PNC Focus on Accessible Communities Leads to Milwaukee's VisABILITY Center
PNC's $18.8 million in financing for a newly renovated center for visually impaired individuals stresses the impact of putting support behind building accessible communities.
Milwaukee-based Beyond Vision works to reduce the obstacles people with vision loss face while finding employment. The not-for-profit company's new VisABILITY Center, scheduled for completion in August 2022, will be Wisconsin's first facility designed to optimize accessibility and employment resources for people who are blind or living with significant vision loss.
Delivering Impactful Solutions
Two PNC business segments worked together to finance the renovation of the center – Milwaukee's Commercial Banking team provided $14 million, while PNC Real Estate's Tax Credit Solutions business provided a New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) allocation of $2.5 million and a NMTC equity investment of $4.8 million.
“This facility is a testament to the impact that the New Markets Tax Credit program can have on our communities, as we work to identify and address their most pressing needs," says David Gibson, senior vice president and manager of Specialty Tax Credit Investments for PNC.
The center will include audio smartphone interface navigation systems, textured flooring for blind employee wayfinding, flooded ambient lighting for low-vision employees, Braille signage, assistive technology and landscaping with ample green space.
More than 2% of U.S. adults are blind or live with significant vision loss. Only 44% of those adults are employed. The new facility will serve the Milwaukee area's more than 11,000 women and men who identify as blind or visually impaired.
Reaching Expectations and New Heights
Jedidiah Moss, a Beyond Vision employee, says he's looking forward to the new facility and the boost it will give for workforce development and economic empowerment.
“This focus on employing the legally blind gives us purpose," says Moss, who was born with a rare degenerative eye disease. “When we get paid, we put our money back into the economy. We're more likely to buy homes, spend at local businesses, and we're able to really enjoy the city that we live in."
He says the new center will reinforce the ability of the community's visually impaired to go beyond perceived limitations and reach new heights of achievement.
Chris Hermann, PNC regional president for Wisconsin sees the VisABILITY Center as a reflection of PNC meeting the needs of communities in Milwaukee and surrounding areas through its Main Street banking approach.
“We seek to provide equal access to resources and are committed to leveraging the power of our own resources to help our customers and communities succeed and move forward financially," Hermann says. “Accessibility often sits at the crossroads of innovation and inclusion, and PNC is proud to play a role in helping this center remove barriers to advance career success for the individuals who are blind or live with vision loss."