GRAND FORKS, ND – Home ownership will become a reality for more residents of Grand Forks, thanks to a $1 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to the city’s Office of Urban Development.
The grant will establish a revolving loan fund to purchase and rehab homes for first-time home buyers who may not qualify for financial assistance. The city also will use the grant to continue its efforts developing neighborhood leadership and will fund an annual improvement project chosen by residents.
The announcement was made at a Friday morning ceremony to name the training room at the Research Enterprise and Commercialization Park (REAC) on the University of North Dakota campus as the John S. and James L. Knight Training Room.
The naming honors the founders of Knight Foundation, a national foundation based in Miami, Fla. with a significant presence in Grand Forks. In 2006, Knight Foundation made a substantial, $550,000 grant to the University of North Dakota Research Foundation for the project, which helps commercialize intellectual property created at the university.
“Knight Foundation, thanks to the leadership of Grand Forks Program Director Anne Corriston, stepped in to support the very important costs to get the program off the ground,” said Jim Petell, the foundation’s executive director. The REAC building opened in the fall of 2008 and has already created 60 new life science and technology jobs in Grand Forks.
The grant to the city, which Corriston announced at the ceremony, marks the second phase of Knight Foundation’s investment revitalizing Grand Forks’ first and most historic neighborhood. During phase one, residents participated in two community planning sessions where they helped craft a city plan to improve the look and the feel of the streets and acquire vacant properties. They also formed a neighborhood association and helped create a historic walking tour.
Knight’s planning grant built on Mayor Michael Brown’s Urban Neighborhood Initiative, which provides loans to help beautify homes and funds for city infrastructure improvements.
“With Knight’s investment and Mayor Brown’s work, Grand Forks has an opportunity to create a vibrant future for the region,” Corriston said.
Said Greg Hoover, director of the Office of Urban Development: “Knight Foundation’s support of the city’s fledgling community betterment program has been instrumental in helping us decide how and where to target federal housing dollars.”
Hoover added that Knight-coordinated visits from leaders in Biloxi, Mississippi, who have undertaken a similar effort, have helped boost the city’s efforts. Later this year, team members from Grand Forks will visit Macon, Georgia, another community where Knight invests, to see how master planning and the right combination of leadership and resources can transform a blighted neighborhood.
For the Office of Urban Development contact Greg Hoover at 701-787-9436.
For more information on the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, contact Anne Corriston (316) 461-2004.
About Urban Development
The mission of the Office of Urban Development is to enhance growth and prosperity through housing and community/economic development programs and projects.
About John S. and James L Knight Foundation
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes excellence in journalism worldwide and invests in the vitality of the U.S. communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects with the potential to create transformational change. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.
Near North Neighborhood Home Remodeling Show, 2/27/2011
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.