Community Services sells all $956,250 in tax credits to help pay for $2.4 million renovation of Laconia's old Federal Bldg.

LACONIA — Chris Santaniello, executive director of Lakes Region Community Services, announced yesterday that the agency completed the sale of $956,250 worth of tax credits, which is among the largest grants of tax credits in the history of the Community Development Finance Authority (CDFA) and the largest share of the financing to renovate the agency's new home in the Federal Building.
LRCS provides services to individuals living with developmental disabilities and acquired brain disorders as well as to their families throughout Belknap County and southern Grafton County.
The tax credits represent contributions to the agency from more than three dozen corporate donors in return for credits against their liability for state business taxes. Santaniello said that some firms took the opportunity to leverage a charitable contribution, but "what was amazing was that once some of these businesses learned more about LRCS they purchased more tax credits."
In 2009 LRCS was notified that it would have to leave the building on the former campus of the Laconia State School where it had operated since the 1980s. But, but before the year was out the agency was awarded the Federal Building on North Main Street, earlier vacated by the headquarters staff of the White Mountain National Forest.
In addition to the tax credits, LRCS secured a $25,745 grant from the CDFA to fund an energy audit as well as a $500,000 loan at two-percent and $225,000 Energy Enterprise grant, also through the CDFA, to install efficient heating and cooling systems. A Community Development Block Grant of $500,000 through the city of Laconia and a $145,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture/Rural Development topped off the $2,351,995 package to finance the renovation.
"We set some very extremely ambitious goals with this project," said Gary Lemay, president of the board of directors, "We got there." He stressed the importance of locating downtown where the agency could "support other businesses that support us."
Joanne Piper-Lang, director of development, said that the project led to the restoration of a historic building, provided a home for an important agency and introduced a new asset to downtown Laconia.
Santaniello said that "beyond the financial benefits, this opportunity has opened doors and built relationships for LRCS," explaining that the agency has entered partnerships with businesses it did not have before that she deemed "just as significant as the financial support we received."