The Heritage South Commercial Revitalization Association has rejected plans to merge with another community development corporation and is looking at becoming a Hispanic/Latino community development corporation.
The move to become recognized as such could bring federal and state funds to South Toledo, Phillip Barbosa, Heritage South's executive director, said yesterday.
The Heritage South board voted last week to keep its present structure after considering plans to merge with the RiverEast Economic Revitalization Corp., among other groups.
Heritage South's decision emerges on the heels of three central-city CDCs agreeing to merge in light of losing federal Community Development Block Grant funding through the city.
The Warren-Sherman Area Council, Roosevelt Revitalization and Development Corp., and Toledo Olde Towne Community Organization agreed earlier this month to merge to form the New Vision Community Development Corp.
In May, City Council approved a recommendation by Mayor Jack Ford's administration not to grant Heritage South and the three CDCs forming New Vision block grant money in hopes those organizations would merge with other successful community groups.
Mr. Barbosa said board members decided not to travel the route of New Vision because they felt it would lose its community identity.
Instead, Mr. Barbosa pointed to the construction of the new Toledo-Lucas County Public Library South branch and McDonald's on Broadway that may be used an anchors to attract businesses and activities to the area.
The 8,000-square-foot, $1.3 million library is being built a block from the current library at the current McDonald's site. McDonald's is building in a shopping center at Broadway and South Avenue.
Hispanic business leaders from around Ohio will view the South Toledo area tomorrow morning as the Ohio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce holds a statewide meeting in Toledo.
Mr. Barbosa said he plans to use the event to possibly spark interest in development.
The Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union also is planning to revamp the first floor of the Heritage South headquarters on Broadway and Orchard Street to use as a branch office.
“We're excited about the possibilities,” said Mr. Barbosa, who became executive director in April in the midst of the funding controversy. “This is a bold statement we're making for our community.”
The idea of a Hispanic CDC in Toledo seemed to please the mayor.
“If being designated as a Hispanic CDC will make a difference and energize that CDC to become a force for building homes and economic development in Toledo's south end, I will support it,” Mr. Ford said through his spokesman, Megan Vahey. “The concept of a Hispanic CDC, while new to Toledo, has actually been done elsewhere in cities like Chicago and other large urban areas.”
The organization's board president, John Hulse, stressed that the board is “investigating” the possibility of being a Hispanic CDC and had not decided to do so.
Asked for his view on the possibility, Mr. Hulse responded: “The board had several options, and that's the decision it made.”
Maria Rodriguez Winters, the organization's vice president, said it has been no secret that the Heritage South board was moving to work closer with the Hispanic community, as was written into the organization's 1999 strategic plan.
“We definitely don't want to alienate anyone, but people do own their own feelings,” Mrs. Rodriguez Winters said. “We can't change the way people feel.
“We have a lot of support, and we can only pray that we're all on the same page,” she said.
Mrs. Rodriguez Winters said for Heritage South to be considered a “Hispanic CDC” by some funders, the board would have to be 51 percent Hispanic.
The organization recently brought in five new board members, bringing the Latino representation to six, compared to seven white board members.
The new board members are:
w Hernan Vasquez, a University of Toledo trustee.
w Betty Anzaldua, a UT grant writer.
w Jesus Salas, a lawyer with Advocates of Basic Legal Equality.
w Celso Rodriquez, publisher of El Tiempo, a weekly Hispanic newspaper.
w Joe Balderas.
Mrs. Rodriquez Winters said Heritage South has openings for two other board members.