Member Spotlight by Woda Cooper Companies, Inc.
Provide us with a brief summary of your business’ services.
Woda Cooper Companies, Inc. and our affiliates specialize in the development, construction, and management of affordable housing communities. We also have an affiliated architecture studio based in Columbus called PCI Design Group, Inc. Affordable Housing Finance magazine ranked Woda Cooper Companies, Inc. 13th overall among the nation’s affordable housing Developers and 26th overall among Owners in its April/May 2019 issue. Our portfolio includes more than 300 communities and 12,000 units, serving workforce families and individuals, seniors, veterans, and those with special needs. We work with partners, such as nonprofit organizations and social service agencies, to provide supportive services in our properties as they are needed. With more than 600 employees, Woda Cooper operates in 15 states in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast.
Tell us about your company’s mission and values.
Our residents are our ultimate customer. It is a privilege to provide each household we serve with a modern, comfortable, and well-maintained place to live. We recognize the importance of our relationships with state housing agencies plus other federal, state, and local governmental entities. We understand the trust placed in us by local communities, and we seek to become valued members of those communities. As an employee owned company, we seek to create a positive and diverse work environment that allows individuals to achieve personal and professional growth. Our investors, lenders, and other financial partners can count on us to be good stewards of their resources. We strive to constantly improve in all aspects of our business so that we remain at the forefront of the affordable housing industry.
What are the services you use the most (or are looking forward to using) from the Columbus Chamber?
We appreciate networking with Chamber members interested in community development, particularly in ways geared to bettering the lives of those with moderate and low incomes and fulfilling their housing needs. We hope to build awareness and understanding for public policy needs related to affordable housing and make known new housing initiatives in Columbus. We are excited about Chamber resources to enhance our talent recruiting and provide new professional development opportunities.
How do you stay engaged with trends that you see in your industry?
Our company and team members maintain close working relationships with those addressing housing at the City of Columbus and Franklin County, as well as local neighborhood and economic development groups. We pay close attention to initiatives and priorities set by the Ohio Housing Finance Agency in order to remain competitive for Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) awards and for historic projects, we work with the Ohio Development Services Agency. We try to remain in tune with our financial partners’ goals for the community development projects they support. We participate in industry trade associations and groups in Ohio such as the Affordable Housing Alliance of Central Ohio (AHACO), the Ohio Housing Council (OHC), the Building Industry Association of Central Ohio, Women in LIHTC, as well as national organizations such as the National Association of Home Builders Housing Credit Group, National Housing and Rehabilitation Association, the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition, and the Council for Affordable and Rural Housing.
We are committed to green building practices to help preserve natural resources for future generations and to reduce utility costs for our residents. Energy efficiency is a high priority for all of our properties and we’ve earned more than 90 green certifications. Eight of our properties have earned LEED Platinum certification, the highest ranking by the US Green Building Council. In 2018, we opened our first Passive House development for super high energy efficiency. Fairwood Commons, in the Franklin Park neighborhood of Columbus, will be Ohio’s first multifamily property designed to achieve PHIUS certification through the Passive House Alliance US. Fairwood Commons was named the Overall and Green winner in the prestigious Affordable Housing Finance Readers’ Choice contest in September 2019. Nelsonville School Commons in Nelsonville, OH, was named Rural category winner.
What is your company culture like?
As an employee-owned company, Woda Cooper employees are rewarded for their contributions in the business’s ongoing success. The number one priority for our team is to serve the residents in our affordable communities and ensure the highest level of performance possible across all areas of our business.
Team members have expertise in community development, housing design and construction, property management, plus corporate services such as accounting, finance, administration, communications, IT, and human resources. Of the 600 Woda Cooper employees, roughly 130 staff members work at our headquarters in the Brewery District of Columbus. Others are based throughout our 15-state operating footprint.
Team members are encouraged to identify ways we can help others and serve the greater good in the communities where we operate. One example is our annual Woda Santa program that started with an employee’s idea to purchase, wrap, and deliver presents to residents that would otherwise not receive a gift at the holidays. Now in its twelfth year, the Woda Santa program has been a huge success through our employees’ efforts and also some tremendous financial support from many of our investors, partners, subcontractors, and vendors.
Other recent examples of Woda Cooper’s philanthropic work include participating in the Ohio Housing Finance Agency’s Race for a Place to Call Home, a food drive sponsored by the Driven Foundation, and supporting employees raising funds for the Light the Night Columbus to benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
What does it take to be a successful employee at your company?
Hard work, dedication, and commitment to share talents, skills, and energy as part of a strong team.
What makes Columbus such a great place to do business?
We believe in Harvard Business Review’s term “The Columbus Way” to describe the positive impact when government, business, and civic groups work together to make a community better. It is a motto we follow closely in our work in Columbus and beyond. We see it at work every day. We believe that strong partnerships between private and public entities help create strong affordable housing that make a difference in peoples’ lives.
A few years ago we moved our corporate headquarters from Westerville to an expanded and state-of-the art office in a great location in downtown Columbus. We are excited to be part of Columbus’ vibrant downtown business community and we value what the diverse LIVE:WORK:PLAY atmosphere the City offers to our employees. We are also very proud of our work to create much-needed affordable housing in our hometown. We now have two beautiful affordable housing communities operating in the Columbus, with seven more in the pipeline of development.
Where is your favorite place to have a meeting outside the office?
Last spring Woda Cooper hosted a networking event for Women in LIHTC (Low Income Housing Tax Credit) at the Graystone Wine Cellar. All of the guests thought it was a fantastic venue for an after-work gathering.
LinkedIn: Woda Cooper Companies, Inc.