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Wichita, Kansas

Seal of reading "Celebrating 30 Years - CDBG Still Delivers - Performance Counts!

Cessna 21st Street Learning and Work Campus

CDBG 30th Anniversary Recognition of Excellence

For many decades, Northeast Wichita was an important economic and residential center of the city. However, by the beginning of the 1980's, it had become Wichita's most troubled areas. In 1990, the Cessna Aircraft Company, in partnership with the City of Wichita, opened a training facility on 21st Street to provide employment opportunities for individuals on public assistance considered unemployable and to begin revitalization of northeast Wichita's 21st Street Corridor.

With the assistance of HUD and the City of Wichita, Cessna dramatically expanded the program in 1997. The project is comprised of two components-in the first phase, the City acquired the former 48-acre Heartspring property for a total of $1.2 million, after that organization announced it was moving to another part of the city. An eight-acre portion of the site was redeveloped into Cessna 21st Street Learning and Work campus. The complex consists of a campus that includes a 27,000-square foot light assembly facility and a 20,000-square foot learning/day care center for Cessna trainees living in the neighborhood. The Campus also includes on-site trainee housing. Construction was completed October 1997.

The willingness of Cessna to undertake this major commitment significantly contributed to the success of this project. This approach was spearheaded by Cessna's former Chairman and CEO, Russ Meyer, as a means to give something back to the community, beyond the regular charitable activities. There were four unique elements of the training program that existed which contributed to its success. Program length was tailored to the individual trainees. Counseling was provided throughout. Wages and benefits were provided during training, and guaranteed employment was provided upon graduation. Those elements, plus a day care center capable of holding 40 children and safe, affordable housing, was made available on the campus for trainees.

Despite hard economic times as result of September 11th, the basic premise of the program remains intact-to train public assistance clients and place them in entry-level employment. The project exceeded all goals. The initial goal was to place 115 welfare-to-work clients in full-time employment. To date, the project placed 321 persons in full-time jobs-279 percent above the original goal! This public-private investments represents one of the most exciting and dynamic partnerships in the nation between the federal government, local government, and the private sector to transition individuals from public assistance to private sector jobs and to economically revitalize a major part of the city.

The total facility costs were $5.9 million dollars financed by the City of Wichita using approximately $750,000 in Community Development Bock Grant funds, $3.6 million in HUD Section 108 Loan Guarantee Funds and $1.6 million in Tax Increment Financing. Cessna invested over $17 million dollars in the project.

Content Archived: April 20, 2011

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