Development Partners to Outline $155M Grant Proposal

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A coalition of regional development partners today will submit a joint application for approximately $155 million from the Appalachian Community Grant Program to fund 43 projects in Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana and Ashtabula counties.

The partners – Eastgate Regional Council of Governments, Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, Western Reserve Port Authority, Columbiana County Port Authority and Ashtabula Port Authority – will host an announcement event at 3:45 p.m. that will be streamed on Facebook Live and provide further details about the projects.

Approximately $500 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds was earmarked for Ohio’s 32 Appalachian counties by the Ohio General Assembly and Gov. Mike DeWine with the passage of House Bill 377 in June 2022, according to Kathy Zook, Appalachian Regional Commission program manager at Eastgate.

Working with a consultant, Eastgate – the regional planning organization that serves Mahoning, Trumbull and Ashtabula counties – and Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association, which includes Columbiana County among its member counties, worked with local constituencies to identify projects that meet criteria for the program.

“The majority of these projects in some way, shape or form will contribute to our ability to retain more people, receive more people and then, therefore, grow the population, which feeds back into our objective, which is to grow jobs,” said Guy Coviello, president and CEO of the Regional Chamber. “The only way we can grow jobs is to have more people here to fill the jobs.”

To qualify, projects must address at least one of three priorities identified in HB 377: infrastructure, workforce or health care, according to documents from the Ohio Department of Development, which oversees the Ohio Appalachian office. Additional criteria include having a transformational impact on their communities, being responsive to issues caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and being feasible for completion by October 2026. Awards are to be announced in early 2024.

“It’s a once-in-a-generation investment, but there are a lot of things you have to do in order to meet what the standards are,” Zook said. “These projects will provide sustainable, regional, transformative change for future economic and community development within our Appalachian region.”

The application includes funding requests for downtown and riverfront development, workforce development, incubators and museums. Eastgate evaluated some 60 proposed projects.   

“These projects all are sort of themed around the great opportunities that the community has to grow its economy and then some of the challenges to that,” Coviello said. Those challenges include expanding the area’s population to fill the jobs that are being created locally by improving quality of life and upgrading housing stock to retain and attract people.

“We’ve tried to be fair to all our counties or cities, villages, and tried to spread the money out, but we also want to keep an eye on what really helps the region,” said Jim Kinnick, executive director of Eastgate. “We loved all our projects. But we moved on top of the ones that we feel really fit the criteria and can meet the tight deadlines of construction.”

Pictured at top: Image via Facebook | Eastgate Regional Council of Governments.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.