- Community Projects
Mustard Seed Hill
Community Ventures has a longstanding commitment to Kentucky’s neighborhoods. We are constantly exploring new ways of understanding and addressing the complex challenges faced by our communities. Each year, we take on several large-scale community developments with the aim to create lasting solutions in our neighborhoods.
Who We Are - Opllo is an eCommerce website created by Community Ventures, designed specifically for small businesses to reach a new, broader audience of customers through online sales while bypassing the usual cost and technical burdens needed for eCommerce. The website will be a destination for customers to shop and support an aggregate of local businesses within a given geographic area.
Supporting Small Businesses - Opllo was created to support small businesses and to strengthen local economies in rural areas. Many of these businesses face similar challenges in modernizing their sales model by leveraging eCommerce technology. These businesses have traditionally faced a variety of barriers including overhead costs, lack of technical expertise, lack of access to quality product photography and videography services. Opllo addresses these problems by creating a low barrier to entry for businesses with low subscription costs, a pre-built website platform with user-friendly customization options to meet the unique branding needs of each business. Our subscription will include the support of our Business Development Specialists, available to provide guidance on updating business models, tracking online inventory, and more, while also providing photographers and videographers for product photography and video advertising production. As a result, Opllo’s business model will help small businesses reach a broader audience of consumers, increase sales revenue through online sales, modernize their business by creating a sustainable online presence, and support the local economy through the retention and creation of jobs.
Geographic Proximity - Opllo stands out among the established and emerging eCommerce platforms because of its unique focus on geographic organizing, which will allow customers to not only shop their favorite merchant, but more importantly, to browse a collection of all merchants within a county. This “virtual market” concept is designed to create exposure, not just for individual businesses, but for an entire local economy. Individual small businesses don’t have the market influence to attract all customers from a geographic area by themselves, but a collection of businesses from the same area can create a shopping destination for customers. Imagine shopping online at a local dress boutique, but then as you complete your purchase, you can see all the local shops in physical proximity to that boutique. You can now browse and patron each one of those shops, the same way you would window shop in person down a street of merchants. For small town business owners, their sales opportunities are traditionally limited to local in-person foot traffic from the same pool of customers. With Opllo, those same businesses will instantly have access to a world of potential consumers with the click of a button. This creates a chance to showcase the unique cultures and styles of various local towns, each with their own unique flavor and style, while highlighting the overall craftsmanship and uniqueness of locally-made products and goods.
Opllo’s Funding Partners - To date, Opllo has received funding from: Appalachian Community Capital through the Appalachian Regional Commission, NeighborWorks America, the U. S. Small Business Administration through the Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs (PRIME) and Old Republic Bank, the website’s founding partner. We are grateful for these partners who share in the vision for this project, and have demonstrated their commitment to supporting small businesses in new and innovative ways.
For more information, please contact:
Lowell Sellards, Director of eCommerce
Community Ventures is building 25 new homes in West Louisville. The development is part of a larger plan to revitalize the Russell neighborhood. This plan will reduce the area’s vacant lots and increase the area’s homeownership rate. The Cedar Street Development is adjacent to our kitchen incubator, Chef Space, a shared kitchen for food entrepreneurs. By addressing the need for businesses, jobs, and housing, Community Ventures will create a sense of place for area residents.
Construction begins May 2016, with the first home available by September. For more information, contact our Housing President, Marshall Crawford (800) 299-0267.
The Midland project is slated for groundbreaking in early 2016. This development will be a mixed-use, mixed-income development on the Third Street and Midland Avenue corridor. Featuring retail, housing, local food businesses and aging services, this project will be bringing many jobs and residences to the East End of Lexington.
Nursing core classes began at Union College in the fall semester of 2014 after Union College received accreditation to establish a four-year Bachelor of Science nursing program. Located in the southeastern region of the state, the Union College School of Nursing and Health Sciences was established as a way to decrease the nurse shortage in Appalachia and is the only program of it kind within fifty miles.
“There is a desperate need for baccalaureate-prepared nurses in our area,” said Lorene Putnam, dean of Union’s Department of Nursing and Health Sciences. “Union is proud to help fill the void.”
Community Ventures partnered with another community development entity from Virginia and provided $10 million in New Markets Tax Credit allocations to fund the $17 million project with U.S. Bank serving as the tax credit investor.
In March 2012, a devastating tornado outbreak hit Kentucky. West Liberty in Morgan County was one of the hardest hit towns; the infrastructure was severely damaged, including public utilities such as electric and water, and nearly all major buildings, including public schools, grocery stores, restaurants, and government offices were destroyed by the storms.
A strategic plan was developed to rebuild key components of the town, and Community Ventures provided $10 million in New Markets Tax Credit allocations to help rebuild several of West Liberty’s municipal buildings, including the Morgan County Office Building and Community Center, the Old Morgan County Courthouse, a judicial building parking garage, and a high school.
In 2011, Community Ventures partnered with four other community development entities to provide $40 million to the University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine. Located in Eastern Kentucky, the new medical school is part of a strategic plan to upgrade educational services in Central Appalachia.
New Markets Tax Credit funds were used to build the new facility for the college’s school of medicine, which encouraged nearly doubled medical student enrollment.
“This facility [changed] the landscape of Pikeville once again,” said Pikeville City Manager Donovan Blackburn. He referred to the project as “a catalyst to help carry us where we need to be”.