Our Stories

Building hope and affordable homes in Michigan

By Philip Clelland

Manager, Corporate Stewardship Communications


In the heart of Romulus, Mich., a beacon of hope is rising to address the need for affordable housing in an economically depressed region where unemployment and unskilled labor runs high.


Housed in a 105,000-square-foot building in town, the Ginosko Development Company, a Black-owned organization founded by businessmen Amin Irving and John Hayes, is spearheading a new venture – Optimum Modular.


Its mission is focused on manufacturing modular homes that can be placed on land earmarked for affordable housing developments.


The visionary project is fueled by a $10 million equity bridge loan from the Black Economic Development Fund (BEDF), a mission-driven investment fund aimed at fostering economic empowerment and driving positive change in Black communities across the United States.



The loan covers land acquisition, construction and facility operations, and was enabled, in part, by a $20 million impact investment from Thermo Fisher Scientific, which makes strategic investments in regions where it operates in alignment with its 4i values - integrity, intensity, innovation, and involvement.


Supporting the BEDF is part of Thermo Fisher’s commitment to addressing inequalities through its business and hiring practices. By pooling its investment with other 10 other organizations and contributing those funds to the BEDF through the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Thermo Fisher and its co-investors are able to support multiple development programs through BEDF loans that, when paid back with interest, provide resources to fund additional projects.


The breadth of these programs and the impact they’re having across the country can be seen on BEDF’s interactive map.

Quotation marks
“Our partnership with LISC signifies our deep-seated belief in the power of community-led economic development. Together with our co-investors in the BEDF, we are empowering Black developers to strengthen the resilience and prosperity of individuals and families within their communities, catalyzing the type of transformation that can endure for generations to come.”

Meron M. Mathias
Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability
Thermo Fisher Scientific

For Irving, who is founder, president and CEO of Ginosko Development Company, his latest endeavor isn’t just about business. It’s about people, their stories and the impact projects like this can have on their lives.

“Optimum Modular is important to my local community because there is currently an affordable housing crisis,” Irving says. “The number of people age 25 and older without a high school diploma is 41 percent higher than the statewide average. Our factory not only can help reduce the unemployment rate in the city but can also increase the supply of skilled trades and institute training opportunities for people without a high school diploma.”

Given the region’s 16.4 percent unemployment rate, Optimum Modular prioritizes local residents in hiring as a means to stimulate economic activity while also creating job opportunities that go beyond assembling modular units, including roles in design and engineering, business development, marketing and project management.

The company’s model not only helps revitalize a neighborhood and give individuals the opportunity to build a better life for themselves, it’s also good for business. Optimum Modular has streamlined its development process to reduce costs, which translates to lower unit sales prices or rental costs—a lifeline for families in low-income neighborhoods and a promise rooted in equity and inclusivity.



“Growing up, I had this real experience of pain when [my family] couldn’t pay for housing,” Irving said. “My love for affordable housing comes from wanting to mitigate pain from my childhood experience. If other people don’t have to go through that, I want to know what can I do to help alleviate that pain a little bit.”

Thermo Fisher announced in early 2021 that it would invest up to $25 million in minority-serving institutions to help address the unequal access to capital for Black-owned businesses, Black entrepreneurs and Black communities in the United States. $20 million was committed to the BEDF, which was launched by LISC to increase financing to Black-led financial institutions, anchor institutions, and businesses.


Additionally, Thermo Fisher deposited $5 million in Hope Credit Union's Transformational Deposits program. Hope Credit Union provides financing to low-wealth families, people of color and financially underserved communities to support small businesses, housing, healthcare and other vital needs. The Transformational Deposits program is used to import capital needed to increase economic opportunities for individuals and families across five Deep South states (Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Louisiana).