Economic Development

Eastgate Receives $600K to Establish Recovery Team

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Eastgate Regional Council of Governments has $600,000 more to put toward boosting the northeastern Ohio region thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.

The grant, awarded Thursday, is part of the Economic Development Administration Chicago Regional Office’s Partnership Planning program and funds the Eastgate Economic and Resiliency Project, which includes contracting a dedicated recovery coordinator and supporting team to develop a strategy to guide the region’s economic development efforts. Those efforts are in response to the March closure of General Motors Lordstown Complex, which was placed on “unallocated” status, as well as the “historic downturn of the coal economy,” according to a release from the EDA.

The recovery coordination team will work with local stakeholders to develop and implement a strategy to help the region respond to those challenges. The grant will be matched with $150,000 in local investment.

“Supporting locally-devised strategies to boost economic opportunity is a major focus of the Trump Administration,” said John Fleming, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development in a statement. “This EDA investment and local matching funds will help Eastgate contract a dedicated recovery coordinator, and a supporting team of individuals, who will help the region chart a course to renewed economic dynamism.”

The team will work with experts at Cleveland State University’s Center for Economic Development, an EDA university center, to determine how to focus the region’s economic resiliency efforts today and in the future.

The Eastgate Regional Council of Governments is grateful for the award and is “eager to get to work on recovery efforts,” said its executive director James Kinnick in a statement.

“Losing GM, one of our major employers, impacted our community in many ways. This award will give us the capacity to address these impacts by working to diversify our industrial base as well as strengthening our entrepreneurial ecosystem,” he said. “In addition, we will continue our existing efforts to coordinate the actions of our local economic development partners to provide the greatest possible impact for residents and businesses in our region.”

This project is funded through the Assistance to Coal Communities program, through which EDA awards funds competitively to assist communities severely impacted by the declining use of coal. Funds are used to support economic diversification, job creation, capital investment, workforce development and reemployment initiatives.

In a statement, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, praised the announcement and said the hiring of a dedicated recovery coordinator “is critical” in establishing long-term recovery efforts and advance community revitalization to transition from coal reliance while creating sustainable jobs in the region.

“Without question, the local and regional impact of the GM closing was profound – given the direct, indirect and induced loss of jobs. From the outset, my office communicated with Eastgate Regional Council of Governments, Youngstown State University and Cleveland State University to seek federal assistance under the Economic Adjustment Assistance program,” said Ryan, D-13 Ohio. “This is a critical and timely investment that will help us focus on a plan to reconnect local businesses with growing industry drivers.”

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.