Rooted in Our Communities: First Federal Lakewood Helps Businesses Weather Uncertain Times for 85 Years

 

“Our vision and mission is that all people have a right to affordable housing,” said John Habat, President/CEO at Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity.

First Federal Lakewood is helping Habitat for Humanity realize that vision with access to funding through a business line of credit and more recently, a loan through the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). 

“Nobody was coming forward offering us a line of credit. I said, ‘Let me try reaching out to First Federal Lakewood.’ What they did was arrange for us to have a line of credit,” said Habat. “There’s just no comparison. You go into the bank and they know you.”

Habitat for Humanity again turned to First Federal Lakewood to apply for a loan through the PPP to be able to keep its workers on the payroll. Habat said he was on the phone right away with someone at First Federal Lakewood. “In 10 days, we had our approval. When your banker comes through for you like that, that’s just the best,” he added.

Helping Local Businesses Thrive
Habitat for Humanity is just one of hundreds of organizations and small businesses First Federal Lakewood works with to invest in the local economy and help local businesses thrive.

Thinking Cap Child Care in Cleveland is an all-female, family-owned small business that provides child care services. Thinking Cap’s relationship with First Federal Lakewood began with a PPP business loan. Since then, Jaishawna Bates, Thinking Cap Director, has opened business and personal accounts, and referred friends and family to First Federal Lakewood.

“Receiving paperwork or an application can be so tedious. They gave me a little push and the reassurance that we would figure it out together. They go above and beyond in wanting to help. I think that it’s a wonderful thing,” said Bates.

IT-services firm UCG Technologies, which is located in Independence, was looking to secure flexible funding. A business line of credit from First Federal Lakewood was just what the company needed.

“We chose First Federal Lakewood primarily because of the people. I can pick up the phone and get them on the phone, send them an email or meet with them quickly in person. At other banks, that may not be the case,” said Jim Kandrac, President, UCG Technologies.

First Federal Lakewood has been committed to Northeast Ohio for 85 years. As a mutual bank, First Federal Lakewood is owned by depositors and not shareholders, so the emphasis isn't on quarter-to-quarter results. That has proven especially helpful during COVID-19 in being able to refocus resources to serve the community directly, providing additional assistance and helping businesses and organizations navigate the CARES Act.

“We continue to invest in our local economy and embody what it means to be a good neighbor and a mutual bank. We don’t just serve this community; we’re a part of it, too,” said Kurt Kappa, Chief Lending Officer at First Federal Lakewood. “We remain committed to helping our local economy and the members of our community get through good and bad times so they can thrive.”

Paycheck Protection Program
When the PPP was announced, First Federal Lakewood’s business team quickly got up to speed to be able to help as many local businesses and organizations connect to PPP loans as possible and weather the ensuing economic storm. The results through early July speak for themselves:

  • 1,259 total loans
  • $105.5 million in total PPP loan dollars
  • $83,722 average loan amount
  • Helped businesses retain 12,377 jobs in our communities
  • 93% of loans less than $250,000
  • 40% of total loan dollars to women and minority-owned businesses
  • 80 non-profits secured loans of more than $12.6 million

“We believe local businesses, non-profits and local economic development departments are the fabric of our community, working to make each community better. We have been proud to support our neighbors in securing loans through the PPP and a variety of other ways to support our local communities,” said Kappa.

He said relationships are a hallmark of working with a mutual bank, where clients get the knowledge and service of larger banks along with community knowledge and small-bank relationships—and the ability to form relationships with the decision makers at the bank.

Jim Kandrac from UCG Technologies agrees with that assessment. “At the end of the day, people buy from people and it’s about relationships. First Federal Lakewood stepped up to the plate, addressed our needs and got it taken care of,” he said.

