Port of Cleveland’s Community Investment Fund to Provide Support to Economically Vulnerable Neighborhoods

Cleveland, Ohio (November 18, 2020)The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority (Port of Cleveland) announced the launch of a Community Investment Fund (CIF) dedicated to economically vulnerable neighborhoods and their residents. The Port’s CIF will make grants to aid Cuyahoga County based nonprofit programs and organizations focused on workforce development, economic development, and community improvement / quality of life issues.

“The Port’s Community Investment Fund will help ensure that our agency’s traditional economic development and finance work provides equitable benefit throughout Cuyahoga County,” said Will Friedman, the Port’s President and CEO. “Our goal with the CIF is to leverage our resources and connect chronically disadvantaged neighborhoods and communities to greater opportunity.”

To fund the CIF, the Port Authority Board of Directors agreed to dedicate 10% of the fees generated each year by development finance projects to CIF grants. The Port’s traditional development finance work leverages its bonding capacity, tax-favorable status, and structured leasing to finance development projects and related infrastructure at more competitive rates.

“The Port’s Board of Directors know that our traditional development finance tools have had huge success generating development at scale, but we also need to play a role supporting community development efforts at the neighborhood level, many of which are not positioned to tap into our development finance tools,” said Darrell McNair, Chair of the Port’s Board of Directors CIF Committee. “These neighborhoods are full of opportunity, but face greater difficulty in attracting private capital, meeting underwriting standards, and capitalizing on momentum.”

To guide the grantmaking process, the Port’s board established a CIF committee that evaluated potential grantees based on amount of need, deliverables from the grant funds requested, and potential measurable impact. Based on the committee’s recommendation, the Port’s Board of Directors has approved grants of $50,000 to Phastar/Benjamin O. Davis Aviation and Maritime High School for its maritime and waterfront education programs and $100,000 to Neighborhood Connections to provide matching grants in Cleveland & inner-ring suburbs.

“The Port is thrilled to make these grants to Benjamin O. Davis Aviation High School and Neighborhood Connections,” said Margot Copeland, a member of the Port Board and the CIF committee. “The CIF is our way of making sure the Port is investing in economic development at all levels in the County, and we believe this first round of grants is an excellent way to launch the program.”