Nine communities across seven states will chart a bold new economic mobility course with the support of the three-year $180 million Fifth Third Neighborhood Investment Program.
Fifth Third launched the program this spring, selecting Enterprise Community Partners to co-lead and manage the place-based initiative.
Fifth Third will commit up to $20 million in lending, investments and philanthropy to each of the nine neighborhoods with a goal to spur growth and opportunities. The funds represent a mix of capital, products and services, along with grants from the Fifth Third Foundation, to be invested in small business, mortgage and neighborhood revitalization loans and investments.
“Studies have shown, time and time again, that neighborhood-based investments can become real springboards for economic mobility for residents, business owners and commercial corridors. And that’s exactly what this program is designed to do,” said Fifth Third Chief Corporate Community and Economic Development Officer Jada Grandy-Mock.
Fifth Third and Enterprise co-led the invitation-only application process to select nine majority-Black neighborhoods in the bank’s footprint that have experienced disinvestment and social and economic disparities due to structural racism. The neighborhoods were invited to apply based on key criteria. They included the existence of cross-sector partnerships and civic infrastructure, and the ability to support equitable investment and wealth-building opportunities.
Each neighborhood will receive technical assistance from Enterprise’s advisory and programmatic teams as they develop and implement an economic mobility plan over the program’s three years that is designed to meet their community-informed vision for the future. Enterprise will also spearhead a peer learning network, offering the nine organizations and their partners a robust cohort experience.
The Nine Neighborhoods – and the Organizations Leading Them
Each of the nine selected neighborhoods is represented by a backbone organization with a track record of partnering with residents as key stakeholders toward systems-level change.
- Arlington Woods, Indianapolis – JEWEL Human Services: A new education center serving youth in grades seven to 12 is the centerpiece of a comprehensive plan that also includes housing and green space development.
- Avondale, Cincinnati – Avondale Development Corporation: Neighborhood leaders are carrying out a multifaceted plan to improve housing, expand homeownership and support small business development for Black entrepreneurs.
- Buckeye, Cleveland – Cleveland Neighborhood Progress: Home repair and support for new homeowners aims to promote wealth building and prevent displacement of long-term residents.
- East Tampa, Tampa – Corporation to Develop Communities of Tampa: The Nehemiah Legacy Project seeks to create a tipping point for economic equity across housing, business and workforce development.
- Grove Park, Atlanta – Grove Park Foundation: Amid intense development pressures, the neighborhood will expand its plan to increase access to affordable homes and promote local Black-owned businesses.
- Historic West End, Charlotte – LISC-Charlotte: Home-repair, small business and other key strategies will ensure the neighborhood’s current wave of development benefits long-term residents.
- Near East Side, Columbus – PACT (Partners Achieving Community Transformation): Building on a decade of success, the neighborhood will pursue an initiative called Delivering Black Dreams that includes the creation of an economic impact corridor.
- Russell, Louisville – Russell: A Place of Promise: A home-buyers club is one aspect of a multistakeholder effort dedicated to advancing economic justice.
- South Chicago, Chicago – Claretian Associates: The neighborhood’s comprehensive plan envisions the transformation of 700 acres of vacant and undeveloped lakefront real estate.
The Fifth Third Neighborhood Investment Program will allow Claretian Associates and its partners to close their funding gap and realize an ambitious neighborhood redevelopment plan called, “We’re STEEL Here: Working Together to Reinvigorate South Chicago.”
The plan’s name captures the economic devastation caused by the closing of the South Works steel mill in 1992 that was pivotal to turning a once-thriving neighborhood into a forgotten community. “We’re STEEL Here” sets South Chicago on a new course of prosperity and well-being with the proposed development of affordable homes, local businesses, and green and recreational spaces.
In Cincinnati, the Fifth Third Neighborhood Investment Program will allow the Avondale community – where many residents can trace their Avondale lines back to generations – to mobilize two neighborhood planning initiatives. Their comprehensive plan aims to support the next generation of homeowners, improve the housing stock, develop small businesses and catalyze a 65-acre technology and innovation corridor.
“This program allows us to keep faith and hope in our direction – and to move toward implementation as we come together to grow Avondale,” said Avondale Development Corporation Executive Director Russell Hairston.
“Delivering Black Dreams”
Many of the nine neighborhoods were once thriving enclaves with cultural, educational and commercial assets that gave rise to accomplished artists, scientists and civil rights leaders.
But decades of disinvestment brought by redlining, neighborhood-destroying freeway construction and other forms of structural racism and discriminatory practices took their toll. Devastating job and population losses extracted wealth by devaluing real estate and eviscerated historic downtowns.
In Columbus’ Near East Side, PACT and its partners have worked to change the community’s economic trajectory over the past decade. The success of their Blueprint for Community Investment reflects a strong focus on the Near East Side’s cultural significance. Over the next three years, their plan aims to continue preserving and leveraging the community’s rich history while creating an economic impact corridor that builds Black futures.
“We intentionally titled our proposal ‘Delivering Black Dreams,’” said PACT President Autumn Glover. “What that really means is infusing good development practices and principles in a natural weave of culture and legacy.”
A Pivotal Moment
All nine neighborhoods have shown that culture and resilience can endure even in the face of disinvestment. And all have laid a foundation for growth and are poised for revitalization with the arrival of significant private and public investment. But with opportunities comes the risk of displacement among Black legacy residents and businesses.
“Residents in East Tampa are feeling the pressures of gentrification,” said Ernest Coney, Jr., president and CEO of Corporation to Develop Communities of East Tampa. “We’re already doing a lot of great work. This partnership will allow us to go to scale – and residents will be directly involved in making sure that the answers and solutions in East Tampa are based around their visions.”
The Fifth Third Neighborhood Investment Program is part of Fifth Third’s $2.8 billion Accelerating Racial Equality, Equity and Inclusion initiative. The commitment is focused on four strategic pillars with targeted outcomes: strategic investments, access to capital, financial inclusion and education, and social justice and advocacy.
The program also aligns with Enterprise’s strategic plan and three central goals to increase housing supply, advance racial equity and build resilience and upward mobility.
“We are thrilled to partner with Fifth Third,” said Enterprise’s Almodovar. “I believe with their commitment and intentionality, Fifth Third is uniquely suited to change how the banking industry accelerates equitable outcomes.”
Visit 53neighborhoodinvest.org to follow the nine neighborhoods and their vision for the future.