Partner Feature: Thriving Communities Institute/Western Reserve Land Conservancy

By: Jim Rokakis, Director and Vice President

While S.B. 353 (passed in 2008) only allowed Cuyahoga County to establish a County Land Bank, H.B. 313 (passed in 2010) allowed any county over 60,000 in population to establish one as well. Lucas and Montgomery quickly moved to join Cuyahoga County in 2010.wrlc_logo
When I left county government in 2011, I joined the Western Reserve Land Conservancy and established the Thriving Communities Institute with the express purpose of forming Land banks in Northeast Ohio – the footprint of the Land Conservancy.
We have done that – helping to establish Land Banks in Erie, Lorain, Lake, Mahoning, Trumbull, Portage, Summit and Stark Counties. But we didn’t stop there and have assisted Franklin, Hamilton, Butler and Muskingum Counties as well. We are active in at least five other counties that have expressed interest in establishing their own Land Bank.
Our most significant achievement thus far is convincing the Attorney General to dedicate 75 million dollars of the “robo-signing” settlement towards demolition of abandoned/condemned properties in Ohio’s communities. The money is a great start but we are pursuing a federal solution as well.
On November 27th and 28th, the Thriving Communities Institute is hosting a two-day conference on Land Banking and best practices. The conference is being held at the Holiday Inn on Rockside Road in Independence, Ohio. For more information, visit: http://www.thrivingcommunitiesinstitute.org/conference.html.

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