`We're trying to build a Latin-themed corner,' says Philip Barbosa, at Viva corporate headquarters on Broadway.
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It's Friday at the newly named Viva South Toledo Community Development Corp. There's a housing meeting with about 10 residents, lunch is on the table, and executive director Philip Barbosa is being pulled in three different directions.
Mr. Barbosa, 40, is the center of the activity buzz at the corporation's headquarters at 1841 Broadway. The former Heritage South Commercial Revitalization Association has been reorganizing to become the city's first “Hispanic” community development corporation.
“We are trying to build a Latin-themed corner,” Mr. Barbosa said. The Viva South Toledo area stretches from the Anthony Wayne Bridge to the Toledo Zoo. “Lagrange [Development Corp.] has the Polish Village and Eastern Europe, and so does Birmingham. We need our hook as well.”
Mr. Barbosa's involvement in the Hispanic community made him a strong candidate to help lead Viva South Toledo. He has been involved in politics since he ran for City Council in 1991.
He didn't win but called the effort a great learning experience where he made many lifelong contacts all along the way.
“I was a student at [the University of Toledo] and my professor, Hugh Hinton, and I just started talking about it, and before I knew it, I was on the doorsteps of the Lucas County Republican Party. Instead of working on a campaign, I was a campaign.”
In 2001, he ran again for the State Senate District 11 seat, losing to state Rep. Teresa Fedor (D., Toledo). He lost again but said he wasn't intimidated running against Ms. Fedor.
“I don't think it was daunting at all,” Mr. Barbosa said. “I just think we started the campaign too late. I was called by the party's chairman at the time, Patrick Kriner, and they knew my interest. We ran a good, clean race and met a lot of people and a lot of great contacts. Now, I ask [Ms. Fedor] for help, and she's been cooperative.”
Mr. Barbosa's mother, Carmen, is one of the founding members of the Spanish American Organization. Mr. Barbosa and his parents have helped that organization grow.
Before Mr. Barbosa joined Viva South Toledo, he was a project coordinator with the real estate development firm of Hillenbrand-Zaleski, Inc. He has volunteered as interim executive director until grants Viva South is seeking are approved.
He is a former president of the Northwest Ohio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the state's Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs.
Celso Rodriguez, one of the Viva South Toledo board members, said Mr. Barbosa has been a good fit for the organization so far. “He's done a good job in making contacts with the city, county, and state officials and administrators to make sure they know about us,” Mr. Rodriguez said. “We've had to change our bylaws, mission, and charter and a lot of that has fallen on his shoulders and he's done a good job with it.”
Mr. Barbosa said Viva South Toledo is just taking shape. Plans for the Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union to open a branch in the CDC's Broadway building will add a tenant and give residents a local banking option.
He said the group hopes its designation as a Hispanic CDC will draw more Hispanic-theme businesses to the area.
Mr. Barbosa said he wouldn't rule out another run at public office, but his sole concentration now is making Viva South Toledo a viable Hispanic CDC.