City Awards $39K Grant for Former Councilman’s Project

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Youngstown Board of Control approved a $39,599 Youngstown Initiative program grant Thursday to a companylaunched by former city councilman Artis Gillam.

The grant to Artis’ Tender Love & Care, 2003 McGuffey Road, was recommended last month by the committee that oversees the Initiative program, over the objection of Law Director Marty Hume.

Artis’ Tender Love & Care is a residential treatment center that Gillam is developing for adolescent girls.

“He is still finishing up some work that needs to be done on the site but the building for the most part is complete,” said T. Sharon Woodberry, the city’s director of community planning and economic development.

At Thursday’s meeting, as Hue did at last month’s Initiative committee meeting where members voted to recommend the grant, the law director again cast the lone dissenting vote against awarding the funds. Mayor John McNally and Finance Director David Bozanich voted in favor of the grant.

McNally said he is comfortable with his vote in favor of the grant. “This is an investment in the McGuffey corridor,” he said.

Gillam said he is waiting for the approval of a state license for the center and expects to open it next month.

The $197,997 project is expected to create 17 jobs within three years, according to city documents.

At the June 15 meeting, Hume, who serves on the Initiative program committee, said it was “unseemly” to award city money to the spouse of a city official. Gillam is married to First Ward Councilwoman Annie Gillam, who was elected to the seat he vacated when he could not run for reelection due to term limits.

The grant is legal under the Ohio Revised Code, which does not perceive an individual as having an interest in the business of a spouse, according to an opinion Hume sought from the state.

Woodberry and Tom DeAngelo, economic development coordinator, said at the June meeting they saw no “defined interest” in Artis Gillam’s project on Annie Gillam’s part. Woodberry urged support for the project, which will take place in an area that doesn’t see much investment.

At the same meeting, Hume argued that the city should have “very high standards” with regard to awarding grants.

Woodberry said yesterday she has not seen anything from the law department regarding whether the city should change its policy on awarding incentives to relatives of city officials.

“I don’t have a problem with this,” McNally said. “Everyone followed the advice that was given.”

Pictured: This building at 2003 McGuffey Road will open next month as Artis’ Tender Love & Care, a residential treatment center for girls.

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