Barry Community Foundation Wins National Award

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Barry Community Foundation (BCF) was recently honored with the 2014 Secretaries’ Award for Public-Philanthropic Partnerships, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

It was creative funding, an innovative public-private partnership, and the community foundation's leadership that made it possible to bring a hotel to Barry County. Barry Community Foundation representatives Bonnie Hildreth, Jennifer Richards and Karen Heath accepted the award at a special presentation event during the Council on Foundations' community foundations conference in Cleveland, in October. 

“It took a village working in partnership with everyone in our county to achieve this award,” said Karen Heath, immediate past president of the Barry Community Foundation. “I’m humbled by the great accomplishment of this community.”

In 2006, developer Mike Moyles approached the Barry County Economic Alliance to bring a chain hotel to the county. The City of Hastings, along with Rutland, Carlton, and Hastings townships, helped put in place joint planning agreements and Barry County, along with the city and Rutland Township, crafted an urban services agreement to bring water to the site and create more opportunity to connect the municipalities and allow the development to proceed.

When the economy began to topple in 2008, funding suddenly became problematic with a projected shortfall of $250,000. That’s when the Barry Community Foundation was approached for ideas on gap funding. In July 2012, the Great Lakes Capital Fund presented the concept of a community development loan fund that could grant program and mission-related investments without creating the infrastructure internally for the required stress tests, loan rates and terms, quarterly reporting and transaction documents. In March 2013, loan documents were made and loans from Hastings City Bank, the Small Business Association of Michigan, an individual investor, and the Barry Community Foundation were combined with the gifts of several philanthropists in Barry County to create a revolving loan fund. That fund was established to continually invest in Barry County and will allow sustained investing to create economic growth and stimulation.

“Powerful outcomes occur when the philanthropic and public sectors come together to solve problems, enhance neighborhoods, and expand opportunity for others,” said HUD Secretary Julian Castro during Wednesday’s presentation. “I commend Barry Community Foundation for their deep commitment to serving the common good.”

Photo:  (from left) Vikki Spruill, president/CEO of Council on Foundations; Katherine O’Regan, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; Chris Beck, U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development; Bonnie Hildreth, president/CEO, Barry Community Foundation; Jennifer Richards, vice president, BCF; and Karen Heath, immediate past board chair, BCF.

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