Wheeler mission women's center building

Wheeler Mission and RecycleForce to Use New Market Tax Credits for Expansion on Near Eastside

On May 23rd, 2019, the US Treasury Department announced $3.5 billion in New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) awards to spur economic development in urban and rural communities across the nation. In total, 73 Community Development Entities (CDEs) were awarded allocations, including Indianapolis Redevelopment CDE, LLC. Indianapolis Redevelopment CDE, which represents the City of Indianapolis despite being a separate entity, was awarded a $55 million allocation of New Markets Tax Credits. The New Markets Tax Credit program allows private investors to receive tax credits in return for investments in capital projects through CDEs. The program’s primary goal is to boost private investment in capital projects within low-income communities, which have historically experienced disinvestment. This marks the third time that Indianapolis has received a New Markets Tax Credit award since the program’s inception in 2000, and the second since the Promise Zone designation in 2015. The Promise Zone designation has resulted in increased capacity for Near Eastside community partners, many of whom have united around key large-scale redevelopment projects. This increased capacity and pipeline of projects, in addition to the application preference that is available for New Markets Tax Credit applications that will impact Promise Zones, has strengthened the City’s position as an applicant. After a few months of deliberation, the City of Indianapolis announced in late October that it had selected four projects to receive funding through its latest New Markets Tax Credit allotment, including two projects in the IndyEast Promise Zone. Both Wheeler Mission and RecycleForce will receive funding to support expansion on the Near Eastside. These organizations do very different work, but both play a key role in helping community members in their own way. With this new investment, both organizations will increase their footprint in the local community.

The Wheeler Mission Center for Women and Children, located at 3208 East Michigan Street, was chosen for investment through the City of Indianapolis’ New Markets Tax Credit award. Wheeler Mission, founded in 1893, is a non-denominational Christian organization that provides vital goods and services to the homeless population of Indiana. With nine locations in Indianapolis and Bloomington and nearly 200 employees, Wheeler Mission is the largest ministry of its kind in Indiana. The Center for Women and Children, located on the Near Eastside, provides a variety of services to women and children experiencing homelessness in Indianapolis. The Center helps provide for the basic needs of the people they serve by offering shelter and serving meals. Medical clinics and other residential services are also available to provide residents and those seeking emergency shelter with more well-rounded care. The use of New Markets Tax Credits to help expand the Center for Women and Children will complement an ongoing capital campaign that aims to raise $12 million for the project. Plans indicate that the Center could add 164 permanent beds, 40 emergency shelter beds, 84 family shelter beds, and 30 transitional apartments. Other services offered to residents and those seeking shelter will also be expanded. This expansion will allow the Wheeler Mission Center for Women and Children to help many more women and children deal with the struggles of homelessness, hopefully enabling many to find permanent shelter and stability.

The other Near Eastside project that has been selected for New Markets Tax Credit funding is the relocation and expansion of RecycleForce. RecycleForce is a social enterprise that combines an electronics recycling business with a mission to help formerly incarcerated individuals with social and career development. RecycleForce currently operates out of a 67,000-square-foot space at 1255 Roosevelt Avenue, near the Mass Ave industrial corridor. Founded in 2006 by Gregg Keesling, RecycleForce has had multiple homes on the Near Eastside. In 2012 RecycleForce moved into the Circle City Industrial Complex, before moving into their current space in 2018. However, relocation and expansion plans will see RecycleForce return to its original home: Sherman Park. RecycleForce originally worked out of a since-demolished television factory at Sherman Park before their 2012 move. With the City’s commitment to New Markets Tax Credits, RecycleForce plans to construct a new 105,000-square-foot building at the northeast corner of Sherman Park. At nearly 40,000-square feet larger than their current space, RecycleForce’s new building will pave the way for expansion. It will also be part of the larger redevelopment efforts which aim to turn Sherman Park into a valuable community asset. Founder and President Gregg Keesling shared his excitement about the plans for RecycleForce and Sherman Park: “RecycleForce looks forward to becoming an anchor at Sherman Park. This is where we started, and we are excited to go back and create jobs for our community.” The growth of RecycleForce will help provide more people coming back to the Near Eastside community from the criminal justice system with the support they need, thus aligning with the Promise Zone’s Safe IndyEast goals. Re-entry services are vital to ensuring that formerly incarcerated members of the Near Eastside community can find stability and build a career. RecycleForce’s work to connect people with job training in order to seek living wage employment also aligns with Work IndyEast goals. The City’s decision to support RecycleForce’s relocation and expansion using New Markets Tax Credits in one that will help build a stronger workforce and a safer community for the Near Eastside and beyond.

Pictured: Planned RecycleForce site at Sherman Park (credit: Indianapolis Business Journal)

New Markets Tax Credits are a powerful tool that can be utilized in the work of empowering low-income communities. The City of Indianapolis’ success in repeatedly leveraging these awards has helped fund many catalytic projects, and will hopefully continue in future award cycles. Check out more local coverage of this and past New Markets Tax Credit awards:

Four local development projects picked to receive $35M in incentive funds (IBJ)

City lands $55M in federal tax credits for economic development projects (IBJ)