Duke Energy awards more than $200,000 to Greater Cincinnati ventures that aim to spark redevelopment, help small businesses

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  • Urban Revitalization program focused on eliminating blight, creating jobs through redevelopment, restoration of urban properties.

  • 2020 grants also provide support, assistance to small businesses impacted by COVID-19.

  • More than $2.6 million in grants awarded to 83 Greater Cincinnati projects since program’s 2011 launch.

Editor’s note: Click media kit to view and download related video clips and photos.

CINCINNATI – Duke Energy today announced the recipients of its 2020 Urban Revitalization grants, which deliver $213,500 to eight redevelopment and small business assistance programs across southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky.

This is the 10th iteration of the company’s Urban Revitalization grants. Since launching the program in 2011, Duke Energy has awarded more than $2.6 million to 83 grantees across Greater Cincinnati.

“It’s exciting and gratifying to see how these grants have spurred development and lasting change along dozens of ‘Main Streets’ across southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky over the past 10 years,” said Amy Spiller, president of Duke Energy Ohio/Kentucky. “These urban cores are transforming into vibrant and entrepreneurial hubs with beautifully restored buildings, dynamic businesses and a diversity of new jobs.”

Video – Amy Spiller speaks about Urban Revitalization grant program

On top of funding redevelopment projects in urban areas outside of Cincinnati’s central business district, this year’s Urban Revitalization grants also provide support to entrepreneurs and small businesses that continue to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Duke Energy grant really uplifts and injects life into our project and inspires hope around what we can bring to the West End community amidst a health and racial pandemic,” said Toilynn O’Neal Turner, founding director of the Robert O’Neal Multicultural Arts Center, which was awarded $100,000 as part of this year’s Urban Revitalization grants.

“The reality is every dollar makes a significant impact,” said O’Neal Turner. “And the initial dollars, for things like our architect and our surveyors and to develop our marketing strategy, these dollars are crucial for us to see the vision of this project coming to life.

“It’s been a wonderful experience to keep moving forward at a time when many of us are really trying to evaluate and address how we’re going to move forward collectively.”

Video – Toilynn O’Neal Turner speaks about impact of Urban Revitalization grant

Duke Energy, through the Duke Energy Foundation, provided more than $2 million in grants across Greater Cincinnati communities in 2020. This includes nearly $300,000 for pandemic-related causes like hunger relief and elder care, supplies for front-line workers, and grants to struggling small businesses owned by women, veterans and minorities.

Grants provide gap funding, catalysts for further economic development

The vision for the Urban Revitalization grant program emerged during and after the Great Recession. That’s when Duke Energy leaders learned that nontraditional developers like community groups, small business owners and entrepreneurs were interested in giving new life to historic, yet blighted and neglected, buildings that once served as the epicenters of communities and neighborhoods. However, these visionaries experienced difficulties getting these projects off the ground.

“Plans to restore a 100-year-old structure from top to bottom oftentimes cannot move forward due to small, but critical, upfront costs, like the development of detailed architectural and engineering plans,” said Spiller. “This is where the Urban Revitalization grants prove invaluable.

“While our funding is modest in comparison to the costs to redevelop or revamp a property, these catalyst grants are vital for individuals and organizations to obtain the necessary credentials for seeking and securing permits, additional grants and traditional financing for construction.”

Photos – Urban Revitalizations grantees, past and present

2020 Urban Revitalization grantees

The following Greater Cincinnati projects were awarded grants today:

Catalytic Development Funding Corp. of Northern Kentucky

  • $10,000 for 722 Scott St. in Covington, Ky.

The redevelopment of the former NorthKey Community Care building will create 11,600 square feet of high-quality and desirable office space. Future tenants will value the building’s location, which is one block west of Covington’s vibrant Madison Avenue commercial corridor and 1 mile south of downtown Cincinnati, as well as its 40-space, on-site parking lot. The Urban Revitalization grant will be put toward architectural and engineering drawings, as well as other predevelopment costs required to qualify for historic tax credits. Experts believe this project could serve as a catalyst for the redevelopment of at least three neighboring properties along Scott Street.

Catalytic Development Funding Corp. of Northern Kentucky

  • $15,000 for 471 Elm St. in Ludlow, Ky.

Kate Standfest owns and operates North South Baking Co. and sells her delicious baked goods at events, cafes and coffee shops across the region. Soon she’ll be able to expand her operations and create jobs – all while giving new life to a vacant, 90-year-old structure in the heart of Ludlow. Standfest is working with the Catalytic Fund to transform the building at 471 Elm St. into a commercial baking kitchen that will serve North South Baking’s existing wholesale customers as well as offer an on-site retail area. The Duke Energy grant will be used for architectural design and engineering services related to the transformation of the 3,000-square-foot building, which originally housed an automobile filling and service station.

Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington

  • $11,000 for COVID support of culinary businesses and commercial bakery retail space.

The Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington will use its Urban Revitalization grant for two purposes. First, the funding will allow the organization to offer virtual support to local chefs, many of whom completed the Chef Fellowship program. The fellowship program was launched in 2016 to support local residents who are passionate about sharing their food creations but lack the money, language, connections and more to make their dreams come to life. The virtual support will help these individuals and other food entrepreneurs navigate the realities of operating food-based businesses during the pandemic.

The second focus of the Duke Energy grant is predevelopment work associated with the creation of a shared retail and commercial bakery retail space along Covington’s Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. commercial corridor. This future community asset will serve the broader neighborhood and provide an affordable space for local bakers looking to start their own businesses.

Avondale Development Corp.

  • $25,000 for Avondale Leadership Development Center of Excellence.

The planned Avondale Leadership Development Center of Excellence will be a high-tech, multipurpose education and training facility serving as a hub for community members and the growth of next-generation leaders. Avondale Development Corp. will use its grant money for a variety of predevelopment work associated with transforming the 1.2 acres of vacant land in the heart of the Avondale community.

Among other amenities, the Avondale Leadership Development Center of Excellence will offer affordable office space for local small businesses; multipurpose space for community events, programs and groups; a 400-seat auditorium for major community forums and meetings of nonprofit organizations; and an industrial kitchen that will serve as a soup kitchen for community members, as well as a facility for restaurateurs.

College Hill Community Urban Redevelopment Corp.

  • $20,000 for Ruth Ellen Building.

Just a stone’s throw from recent Urban Revitalization grantees Tortilleria Garcia and Kiki, the Ruth Ellen Building at 5904 Hamilton Ave. in College Hill’s mid-business district is primed for a new beginning. The College Hill Community Urban Redevelopment Corp. was awarded a grant to begin restoring the building’s historic integrity including the removal of a deteriorating facade that was added about 60 years ago.

The grant dollars will be put toward developing architecture and construction drawings, both of which will qualify the project for the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program – a requisite to ensure the project’s short- and long-term viability. Once the Ruth Ellen Building is restored, it will feature 11 housing units capable of housing more than 20 residents who will add to the liveliness and strength of the College Hill community.

Hamilton County Development Corp.

  • $25,000 for COVID-19 Small Business Assistance Program.

The Hamilton County Development Corp. will apply its Duke Energy grant dollars toward the creation of an assistance program that aims to help small businesses, especially those owned or led by minorities and women, that have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This support includes helping businesses navigate the various state and local programs and relief packages available; guidance related to cash flow, staffing, marketing, accounting, supply chain and more; and expert advice on planning for the post-pandemic recovery period and the expected longer-term shift in consumer behaviors.

Mt. Airy Community Urban Redevelopment Enterprise (CURE)

  • $7,500 for business district renderings.

The Mt. Airy CURE is in the midst of facilitating the revitalization of the Mt. Airy business district and surrounding neighborhood, which is located in and around Colerain Avenue in northwest Cincinnati. The organization will use its grant to create conceptual renderings of its business district and commercial properties that will be used to build interest and grow momentum among developers, businesses looking to set up shop in the area and other stakeholders.

Robert O’Neal Multicultural Arts Center

  • $100,000 for architectural and engineering for West End center.

Cincinnati’s West End neighborhood has a rich history, and Toilynn O’Neal Turner intends to preserve and build upon it with the creation of the Robert O’Neal Multicultural Arts Center. Named for Toilynn’s father, a famed Cincinnati artist and civic activist who passed away in 2018, the center will be a modern, professional-grade facility that will celebrate the works of local African American and multicultural artists. It will also serve as a multipurpose hub that houses a marketing agency, co-working studios for creatives of color, and street-level retail and event space that will host national and local performances, conferences and meetings.

The grant will fund complex architectural and engineering plans for the complete restoration and expansion of a historic, yet vacant and dilapidated, West End property that will be home to the Robert O’Neal Multicultural Arts Center. The award will also be put toward the creation of renderings and other graphics and presentation materials to support the center’s ongoing marketing and fundraising efforts.

Duke Energy Ohio/Kentucky

Duke Energy Ohio/Kentucky, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, provides electric service to about 870,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in a 3,000-square-mile service area, and natural gas service to approximately 542,000 customers.

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of the largest energy holding companies in the U.S. It employs 30,000 people and has an electric generating capacity of 51,000 megawatts through its regulated utilities, and 3,000 megawatts through its nonregulated Duke Energy Renewables unit.

Duke Energy is transforming its customers’ experience, modernizing the energy grid, generating cleaner energy and expanding natural gas infrastructure to create a smarter energy future for the people and communities it serves. The Electric Utilities and Infrastructure unit’s regulated utilities serve approximately 7.7 million retail electric customers in six states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. The Gas Utilities and Infrastructure unit distributes natural gas to more than 1.6 million customers in five states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The Duke Energy Renewables unit operates wind and solar generation facilities across the U.S., as well as energy storage and microgrid projects.

Duke Energy was named to Fortune’s 2020 “World’s Most Admired Companies” list, and Forbes’ 2019 “America’s Best Employers” list. More information about the company is available at duke-energy.com. The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos, videos and other materials. Duke Energy’s illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues. Follow Duke Energy on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.

Media contact: Lee Freedman