Innovation and adaptation are vital to rebuilding our communities and our economy. In Kentucky, Rural LISC has supported a multi-year collaboration that is retooling the decimated houseboat and marine industries and putting 1,600 people back to work. Kentucky Highlands Investment Corp. and architecture students from the University of Kentucky have developed a new green design for affordable housing that can be built by struggling houseboat manufacturers using locally sourced materials. The partnership has already restored the economic footing for a range of companies and families, and it is expanding in 2012 to do even more.
Duluth LISC is helping low-income residents find jobs, grow their assets and stabilize their financial future with its first Financial Opportunity Center. Launched in 2011 in collaboration with Community Action Duluth (CAD), the Center expands the impact of LISC’s At Home Duluth program enrolling 255 residents in its first 10 months of operation. The results are impressive: 216 people receiving bundled services, 60 found or kept jobs; 100 increased their incomes and assets; and 61 improved their credit scores. Through the Center, CAD also brought $3.2 million in earned income tax refunds to neighborhood families, and started a transitional jobs program through Seeds of Success Green Jobs and Duluth Stream Corps.
When Cooper Lamp closed its Chicago factory in Chicago in 2005, it eliminated 150 jobs and left Logan Square with a shuttered landmark. But rather than accept that fate, local leaders and developers came together with support from LISC/Chicago to convert the facility into an incubator for new green businesses and a generator of new green jobs. Known today as The Green Exchange, it is the headquarters for Coyote Logistic, which coordinates truck haulers and employs 1,000 workers. And it is home to a range of other firms that produce eco-flooring, organic teas, hand-made packaging, and other green businesses adding another 1,100 jobs and counting.
Low-income families need the capacity to build a better financial future if they are to truly improve their quality of life. Some might need to develop marketable job skills and get help with job placement. Others need help accessing public benefits so they can stabilize their financial circumstances. They might need financial counseling to help them more effectively manage their income, reduce their debt and build their assets. Armed with the right tools, they can raise their standards of living. And in doing so, they can help build stronger sustainable communities.
To help families, LISC creates and supports proven programs that open doors to higher-wage, higher-skilled jobs; encourage entrepreneurship; and expand small businesses.