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RIC Hopes to Improve Neighborhood Stability

by John Panetta

The newly founded Riverwest Investment Cooperative (RIC) held its inaugural investor/membership meeting April 10 at Dino’s Restaurant. More than 40 residents from Riverwest and the City of Milwaukee were in attendance to learn more about this community-driven venture. The mission of RIC is to build a stable, diverse and vibrant community by directing member-owned resources to agreed upon investments in the Riverwest neighborhood.This will increase owner-occupied housing, which improves neighborhood stability and ultimately improves the value of Riverwest homes without directly threatening the loss of its valued diversity. RIC was created by a group of Riverwesters interested in creating a vehicle to positively influence the neighborhood for current and longtime residents. At the meeting, Quinn Wilder and Tom Stocco, two of RIC’s founding members, addressed several questions that were raised by those in attendance –What are RIC’s goals? How does Riverwest benefit from this cooperative? How does RIC make property investment decisions? What’s in it for individual investors — including investment terms, conditions, and returns? RIC wants to purchase distressed property, perform necessary repairs, and match those properties with new owner occupants who share a direct stake in the well-being of the Riverwest community. But RIC can’t take its first step without support from the community. RIC’s success depends on people stepping forward with an initial member investment of $1,000. The organization has already raised $10,000. With member resources, the member-elected Board of Directors and officers of RIC will then direct the investments in Riverwest property, while individual members receive a competitive return on their investment. (How much? That is among the first decisions of the elected board of directors.) At its April 24 meeting , RIC began the process to establish a permanent board of directors and officers. The first annual meeting will be held at the 604 E. Center St. at 7 p.m. May 22. One of RIC’s founders Quinn Wilder, had this to say about why someone might want to put their hard-earned money into this enterprise: “Here’s a couple of problems that I think RIC will address: While foreign relations continues to occupy many of us, one might ask what could be done at the local level to control our neighborhood’s destiny. RIC is a solution. Many people feel they have had little alternative but to build some retirement funds by socking their savings away in stocks and bonds, thereby quite possibly supporting activities to which they are morally opposed.RIC is a solution. Many people oppose the idea of the kind of gentrification that would create a ‘culture drain’ in Riverwest, thereby threatening to leave it just another bland sub-urban corporate worker-bee refueling zone. RIC is a solution.” Riverwest Currents – Volume 2 – Issue 5 – May 2003
by John Panetta