Kip Wahlers is currently a partner at Ice Miller, with a focus on economic development and public finance. Kip joined Ice Miller, after serving as general counsel for JobsOhio, the state’s private non-profit economic development corporation. Prior to joining JobsOhio, Kip was a partner at Calfee, Halter & Griswold, where he led its Columbus public finance practice. Over the past two decades, Kip has been involved in hundreds of financings for and through governmental entities totaling in the billions of dollars.
Kip has been involved with Big Brothers and Big Sisters through his service on the board of the Mentoring Center. He has four daughters, two about to enter college and the other two who have graduated.
Kip is a native of Toledo. He earned his bachelor’s degree in English at the University of Georgia, and continued his studies at the University of Michigan, where he received a Master’s degree in English. After spending time using his English degree to write newsletters for a luggage rack factory, he returned to the University of Michigan where he obtained a law degree, graduating in 1991. After graduation, he returned to Ohio; he has been a resident of Central Ohio since 2000 and currently lives in the Arena District.
Why are you passionate about the Homeport mission?
The holistic nature of the Homeport mission is very attractive to me. So often, economic development is viewed through a narrow lens. Often, for example, people might cite job creation as the only real measure of success. And while job creation is important, the creation of communities where people can work, can have safe and affordable housing, where they can educate their children, where their families stay and prosper – those are fundamental values. Homeport’s programs, with their focus on making affordable housing readily available, and ensuring that once it is available that it remains sustainable, are exciting and innovative. Once I learned about them, I wanted to work with them. I am even more excited to be helping the organization grow and prosper.
What would you tell a friend who was considering getting involved with Homeport as a donor or volunteer?
I would encourage them to reach out to the staff at Homeport and schedule a tour. It is inspiring to see the transformation of the neighborhoods where Homeport has been active and it is humbling to know that there is still so much to be done. Safe, affordable housing is something that every person should be able to access. Right now, we are well short of that goal. But I don’t know of any organization in the community that is more effective than Homeport in helping to make progress.
What do you feel is the most critical aspect of affordable housing in Columbus and Central Ohio?
I am deeply concerned about developments at the national level, where Congress may not see the value of continuing critical programs for tax-exempt bonds or tax credits. These tools are important for market-based aids to solving the affordable housing crisis. Without them, the job becomes much more difficult.