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  • Next up: GCP Hosts Panel to Promote Diversity in Commercial Real Estate

    GCP Hosts Panel to Promote Diversity in Commercial Real Estate

     

    Over 40 people interested in commercial real estate attended What’s Happening in Cleveland: A Conversation on Diversity & Inclusion in Commercial Real Estate on October 24. Hosted at GCP and presented by the Real Estate Associate Program (Project REAP), attendees enjoyed refreshments while Ken McIntyre, the project’s executive director, spoke. He noted that the program serves as a bridge between talented minority professionals and commercial real estate companies looking for talent, through educating those professionals on the business side of the industry. Angele Robinson-Gaylord, President of North American Real Estate at IKEA, was the Keynote speaker. Graduating Project REAP in 2009, Robinson-Gaylord detailed her experience transitioning from practicing law to working in commercial real estate. As a woman of color, she noted how graduating Project REAP gave her the tools to succeed in an industry historically under-represented by people that look like her.

    Robinson-Gaylord then sat on a panel to discuss the current state of Greater Cleveland’s commercial real estate industry. Joining her was Michael Elliot (Program Manager of Capital Access Fund, National Development Council), Christopher Nance (Director of Construction Diversity & Inclusion Program, GCP), and Shonna White (Real Estate Manager, CBRE). After answering questions from moderator David Browning (Managing Director, CBRE), the panel opened to questions from the floor.  Questions pertained to the potential impact our local colleges and universities can have on minority participation in the industry, and how we as a region can make young minorities feel like real estate is a profession that they can and want to pursue. The evening ended with networking, as attendees had the chance to speak personally with the panel members.

    For information about an upcoming REAP Academy being planned for 2020 in Cleveland, please contact Vince Adamus at 216-592-2258 or vadamus@gcpartnership.com. Learn additional information regarding the nationwide REAP program.

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  • Next up: GCP Members Participate in Statewide Roundtable on Women and Minority Businesses

    GCP Members Participate in Statewide Roundtable on Women and Minority Businesses

     

    Last week, GCP women and minority-owned business members participated in a roundtable discussion event hosted by state Senator Nickie Antonio. The discussion focused on the unique concerns of women and minority-owned businesses. It also served as a starting point to help strategize potential legislative solutions.

    Women and minority business owners from across the state of Ohio convened for the meeting, providing valuable feedback to Ohio’s lawmakers in order to support the growth of female and minority businesses. GCP has remained committed to advancing business growth among a diversity of stakeholders. In its latest public policy agenda, GCP called for the review of administrative rules for various state programs that support growing minority and diverse ownership of small businesses.

    Conversations with members who experience obstacles to growth first-hand are a critical part of engaging the state legislature to pass comprehensive solutions.

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  • Next up: GCP Raises the Bar for Support of Levy Increases

    GCP Raises the Bar for Support of Levy Increases

     

    When GCP’s strategic plan called for a better understanding of the impact of our region’s tax climate, our members mobilized to support a deep-dive analysis. The result was an in-depth report that shows our region’s residents face a disproportionate tax burden when compared to peer cities.

    In light of the report and other ongoing research, this week GCP’s Board of Directors endorsed a resolution stating the organization’s intent to oppose future levy millage increases that fail to demonstrate a unique and compelling contribution to our economy. The decision was made by GCP member leaders in anticipation of additional levy requests in 2020, on top of other potential increases that will appear before the end of 2019.

    To read the full press release and the resolution, click here. You can read Cleveland.com’s coverage on the announcement here.

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  • Next up: GCP Reiterates Support for the Ohio Fairness Act

    GCP Reiterates Support for the Ohio Fairness Act

     

    House Bill 369 – a bill to enact the Ohio Fairness Act – received a hearing in the Ohio House of Representatives recently. The bill would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. 

    Many of our members – and GCP – have company policies in place that provide protections for LGBTQ workers. The House legislation is currently pending in the House Civil Justice Committee and GCP offered proponent testimony. Similar legislation exists in the Ohio Senate, Senate Bill 11, that GCP has also weighed-in on.

