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Community Renewal Good Stories - Cincinnati

Painting a Picture Full of Opportunities

Cincinnati, Ohio, EZ

The benefits provided by this Cincinnati, Ohio, EZ-based paint company extend beyond the EZ's boundaries and into the community at large. Not only does Nu-Blend Paints provide job training and opportunities, it also recycles unused latex paint, re-blending it into more than 150 different colors and a variety of finishes.

By purchasing the Free Store/Food Bank Building at 40 East McMicken in the Over-the- Rhine (OTR) area, Nu-Blend Paints demonstrated its commitment to EZ residents. "Without the Empowerment Zone we would not be here," said Bill Wojcik, Nu-Blend Paints' executive director. "The Empowerment Zone has been extremely helpful to our past and continued existence. We invite everyone to tour our facility. We see OTR as a viable community and we are committed to making the neighborhood a great place to live, work, and do business."

In 2001-02, the Cincinnati Empowerment Corporation, which administers the Cincinnati EZ, awarded Nu-Blend a grant and renewed it in 2002-03. Nu-Blend provides training and job opportunities to EZ residents. Its Painters Training Program teaches painting as a trade and helps graduates find occasional or full-time paint jobs and assists them in forming their own painting contract companies. The company presently has 16 employees, most of whom live in the EZ.

Painter Rhonda Lewise joined Nu-Blend Paints in its infancy. "I have started many things and never completed them," she said. "With the help of the Nu-Blend staff, I followed through and I'm proud of it." The mother of three, Lewise admits that her participation in the EZ program has changed her life. "I was struggling- making minimum wage, low self-esteem, lost, and confused. Now I have a much better income. I have learned patience and self-control and have had an attitude change," she said. "What I am most proud of is ... I took my 8-year-old son on a tour of where I work. When it was over he looked up at me with so much pride and said, 'Mom, this is where you work?'"

For more information on the programs of the Cincinnati EZ, call Harold Cleveland, CEO of Cincinnati Empowerment Corporation, at (513) 487-5200.