Operation Food Search to Renovate Headquarters with $11M New Markets Tax Credit Allocation

Rendering of a building. Sign on the building reads, "Operation Food Search."

The renovation will amplify Operation Food Search’s programming and impact, benefiting 200,000 individuals monthly with essential food and services.

Operation Food Search (OFS) is increasing its programming and impact with the renovation of its Overland, Mo., headquarters, to be completed later this year. The project is being funded by an $11 million New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) loan from the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership (STL Partnership) with U.S. Bancorp Impact Finance as the NMTC investor. Smith NMTC Associates, LLC provided NMTC services to the hunger-fighting nonprofit.

The project includes the addition of more than 2,000 additional square feet of freezer and cooler space, more warehouse racking for shelf-stable food storage, an expanded hydroponics program, the construction of a teaching kitchen and demonstration garden, improvements to volunteer and staff spaces and client meeting spaces.

“The New Markets Tax Credits will provide exciting opportunities for Operation Food Search to expand its reach, serve more of our residents and provide more community engagement,” said County Executive Dr. Sam Page. “I appreciate the work of the Partnership in making this expansion possible.”

Founded in 1981, OFS provides food and services to 200,000 individuals every month, one-third of whom are children, through a network of 330 community partners in 27 counties across Missouri and southern Illinois. In addition to providing food, OFS offers programs that provide nutrition education, help families prepare healthy meals on a budget, and advocate for policies that address food insecurity.

“We’re grateful for the opportunity to work with STL Partnership on this significant investment in Operation Food Search’s capacity to address hunger across our region,” said Howard Smith, principal at Smith NMTC Associates, LLC. “New Markets Tax Credits have the potential to transform communities and the organizations that support their advancement.”

Congress first authorized the NMTC program in 2000 to incentivize private investment in economically distressed communities by providing investors with a federal tax credit. Through the NMTC program, the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund), which administers the program jointly with the IRS, allocates federal tax credits to certified Community Development Entities (CDEs) like the Heartland Regional Investment Fund (HRIF) of STL Partnership through a competitive application process.

“We’re confident that this New Markets Tax Credit allocation will significantly contribute to the success of OFS’s initiatives,” shared Jeff Colona, new markets tax credits director at STL Partnership. “The increased capacity and improved facilities made possible by this NMTC loan will strengthen our greater St. Louis community, impacting even more families in the fight against hunger.”

Experts in NMTC, this OFS project was facilitated by Smith NMTC Associates, LLC. Funding for the loan was made possible by the Heartland Regional Investment Fund (HRIF). The HRIF provides financing to projects in distressed communities through the federal NMTC program as determined by managing members The City of St. Charles, Southwest Illinois Development Authority and STL Partnership.

About Smith NMTC Associates, LLC
Smith NMTC Associates, LLC is a St. Louis-based firm that works with mission-driven organizations throughout the country to structure funding and provide ongoing compliance support for NMTC projects that bring community facilities and affordable for-sale housing to low-income communities and their residents. For more information, visit smithnmtc.com.

Note: All photos in this post are conceptual renderings.