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New funding urged for LCIC

Aim is to rely less on federal money, get private sources

Leaders of the Lucas County Improvement Corp. said Thursday they need to lessen their reliance on government money and pursue private funding streams.

At a meeting of the board's executive committee, chairman Joseph H. Zerbey IV said with continuing cuts in local, state, and federal budgets, it's important LCIC seek new ways to fund its mission. In doing so, however, he cautioned against getting into a habit of grasping at grants that are easy to get versus ones that further LCIC's core mission.

"We need to be careful, but we do need to get serious about generating a cash flow from the private sector and private citizens," said Mr. Zerbey, who is also president and general manager of The Blade.

LCIC has applied for a 501c3 nonprofit status, said Ford Weber, LCIC's president and chief executive officer.

"We're hoping once we get that, we might be able to get some revenue streams in grants and maybe even corporate gifts," he said.

Going into 2011, LCIC expected a budget of about $800,000. The bulk of that -- estimated at about $450,000 this year -- comes through conveyance fees collected on real-estate sales in the county. LCIC also receives money from the Workforce Investment Board, which passes along federal money, but that money has been cut this year from about $320,000 to $135,000, Mr. Weber said.

No strategy has been developed yet, he said, though it is seen as important. He said there have been very early stage, unofficial talks but declined to give names.

"It'll be a challenge, but hopefully it's doable," he said.

The executive committee also spoke Thursday of the $287 million investment by General Motors in its Toledo Transmission Plant plant and the expected announcement from Chrysler on a sizeable investment in its own Toledo complex.

"It shows the community's commitment to advanced manufacturing is strong," Mr. Weber said.

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