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Summit County Hopes To Strengthen Finances to Develop Downtown Akron, Other Areas

photo of Chris Burnham

Summit County is considering an investment strategy that could boost economic development programs in the area.

Summit County usually has about $300 million on hand as revenue comes in that isn’t due to be paid out. It invests that to earn interest. But it wants to leverage more value from the money by putting a couple of million dollars of in a “loan reserve” for the Summit Development Finance Authority.

Authority President Chris Burnham says that will help bond sales to support more local revitalization and development projects.

“Those kinds of things are not likely to be funded by traditional lenders. We’re going to need to partner with other lenders. This will part of a capital stack that help make those things happen in downtown. I think that was another reason the county decided to assist us with this."

Burnham says the county would still get the interest on the $2 million. But, having it in the agency's reserve account will help boost bonds that are sold to pay for development efforts.

“People buy the bonds that we issue based on the rating. And the rating results from underwriting criteria and the amount of reserves supporting the deals.  And this $2 million -- deposited with our bank to be held in trustto support the bond fund -- it’s going to be a layer of reserves.”

Chris Burnham on bond ratings and development funding

The Finance Authority president also notes that the $2 million in reserves will add $14 million in loan capability. And he says that's especially important now with a lot of ambitions plans being brought forward.

The reserve account idea was presented to Summit County Council this week and may be brought up for a vote next week.