Economic Development in Ada: Community Development
Economic Development in Ada: Community Development
Ada’s economic development hinges on a community that has the housing, infrastructure, and quality of life to support new economic growth. We broadly use the term “Community Development” to encompass all of the efforts that help build a community that can support economic development and these efforts comprise the 3rd part of our local approach to economic development in Ada and it is a core part of our community economic development strategy produced in 2020 (link).
As part of this community development initiative we are focused on building a cooperative, programmatic approach to our downtown main street, addressing our local housing needs, including physical infrastructure and social support networks. We are also exploring and reimagining how we can capitalize on the unique character of our neighborhoods. All of this relies on the engagement and cooperation of many organizations and groups in our community. The Ada Jobs Foundation has been working on projects that fall under the Community Development umbrella since our inception. As we move forward, we are excited to create a community that best serves the needs of our businesses and talent in the areas of housing, infrastructure, and community placemaking and vibrancy.
Here are some of our current initiatives
Ada Business Improvement Grant
The Business Improvement Grant was started in 2018 through a collaborative partnership between the Ada Jobs Foundation, Ada Main Street, and the City of Ada. The program is structured to create matched grants of up to $5,000 each year to commercial or mixed-use properties in the downtown and Main Street areas of Ada. Since the program’s inception, there has been over $433,000 of total investment created in the downtown area of Ada by Business Improvement Grant projects and we expect to see over $150,000 of new investment over the next year and a half. These grants help small businesses and downtown property owners invest in critically needed improvements to the interiors and exteriors of buildings. These improvements allow Main Street to continue being a competitive location for small business and allow our community to benefit from investments that maintain the historic and vibrant character of our Main Street district.
Mixed Use Housing Initiative
One type of housing that is found in downtown areas is known as mixed use housing. Apartments are located on the floors above ground floor commercial offices, restaurants, and retail shops. Our downtown is already home to a few of the developments, but we are looking at ways to address barriers that exist and offer support to building owners considering development of their upper floors. We know that as more people locate downtown, we create an atmosphere that will support the vibrant neighborhoods our potential workforce craves. Starting in May, the Ada Jobs Foundation will host a quarterly roundtable discussion centered on downtown mixed-use development.
Community Housing and Neighborhoods Initiative
This is a new initiative for the Ada Jobs Foundation and it is based in feedback we gathered from the community in our most recent economic development strategic planning process in 2020. We are in the process of gathering data, feedback, and many perspectives to create a multipronged approach to housing. This effort will encompass increasing homeownership, blight abatement, grant funded improvement programs. The programs will incorporate creative ways to approach housing in our community through land banks, community development finance organizations, and housing trust funds. We will work hand-in-hand with the City of Ada to address zoning level barriers to entry and partner with community groups to brainstorm how we want our community to function. As this initiative develops, the Ada Jobs Foundation will support robust community engagement, foster transparency throughout the process, and continually educate ourselves and our stakeholders.
There are currently 162 registered non-profit organizations doing mission based work in Pontotoc County. These groups range from affordable housing developers to arts based education and covers everything in between. We rely on our local non-profits because of the transformative impact they have on community, and we strongly believe that we are stronger because they are working. We are working with the local agencies to map resources, provide assistance to local non-profits in their strategic planning process, and develop strategic partnerships.
- Community Development is an essential driver for economic development in our community and it directly impacts the potential for businesses to hire and retain talent in Ada.
- The Business Improvement Grant program has helped support over $433,000 of new investment in our Main Street District and continues to help make Ada’s Main Street an attractive and vibrant area with a historic character.
- We are launching several new initiatives to support housing and neighborhood development and the research phase for this initiative is already on the way. Be on the lookout for focus group events, workshops, and action team meetings in 2022.