertoncf.org or follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/barbertoncommunityfoundation.

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Barberton Community Foundation Receives Clean Audit, Opens Game Changer Nominations and Economic Development Funding at May Board Meeting

Eras, Barberton Community Foundation Edition

What does the Foundation have to do with a Children’s Book?

By Josh Gordon, Executive Director

Another question I get a lot right now is about the Foundation’s endowment – our Main Fund, or the “tree” in The Giving Tree analogy I used in my last column. How big is it, how much can we spend (not as much as you think), etc.

I’m still new in my leadership role at the Foundation, so I love to hear these questions. I also love to research and work on how to answer them well. Part of my initial work overall is to analyze the Foundation, its history and future.

What I discovered is that understanding the Main Fund is the same as understanding the Foundation itself.

The best way to understand most things is to put numbers to them. Since the Main Fund is – by law – to last “in perpetuity,” a timeline seemed like a smart starting point. Rather than generate a timeline designed to capture the past and the unknown of “forever” I chose to focus on what’s happened so far, and what the next 2 stages of the Foundation are.

While still a young 27 years old, Barberton Community Foundation has experienced two clear “eras” so far – an era being a period of history with a particular feature or characteristic.  

Start Up Era

Like anything new, there is always a “start-up” era. The Foundation’s Start Up Era was 1996 – 1999. This era was defined by determining the first board of directors, trying to find a leader and staff, finding a building, and more. It is hard to start up any type of organization as there is a great deal to coordinate. Having been part of 2 start-up organizations, I can vouch for the long hours and grit needed to solve surprise challenges. In addition to typical start-up challenges, determining how to fulfill the initial promises of the Foundation (building a new high school, creating an Active Adult Center) were also mapped out in this era.

Spending Era

The next era in our timeline is the Spending Era, from 2000 (post-Start Up Era) to now, ending this year. The Spending Era is defined by literally paying for the promises that were made to create the Foundation – including the grand total of $58M for the new Barberton High School and $4.7M for the Active Adult Center. A small sample of some additional projects include Foundation Fields, the YMCA, the Barberton Sports Complex, over $2M in grants to Barberton Parks and Recreation, and more. Plus, the Foundation provides funding for a total of 36 scholarships now, most of which are multi-year awards. This is all work the Foundation has done, not even including the funds and scholarships that donors have set up to help with other Foundation-aligned, community-specific needs.

In total, the Foundation has 116 total funds currently and has granted $109M+ since the beginning – so far.

All of that is “part 1” of the Spending Era. Part 2 is about establishing stricter spending constraints.

You may be wondering “why would there be any constraints on spending?”

Because the tough truth is, while all of the spending was worthwhile, it was also very hard to accomplish. The Foundation is not a bottomless pit of money, forever! Though, I’m sure we’d all agree that would be nice. By law the Foundation must have an impact in Barberton “in perpetuity” – meaning, forever.

The result of the Spending Era is the Foundation maximized what was possible to spend on a variety of amazing projects – the tradeoff was not saving any money to build our Main Fund for big, future projects.

The consequence of the Spending Era is the Foundation must spend years building our main endowment back up. And until it is built up, the Board will face hard choices about which projects it is able to support in the community.

What does that mean for the future of the Foundation?

I envision two new eras on the horizon.

The second era is exciting – the Transformational Impact Era! What does that mean? It means this era will have the Foundation positioned to put as much as $7M into the community every single year! That amount of money to grant exclusively in Barberton means we can transform our community in big and exciting ways.

It means it is possible to take on large projects again, to transform what is possible with scholarships (imagine full tuition scholarships!), help the business community (through our partnerships) so businesses can easily expand and grow, support the incredible work of our school district in workforce development, attract more amazing businesses to town, and more. I’m personally excited for the day when these ideas can be the basis of strategic planning. 

To have that much money available to grant and invest in the community, our Main Fund would need to be around $250M. This is the price of becoming transformational.

As of Q1 2024, we are only at $94M. We can only spend a small percent of that.

Based on the numbers, it is clear that we aren’t ready for the Transformational Impact Era to begin. We need to prepare for it.

That means our next era is the Build Up Era. To be in a position to be transformational, we need to build our Main Fund up to the level required to do that job. There is still money to grant, scholarships to be handed out, and plenty of good to be done. We will deliver as much as we can.

We must also understand that the Build Up Era will be defined by doing as much as we can, which may not be as much as everyone hopes for. We may face some hard, unpopular choices.

The possible criticism is worthwhile to endure if transformational impact is possible on the other side. It will take discipline, grit, and creativity to ensure that the Foundation continues to make a difference in the lives of our residents now, and forever. It is a challenge. But our team, and our board, is ready.

Please keep these questions coming to me! Or tell me what transformational projects you’re excited about – I’m keeping a list. Email me at jgordon@barbertoncf.org.

In Community,  

Josh Gordon 

Executive Director 

Barberton Community Foundation