New Markets Tax Credit Success Stories

Mixed-Use Charter School/Retail Space Development in Brooklyn, New York

Empowerment Reinvest Fund, LLC (ERF) allocated $5 million in New Markets Tax Credits (NMTCs), and TruFund Financial provided a $2 million loan to aid in the redevelopment of the Pitkin Avenue Theatre in Brownsville, Brooklyn. According to census data, the project is in an area where the poverty rate is 42 percent and median family income is 39 percent of the area median income (AMI). Its total direct impact was the rehabilitation of 166,000 square feet; creation/retention of over 160 permanent jobs and over 215 construction jobs; and increased access to educational services for 1,000 children from low-income families.

The combined ERF investment and TruFund loan helped to increase the charter school’s capacity from 200 to 1,200 grade school students. The school provides for the needs of local residents, of which 99 percent are minorities, and where 87 percent of the students currently enrolled are eligible for free or reduced priced lunch. The school also created 90 new jobs for teachers.

In addition, the newly renovated space served as a much needed anchor retail space, which occupies over 40,000 square feet, for local small businesses. Consequently, local residents are better able to access retail goods within their community. Additionally, the project met Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver standards, and the charter school included within the project was built in accordance with the principles of the New York Collaborative for High Performance Schools (NY-CHPS). NY-CHPS builds upon LEED’s standards, and is utilized by LEED for new school construction.

Community Facility for YMCA in Pueblo, Colorado

ERF made a $9.2 million NMTCs allocation to construct a 20,000 square-foot community facility for the YMCA in Pueblo, Colorado, as part of a larger YMCA campus. The $17.8 million new facility includes a child development center with toddler, preschool, and before/after school care; an aquatic center; a community meeting area with a satellite public library; computer lab; health and wellness center; and gymnasium.

The site is located in a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Hot Zone, where the unemployment rate was over 1.5 times the national average. The project created 65 construction jobs and over 140 permanent jobs.

The facility is active with members of all ages. Various indoor areas include: a family play pool and warm-water therapy/rehab pool, two fitness areas with cardio and strength equipment, large gymnasium, child care area, computer center, the Pueblo Public Library satellite branch, and a teen center. Outdoors, there is a toddler’s playground and children’s playground.

Princeton Medical Center Expansion Project in Birmingham, Alabama

ERF invested $10 million of NMTC for the 60,000 square foot renovation and 90,000 square foot expansion of Princeton Baptist Medical Center’s (PBMC) facilities, including new operating and lab facilities. ERF’s NMTC investment was part of a highly visible and impactful renovation and expansion project called the PBMC Expansion in Birmingham, Alabama. The NMTC equity allowed the hospital to maintain the financial resources required to continue to deliver high-quality, clinical healthcare in a very volatile healthcare finance environment and sustain its role as an engine of community development and healthcare education in the Targeted Distress Community that is the West End of Birmingham. Wells Fargo served as investor and co-CDE.

The project created 546 construction and 293 permanent jobs for the benefit of the City of Birmingham/Jefferson County economy with long-term annual increased economic activity of $35 million. This is on top of the 3,247 jobs that are a function of the current hospital operations and the $454 million in economic activity that hospital operations support. TruFund staff attended the grand opening of the new facility in October 2012 and site visits were conducted in February 2013 and November 2015.

Industrial Park for Innovation, Design & Manufacturing Renovation in Brooklyn, New York

“The momentum of the Brooklyn Navy Yard in creating jobs and attracting investment is undeniable. The Brooklyn Navy Yard is proving that modern manufacturing has a bright future in New York City.” —Robert K. Steel, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development”

—Robert K. Steel
Deputy Mayor for Economic Development

The Brooklyn Navy Yard (the Yard) is a mission-driven industrial park that serves as a model of the viability and positive impact of modern, urban industrial development. The Yard is now home to over 330 businesses employing more than 7,000 people and generating over $2 billion per year in economic impact for New York City.

In 2012, the Empowerment Reinvestment Fund invested $8 million in NMTCs for a $73 million business financing project to renovate Building 128, a 215,000 square-foot facility for use as manufacturing space for a textile manufacturer, and new industrial small business at below-market rents. This allocation helped promote local industrial economic development and employment in a FEMA designated disaster area where the poverty rate is greater than 25 percent. The project created 333 new permanent jobs for low-wage workers sourced from the surrounding low-income community.

