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A Brighter Future for Denton

December 20th, 2018 marked the culmination of 21 months of effort for Serve Denton and three of our partner agencies: Health Services of North Texas, Children’s Advocacy Center for Denton County and Denton Community Food Center.

We closed on a $9.5 million deal through the New Markets Tax Credit program that will enable each agency to accomplish strategic goals that may never have been achieved by the organizations working independently.

  • Health Services of North Texas (HSNT) will have a full-service clinic with a pharmacy in the zip code where most of its patients reside.
  • Children’s Advocacy Center for Denton County (CACDC) will triple the size of its Denton office and collocate with law enforcement—a similar setup to its Lewisville center.
  • Denton Community Food Center (DCFC) will triple the size of its space while improving its intake and service delivery methods.

Brené Brown, in her book Dare to Lead, defines a leader as anyone who takes responsibility for recognizing the potential in people and ideas and dares to develop that potential.  She makes the point that when we dare to lead, we don’t pretend to have the right answers; we stay curious and ask the right questions. We know that power grows when we share it with others. We don’t avoid difficult conversations and situations; we lean into vulnerability when necessary to do good work.

None of this progress would have been possible without strong leadership from the executives and boards of each nonprofit agency involved. Doreen Rue of HSNT, Kristen Howell of CACDC, Tom Newell and Mike Paulson of DCFC, and Carlie Kuban and Pat Smith of Serve Denton spent countless hours making this opportunity possible. Support and guidance also came from our respective boards and staff members.  These leaders demonstrated the courage to develop the potential of the New Markets Tax Credit program. No one pretended to have the right answers, and everyone remained opened minded as we collectively learned what it would take to be successful.  There were many difficult conversations and some “Red Sea” moments. There were times we doubted everything would go through given the complexity of the transaction and the million pieces that needed to fit together to make it all work.  However, everyone leaned in together to do good, hard work to make the deal a success.

The idea behind the New Markets Tax Credit program is to stimulate jobs and economic growth in depressed areas.  The federal government does this by offering tax credits to the private sector who then invest in projects in those depressed areas with forgivable loans. The loan lasts for seven years and provides approximately 20% of the project’s funding. The program allows communities to bring other funding sources to the project sooner than would be otherwise possible.

Collaboration is a word used a lot in the nonprofit sector. More often it looks like coordination or cooperation. High-level collaboration requires the sharing of risk—which means that failure is possible.  Collaboration happens at the speed of trust. It took great faith for these nonprofit agencies to agree to pledge $1.3 million to this project knowing that this deal might not come together. But it has.

It also required great trust of our architect Mike Bates of Bates-Martin Architects and our civil engineer Lee Allison of Allison Engineering Group to defer payment or donate their time to this effort.

The greatest faith was that of Vigil Strange of Axiom Commercial Company, our general contractor, who made considerable sacrifices to allow this deal to be possible. Each of these men demonstrated courageous leadership to produce a vision first cast over 40 years ago into a reality.

We also owe the success of this transaction to Jennifer Veal, President and CEO of Community Inspired Capital Development, who lead the way for Serve Denton and our nonprofit partners through this process. She started with us on day one of this journey, and we could not have accomplished this deal without her. Her expertise was vital each step of the way.

We expect to finish by mid-summer and be fully operational by the start of the school year. We look forward to celebrating the completion of this project with our partner nonprofits. At the same time, we hope this endeavor will be an example of what Denton can accomplish when people lead with courage.

Other challenges need to be addressed from homelessness to early childhood education to mental health, veteran support and substance abuse.  We now know, as a community, the benefit of us all pulling together, and what an impact that makes in helping others.

 

This blog is an excerpt of a post that originally appeared on the Serve Denton website: https://www.servedenton.org/serve-denton/brighter-future-denton on January 14, 2019.

About Our Blogger:

Carlie Kuban and Pat Smith


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