Good Morning Santa Paula: CEO Conk updates chamber on CEDC

August 24, 2012
Santa Paula News

Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation’s new executive director spoke at the August Good Morning Santa Paula, telling the group how affordable housing not only benefits the household but also the whole community.

Nancy Conk, who joined CEDC in January, spoke at the Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting held at Garman’s Irish Pub & Restaurant.

She noted the first corporation ever formed was a nonprofit established in 1650. A group of Massachusetts’ family business owners conceived “of the corporate structure, identified the lack of a skilled, educated workforce as a hindrance to the growth of their businesses,” and their solution was to create an enterprise that would require investment but no returns. The corporation would hold the assets of this newly formed corporation in perpetuity, and the return on their investment would be the “community and business benefit of an educated workforce.”

Conk said the Harvard Corporation marked the founding of Harvard College in Boston. “And today, we are all here - family business owners and employees of for-profit and non-profit corporations,” each in some basic way the “beneficiary of the vision and investment of those family business owners who were the founders of the Harvard Corporation.”

Conk said that history is still relevant, and “I think particularly relevant in looking at the role that CEDC plays here in Santa Paula and throughout Ventura County.”

Although a nonprofit, Harvard was not established as a charity but rather an investment that would benefit the founders’ businesses as well as the community at large. “CEDC most certainly has as a primary mission to house those who are economically disadvantaged,” but, Conk said, “it is also a non-profit that generates financial benefit to the broader community.”

Last year, at CEDC’s request, California Lutheran University’s Center for Economic Research & Forecasting prepared an assessment of CEDC’s economic impact on Ventura County as a whole and on each of the cities where it has developed housing. Conk said the study showed that on an annual basis in Ventura County, CEDC generates approximately $14 million in economic output and supports 60 jobs in addition to CEDC staff.

In 2011, an additional $124 million in economic output and 780 more jobs were created because of new construction of CEDC housing in Santa Paula, Oxnard, Ventura and Piru. In Santa Paula the annual economic output is $1.2 million and five jobs; in 2011 new CEDC construction in the city was $33 million creating 195 jobs. 

“CEDC is able to generate this benefit by leveraging public investment with private bank financing and corporate equity investment through the sale of Low Income Housing Tax Credits” that Conk said brings new investment funds into Ventura County and the cities in which CEDC develops. The leverage of the approximately $425,000 housing grant received from the city for the development of what became Rodney Fernandez Gardens was $82 for every dollar invested with the city grant.

“CEDC invests in communities and provides services to low-income residents through multiple lines of business,” ranging from new housing development and construction - CEDC is its own general contractor and hires local sub-contractors - and property management to mortgage lending and homeownership and foreclosure counseling. Conk said CEDC has also launched its REO acquisition and rehab program that provides purchase opportunities to qualified, low-income homebuyers. Cabrillo is also starting a small business-lending program. 

“Finally, another of our programs is our Community Building initiative” to assist residents of CEDC properties in “improving the quality of life of their families and the members of their communities.... For example,” six youths from Santa Paula’s CEDC Vista Hermosa community and their resident manager “will participate in a national leadership training institute.” 

Other youth at Rodney Fernandez Gardens receive free guitar lessons “provided by local guitar virtuoso Xavier Montes, and residents at the same property are maintaining a beautiful community garden, which benefits everyone who lives there.” Conk said this year CEDC launched its Rodney Fernandez Gardens Community Building Fund, which awarded five scholarships to CEDC student residents.

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