    Support for the Ohio Fairness Act followed GCP’s endorsement of Ohio Business Competes, a coalition of more than 300 companies that supports statewide non-discrimination policies for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.

    Contact your legislator today and ask them to support the Ohio Fairness Act.

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  • Next up: GCP Supports HHS Levy; Officials to Further Examine Structural & Levy Reforms

    GCP Supports HHS Levy; Officials to Further Examine Structural & Levy Reforms

     

    GCP Supports Health and Human Services Levy

    GCP and County Leaders to Examine Future Structural, Levy Reform Possibilities

     CLEVELAND, January 28, 2020 – The Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) announced the chamber of commerce’s support for a 4.7 mill eight-year Cuyahoga County health and human services (HHS) levy today.  In addition, the organization of more than 12,000 members vowed to convene with County officials to further examine HHS levy-related finances and agreed-upon measurements and metrics to help gauge progress going forward.  In order to help avoid a future HHS levy ballot increase beyond the March 2020 measure, the County plans to develop and publish HHS levy savings that are achieved.

    The HHS ballot measure will appear before voters in March.  The position aligns with GCP members’ support of the last two County health and human services levies.  GCP endorsed the 2016 renewal of a 4.8 mill HHS levy and the 2018 HHS renewal of a 3.9 mill levy.  In its 2018 endorsement, GCP member leaders vowed to closely and actively engage with the County on future levy proceedings. 

    “Cuyahoga County elected officials are to be commended for taking the business community’s concerns seriously in an ongoing effort to review possible taxpayer savings and improved services that can be achieved,” said Joe Roman, President and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Partnership.  “GCP believes support for the HHS levy increase is necessary because the effort demonstrates a severe and urgent societal need in which progress must be made to ensure economic vitality and those in need are protected sufficiently.  We think this can be achieved in concert with additional feedback and expertise from key stakeholders, partners, and the business community.”      

    In addition, GCP and County leaders agreed to establish a task force.  Among the purposes of the task force, will be to create an initial working group to explore and drive potential structural reforms.   Officials are committed to evaluating and pursuing reforms that may improve the overall efficiency of our local tax system to offer improved services and remain competitive with peer cities.

    “The business community’s support and expertise on health and human services issues over the years has been crucial,” said Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish.  “We’re fortunate to live in a compassionate region that understands the necessity of this HHS levy increase – an increase we have not proposed in my time as County Executive.  Like GCP, I also recognize the need to coordinate future tax levies in our region and continue to look for improvements we can make surrounding structural reforms and I am committed, and welcome others, to engage in those discussions going forward.  Finally, we are committed to working to ensure a health and human services tax increase is avoidable in 2024.”

    “Approving the HHS levy request this March is essential in order to protect those in our community who are most in need,” said Cuyahoga County Council President Dan Brady.  “We thank GCP for their support and we look forward to working with its members to identify additional cost savings and transparent metrics that can be identified to improve upon the significant progress we are making as community for our children and seniors.”

    GCP’s strategic plan, ForwardCLE, called for a better understanding of the impact of our collective tax climate.  The proposed health and human services levy represents the second major local tax increase proposal since data was released from the GCP tax analysis.  Additional local tax levy increases are also expected in 2020.  GCP has continually reiterated that the purpose of these important exercises and raising the bar for support for future tax levy increases is to seek areas for improvement, not to single out any one tax or entity.  This position is consistent with GCP’s stated resolve to address the unsustainable trajectory of tax growth and meets our stated basis for exception and creates a path and shared commitment to needed reform.

    “As stated previously, it is our sincere hope the public, private, philanthropic sectors, and others can come together to better understand and examine a more cost-effective means of providing vital government services in our region to benefit the communities they serve,” said Scott Chaikin, who serves as GCP Board Chair and Executive Chairman of Dix & Eaton.  “Our members are proud to offer support for the latest health and human services proposal.  We cannot afford to become complacent as a region, however, and working with public officials and our communities is a key ingredient to achieving the success and improvement we all desire.”

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