Franklin Is Key In Revitalizing Highlander 11/23/16 11/23/16 11:03:04 AM
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Cydney Franklin of 75 North is working with community partners to change the environment in North Omaha.
Franklin Is Key
In Revitalizing Highlander
By Elizabeth Elliott
The Daily Record
Cydney Franklin thought she wanted to work in a political office. Yet after an internship in Washington, D.C. for a New York congressional representative and a job as a policy aide working for a county board supervisor she realized she did not love politics. She found she did like local policy work and in 2011 applied for a job as a community development manager at the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce.
Now Franklin is the senior project manager, since May 2015, for 75 North Revitalization Corp., a community development agency revitalizing the Highlander neighborhood in North Omaha.
“It’s the mission of 75 North to completely transform the Highlander neighborhood by bringing quality housing and other needed community resources. We think the work we’re doing can serve as a catalyst for more types of positive activity and greater housing options in the surrounding community.”
Franklin said one goal of 75 North is to re-densify the neighborhood and create a safe, enriching neighborhood for families, singles and young professionals. “Access to healthy food options, retail and amenities people expect where they live and play are currently absent in Highlander. 75 North and our many community partners are working to change the environment.”
The Highlander redevelopment project is concentrated on a 40-acre site – Parker to Lake Streets, Highway 75 to Prospect Hill Cemetery – where the initial phase of housing, just over 100 rental units, is currently under construction and will be ready for occupancy in Spring 2017. In total, nearly 300 units of housing will be built on the site, the next phase being senior housing.
“Another exciting Highlander development is the Accelerator building which is a large-scale, multipurpose, multi-tenant community enrichment center.”
The Accelerator has been designed to be a community hub for programming around recreation, health and wellness, technology and the arts. The building will also house a greenhouse, a coffee shop and restaurant, according to Franklin.
One of the biggest challenges she has found in her work is the complexity of development. “Grasping the complexities of tax credit programs and other aspects of development have been a tremendous growth opportunity for me professionally.”
Franklin said there is no typical day at 75 North.
“Our mission is three-fold,” she said. “Our most visible work is our housing development and the development of the Accelerator building, just check out the flurry of activity on our construction site on North 30th Street. The third focus area is the turnaround of Howard Kennedy Elementary School, the Highlander’s underperforming neighborhood school.”
According to Franklin, this education component is one of the most rewarding aspects of the job, though is doesn’t get the same attention as the development piece.
“We are fortunate to be able to partner with Omaha Public Schools (OPS) to support Kennedy in its turnaround effort.” In April 2015, the OPS School Board voted unanimously to enter into a partnership agreement with 75 North to reconstitute Kennedy. Kennedy opened this fall in its reconstituted form. Within the next 10 years, 75 North hopes to see Kennedy performing in the top 10 percent of public elementary schools in the state.
Franklin has a degree in corporate communication from the University of Central Missouri and a graduate degree in public administration and public policy from San Jose State University. The 2014 Midland’s Business Journal 40 Under 40 award recipient is a Leadership Omaha alumni and a member of the Nebraska Economic Developers Association. Franklin also sits on the board of directors for the Urban League of Nebraska and the Union for Contemporary Art.
Franklin said being a member of the 37th Leadership Omaha class was a positive experience.
“Leadership Omaha created for me an opportunity to develop my networks and grow my understanding of how this city operates. Omaha is a relationship city so I would encourage anyone with the opportunity to take advantage of a program like LO and every introduction and connection it naturally brings.
Franklin said she has met mentors, friends and colleagues she can call on for support and that is something she has relied on.
When Franklin isn’t managing projects at 75 North, she enjoys running her dog, Legend, and spending time with family and friends. She also plays sand volleyball, practices yoga, participates in a book club and likes to experience what Omaha has to offer when she has time off.
For more information regarding 75 North, please go to: www.seventyfivenorth.org.