Land Bank’s Reasearch, Funding Skills Win Fans in the Motor City

When the Center for Community Progress drew up its agenda for Land Bank Conference 2011 in Detroit, planners knew they wanted to hear from the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corp. (CCLRC), commonly known as the Cuyahoga Land Bank.
Specifically, conference planners for the group, based in Washington, D.C., wanted to hear about the Land Bank’s state-of-the-art research capabilities, which have become a national model since the Land Bank’s start-up just two years ago, and its creative funding strategies.cropped-cropped-google_apps_logo_141.png
Gus Frangos, CCLRC president, and Michael Schramm, director of IT and research, presented the group’s use of advanced technology and how it helps drive the Land Bank’s success. Part of their tactic is to democratize much of the data-that is, to put information about properties in front of people who can act on it, such as the county auditor or treasurer. CCLRC’s information is part of “NEO CANDO,” a data system managed by the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development at Case Western Reserve University.
The Land Bank takes that technology to an even more meaningful level by connecting NEO CANDO with “The Eye,” CCLRC’s own in-house system for profiling properties. With that system, the Land Bank can “see” at a glance a property’s characteristics, liens, code violations and much more.
“Coordinating these diverse databases into a useable, strategic research tool results in strategic acquisitions of properties,” Frangos told the group, “as well as strategic dispositions.”
That same afternoon, Robert Rink, vice president of legal affairs for the Land Bank, spoke on organizational and strategic factors affecting CCLRC’s funding options. Attendees learned that the art of financing for larger land banks is enormously complex and leveraging funds depends on the form the land bank takes-i.e., whether it is established as a county department, a non-profit corporation, a private-sector enterprise or some other type of organization. It’s also critical to clarify the land bank’s stakeholders, jurisdiction, laws affecting it, public purposes and overall mission in order to transform revenue streams into bond-financed, front-loaded budgets.
More than 430 county and land bank officials from across the country attended the conference, and reviews of the Land Bank’s presentations were unanimous: “Solid stuff,” wrote one attendee. Said another: “This is one of the best presentations I have seen in recent memory.”

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