When the going gets tough, Grace Taylor has never been one to sit out on the sidelines and she knows that, like her, Flint and Genesee County residents are the same.
They’ve seen plenty challenges. But, more recently, residents are beginning to see ever larger, and more positive, signs of recovery. Proof lies in the opening of Lear’s $29 million seating manufacturing facility in Flint, Lodgco Hospitality’s $17 million investment in The Hyatt Place Flint-Grand Blanc, GM’s opening of its $65 million ACDelco and GM Genuine Parts processing center in Burton and Mahindra’s proposed plan to invest $1 billion in the revitalization of Flint’s Buick City.
Downtown Flint’s $37.9 million Hilton Garden Inn also promises to be a boon for the region.
“Slowly, but surely, the city of Flint and Genesee County have gained ground and are reversing negative investment trends,” says Taylor, Metro Community Development’s outreach coordinator. Taylor is a part of a larger effort aimed at ensuring that every resident that wants to take part in the region’s resurgence has access to necessary resources needed to get and stay ahead.
Functioning as the event coordinator for the “Moving You Forward Opportunity Expo,” a groundbreaking resource fair happening on Oct. 9 at Kettering University, Taylor says the effort is “all about building equity and inclusiveness.”
“We’ve partnered with Huntington Bank, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) and others to bring Flint and Genesee County residents a comprehensive amount of resources that will touch anybody and everybody that walks through the door. We’ve been working diligently for about the last six months and have close to 50 vendors,” Taylor says.
She’s expecting hundreds of people to attend and take advantage of the opportunity to learn about resources in the areas of financial education, homebuyer education, employment and small business opportunities and training — to name a few.
RISING HOUSING VALUES SINGAL OPPORTUNITY
Signs of elevated interest and investment in Flint and Genesee housing stock abound. “We definitely feel a groundswell in terms of interest being in an upward swing. There’s a lot of new energy in this area,” says Van Adams, a departmental analyst and outreach specialist at MSHDA.
Local real estate broker and owner of Flipping Flint, Nykole Pfaff, has also recognized a heightened enthusiasm.
“Property values are up roughly three to five percent in Genesee County and the median household income is up roughly 5.5 percent,” she says. “People are looking to invest now more than ever. As their incomes are increasing, they are wanting to make a future for themselves and their families.”
“The best time to invest in housing is before the big booms,” adds Taylor. “And, according to emerging market signals, that the time to prepare for the next surge is ‘now.’”
Metro and its housing partners Huntington Bank and MSHDA, don’t want eligible residents to sit on the sidelines too long and miss out on the opportunity to build equity in the neighborhoods they love.
There are lots of resources to help renters become homeowners and tons of economic benefits, too, according to Taylor. “Even those who don’t think that they can’t qualify for a home purchase often do,” says Taylor. “The expo is an easy way to find out what find of financial help you might be eligible for.”
Taylor is excited that representatives from MSHDA’s Step Forward Michigan program will be onsite. “If you are even remotely imagining yourself buying a house you need to come speak to them,” she says.
“We want to help as many people as possible take hold of the resources available to help them move from renter to homeowner status and experience the economic benefits that come with home ownership,” says Taylor.
INCREASE YOUR CREDIT SCORE DECREASE DEBT
Credit scores matter more than many think, according to Taylor. “Locally, the average credit score is in the 500s, and you can’t get an auto loan with scores like that. Or if you do, you are going to be paying an exorbitant amount which adds to financial burden,” she says.
Monthly bills, mortgage interest rates and business loans are also impacted by credit scores. Landlords use them when considering renters, and some employers also conduct credit checks as part of the hiring process.
For many, getting a handle on their credit scores can be challenging and intimidating. To help get the ball rolling, there will be a “soft credit pool” center at the “Moving You Forward Opportunity Expo”, where participants can come in and get an idea of where their credit score is.
It won’t affect any existing scores and participants can get on-the-spot private one-on-one financial coaching from experts, according to Taylor.
NO TIME LIKE NOW
The expo will unfold in an open house format from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. so that attendees can have the option of popping in for a few minutes or a few hours.
“We want to see you, whether you work the first shift, second shift or third shift” says Taylor. “If we can help residents keep a few more dollars in their pocketbooks and create new home-owners, we’ve made an impact.”
In addition to the housing and financial experts on hand at the event, there are a few vendors that Taylor is particularly excited about. One is Stroke Ready who will be holding several workshops to educate attendees about the warning signs of a stroke.
“Genesee County has the highest incidents of stroke. We will have people coming out to the expo to help citizens recognize some of the warning signs,” she says.
Taylor stresses that Metro, and the other expo partners, are committed to helping every person who attends take full advantage of all the resources that were specifically assembled to have a positive impact on Flint and Genesee County residents, and by extension, the region itself.
“The Expo is about getting ahead. It’s about giving you access to the resources you need to take the next step so that you can continue to move forward,” Taylor says.
Participants will be able to meet with financial aid, health, housing, insurance and neighborhood resource specialists, in addition to employers, bankers and area nonprofits, according to Taylor. Confirmed exhibitors include:
City of Flint
Flint Registry Outreach
Genesee County Habitat for Humanity
Genesee County Land Bank
Genesee County Prevention Coalition,
Genesee Health Plan
Genesee Health System
Greater Flint Health Coalition
Hamilton Community Health Network
Holy Cross Services
Huntington Bank (Workshop)
Hurley Medical Center
Kettering University – First Robotics Team (Demonstration)
Latinx Technology Community Center,
Legal Services of Eastern Michigan
LISC Communication Access Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Metro Community Development (Workshop)
MSHDA – Michigan State Housing Development Authority (Workshop)
Michigan State University-Flint Campus
Molina Health Insurance
Mott Community College
Mott Workforce Development,
National Kidney Foundation of Michigan,
Neighborhood Engagement Hub
Oak Street Health
Social Security Administration
Sovita Credit Union
Stroke Ready (Workshop)
Total Life Prosperity
United Way of Genesee County
USDA Rural Development
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
Editor’s Note: The “Moving You Forward Opportunity Expo” will take place at Kettering University on Oct. 9 from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.. The event is free and open to the public. Kettering University is located at 1700 University Avenue in Flint. Visit metrocommunitydevleopment.com for more details.
To learn more about Kettering University’s summer camps, visit the Kettering booth at the Expo or kettering.edu/precollege.