Omega pumping millions into Dayton redevelopment project

Montgomery County provided a $350,000 boost last week to help get an $11.5 million education, job training and health center off the ground in northwest Dayton, an area of the county starved of investment and opportunity in recent decades.

The infusion will help the Omega Community Development Corporation construct, a 27,000 square-foot facility that will provide a bevy of community services.

Hope Center for Families will become a “teaching model for the reduction of poverty,” said Rev. Vanessa Ward, president of the social services and economic development arm of Omega Baptist Church.

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“Because we realized this particular community had undergone a lot of disinvestment the past 20 years, it was necessary for us to think about a high-quality, early-learning program in that area,” she said. “It was necessary to think about workforce development. It was necessary to think about health and health care.”

Omega Community Development Corporation is redeveloping the 30-acre former United Theological Seminary site off Harvard Avenue purchased by the church in 2005. The new development includes a nearly-completed $13 million senior housing complex. The organization plans to break ground for the Hope Center in February or early March.

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The new center will focus on a two-generation approach to addressing the needs of both children and their parents, Ward said. The approach ensures parents improve along with their children to help build economic wellness for the entire family.

“We believe that a child cannot advance if their parents are not moving along simultaneously,” she said.

A county Workforce Training Center will move to the facility to help people with soft skills and prepare for additional training opportunities at the Job Center, said Michael Colbert, Montgomery County administrator.

“That moves people in an upwardly mobile way,” he said. “That’s how we have been able to feed all these companies coming in here because we’ve been able to put people in those chairs.”

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Sinclair Community College will hold classes at the center to help adults obtain their GED or college credits and specialized program certifications.

The Hope Family Center will also house a Mini University, which currently operates five other early childhood development programs in the region.

A Children’s Medical Center pediatric clinic came as “one of the biggest surprises,” Ward said. The hospital determined more than 3,500 of its patients reside in the northwest Dayton area served by the Omega Community Development Corporation, she said.

Although the developers intended to include a health care component, it became more important with the loss of Good Samaritan Hospital farther up Salem Avenue, Ward said. The clinic will also provide behavioral health care for both children and adults.

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According to the community development corporation, its employment may grow from eight to 30 people. The Omega Senior Lofts are expected to be open in May. Seventy people have already shown interest in the 81 units. The Hope Center for Families is scheduled to open in April 2021.

The organization received about $2.5 million in tax credits and brought in more than $5.6 million through fund raising and other donations. The remainder will be traditionally financed, Ward said.

Applying a two-generation model to delivering social services at the Hope Center for Families will help close economic, educational and health gaps, said Montgomery County Commissioner Carolyn Rice.

“Time after time, we know that is the real answer, to have that holistic approach,” Rice said.

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