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Published: Thursday, 3/24/2005

Toledo: NorthRiver director optimistic

BY CLYDE HUGHES
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Cutcher Cutcher
RUGGIERO Enlarge

She's hardly a new face in the NorthRiver Development Corp. offices on Lagrange Street.

And as one of the youngest community development executive directors in Toledo, Rossford native Kim Cutcher, 27, has years of experience behind her.

She's been working for the community development corporation for the past four years - most recently as its economic development project manager.

So when former director Earl Reid went to work for Lucas County as its facilities manager, she grabbed the opportunity to use her education and economic development skills to lead the corporation. She's been doing that for the past five months.

The poverty rate in NorthRiver's service area - bounded by Cherry Street, the Maumee River, Manhattan Boulevard, I-280, and Bancroft Street - is among the highest in the city.

"There are a lot of good and positive things happening here and we have to get the word out," Ms. Cutcher said. "The challenges that we face in this neighborhood are no different than what's being faced in any other neighborhoods."

Ms. Cutcher points to the new homes in Hyde Park, its 'New Schools, New Neighborhoods' projects to upgrade the community around Chase Elementary, and its recent approval to become a federal Weed and Seed community site as pluses for NorthRiver's service area. The Weed and Seed program matches community policing with youth and special programs to decrease crime.

She said NorthRiver has been working with the city to make Summit Street more pedestrian-friendly, which will include better lighting and landscaping in hopes of attracting new business to the thoroughfare.

Land that will be made available after the Veterans Glass City Skyway I-280 bridge is completed could be made into park land - a new destination along and near the Maumee River.

"I don't think we realize the benefits the water front will have for us," Ms. Cutcher said. "It's an untapped resource and I think it will be a huge benefit."

Ms. Cutcher said, though, the reality of working in the community development corporation field today is dwindling resources among foundations and lack of support from the federal level. Ms. Cutcher said she is appreciative of her local knowledge.

"Like a lot of young professionals, I didn't see myself in Toledo," Ms. Cutcher said. "I wanted to do something different. I wanted to be where things were happening."

She found things happening in Toledo and helped make things happen through NorthRiver. David Eddy, her former boss and now a vice president at National City Bank, said Ms. Cutcher has the talent to run a community development corporation.

"First and foremost, Kim is a very good person and very genuine," he said. "You get that from the first time you talk with her. She has good common sense, enthusiasm, and great follow-through skills.

"She understands issues involving diversity and that everyone needs decent, affordable housing. It says a lot that the board had enough confidence in her to hire her."

Contact Clyde Hughes at:

chughes@theblade.com

or 419-724-6095.



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