Building 128 has become the home for New Lab, a hub for innovation and design firms in the realm of robotics, engineering, and nanotechnology, among other things. It hosts over 350 employees for the companies who reside in the building, who enjoy a full metal-and-wood shop, a 3D printing lab, and digital manufacturing tools. Businesses located at Building 128 include Crye Precision, a designer and manufacturer of uniforms and body armor for U.S. military personnel, and Macro Sea, an architectural design firm.

Most of the businesses located in the Yard have sourced a large number of their employees from the employment center run by the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation. The employment center provided 351 job placements in 2015, 120 of which were local residents, most of whom reside in public housing just outside the Navy Yard gates. The full-time average salary for all employees placed through the center is roughly $16.50 per hour, well above living wage. A significant portion of the residents placed in jobs are formerly incarcerated, or unemployed veterans.

Post-Disaster Reinvestment to Romark Laboratories in Manatí, Puerto Rico

Romark Laboratories, a manufacturing company headquartered in Florida, is a vertically-integrated pharmaceutical company devoted to the discovery, development, manufacturing, and commercialization of innovative new drugs for the treatment of infectious disease. The project consists of the construction of a 34,000 square foot manufacturing space on a 29.18 acre campus, intended as the first of two development phases. The project uses a total $54.5 million, including $29 million in prior expenditures.

The project, located in Manatí, Puerto Rico, is in an area with a poverty rate of 42.6 percent and an unemployment rate of 15.8 percent. Romark anticipates creating approximately 136 full-time jobs within two to three years of project completion and an additional 82 direct full-time predevelopment or construction jobs. By the end of the six-year compliance period, Romark projects creating 225 jobs in total. Romark’s relocation will result in most of its employees being minorities. The company is also committed to hiring at least 50 percent low-income persons and will offer a salary higher than Puerto Rico’s median and living wages. Employees will receive both benefits and training.

This project has drawn strong support from the Puerto Rican government, including Mayor Sánchez González of Manatí, and Governor of Puerto Rico Rossello Nevares. The mayor is setting aside funds it has obtained from the U.S. Department of Labor to support Romark’s employee training programs. Further, the government-owned Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company has provided Romark a $1.3 million infrastructure incentive and a $1.2 million employment creation incentive.

National Comedy Center Development in Jamestown, New York

In 2017, ERF made an $8 million QEI to develop a 35,000 square foot interactive comedy center anticipated to draw 114,000 visitors per year. The project was considered a top economic development priority within New York State’s Western Region’s Economic Development Strategic plan and addresses economic struggles in the Chautauqua County 20/20 Comprehensive Plan. At the time of ERF’s engagement, market studies indicated the center would generate $23 million in annual economic activity. This would represent an enormous economic impact on the non-metro City of Jamestown, New York, which has just 35,000 residents. The project has now exceeded those expectations and has triggered more than $65.5 million in adjacent investment (3.28x the initial estimates), including two new hotels, one hotel renovation, multiple restaurants, and the renovation of the civic center, all expected to create 155 indirect jobs.

National Comedy Center has received numerous accolades, such as inclusion on TIME Magazine’s 2019 “World’s Greatest Places” list and PEOPLE Magazine’s “100 Reasons to Love America.” It was also named USA TODAY’s “Best New Museum in the Country” and the “#2 Best New Attraction in the Country” and has garnered a 5/5 rating on TripAdvisor and 4.8/5 on Google and Facebook.

In the first 15 months after opening, the Comedy Center has drawn over 95,000 visitors, of whom 88 percent came from outside the county, indicating the project has had a significant impact on local tourism. In that time, Jamestown received the highest sales tax revenue in its history and the highest quarters of occupancy tax revenue in the history of the county, with larger increases than any other localities in the state.

In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, National Comedy Center and its dedicated staff have worked quickly and diligently to mitigate lost revenue. They enabled an online streaming platform and launched a series of fundraiser programs via streaming, with participation by big names like Tim Allen and Jay Leno. They have a robust re-opening plan which is being branded in partnership with UPMC Chautauqua, a regional medical center, under the name LaughSafe. National Comedy Center’s prior demonstrated success coupled with their nimble disaster response gives us confidence that they will continue to transform the local landscape of Jamestown and Chautauqua County.