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Coates Connection Fall 2013

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SUMMER / FALL 2013 Coates C O N N E C T I O N ASCENDING Development Finance PHOTO BY MARK MALLON I n i t i at i v e H e l p s C o m m u n i t i e s S e c u r e F UN D IN G for E c o n o m i c Development Projects Michael Lemanski, director of the School of Government's Development Finance Initiative, helps communities rise to new economic heights. At first glance, Michael Lemanski may not seem like the adventure-seeking, daredevil type. However, when it comes to exploring abandoned buildings and ascending decrepit rooftops, this community and economic development professional enjoys a challenge. Lemanski has spent 10 years as a private developer helping lead a transformation in downtown Durham, but these days he is working with communities across North Carolina. Lemanski leads the School of Government's Development Finance Initiative (DFI), which helps local governments in North Carolina secure private investment for development projects in distressed areas. At the request of local leaders, Lemanski and the DFI team (see DFI: At a Glance for a list of School faculty and staff involved in DFI) have spent the last two years assessing the economic development needs of 27 North Carolina communities. The DFI team works closely with public officials on plans that help promote jobs, encourage economic development, and resurrect downtown buildings and residential areas. "DFI's focus is on providing the development and finance expertise necessary," Lemanski explains. "My role is to help North Carolina communities properly assess the risks and create the right environment for private development to occur. Our mission is to help communities achieve their economic development goals." School of Government | School of Government | UNC-Chapel Hill Foundation NewsletterFoundation Newsletter | UNC-Chapel Hill Tony Sears, Kinston town manager, worked with Lemanski over the last year on a land acquisition strategy to redevelop an old t-shirt factory while also expanding residential development to attract private investors. "Working with the DFI team has been easy," says Sears. "They've brought numerous solutions to the table, and they will see the project through to completion." Lemanski is currently spending a lot of time in the City of Wilson, continuing to leverage public resources to attract private investment into distressed buildings and neighborhoods. "Engaging in these difficult projects is worth the risk," he says, "because 20 years from now, I envision stronger and more vibrant communities as a result of DFI."

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