Eastgate, Struthers Get Funds to Bolster Voltage Valley Initiatives

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Appalachian Regional Commission awarded a total of $100,000 to local projects aimed at developing new manufacturing spaces and supporting the Voltage Valley development effort.

Eastgate Regional Council of Governments announced it was awarded $50,000 to study implementation of a regional utilities management system that streamlines development approvals and permitting across the Mahoning Valley.

In the same release, Eastgate said the city of Struthers was awarded $50,000 for its “Reimagining Struthers” proposal to study the potential of the city as a green manufacturing ecosystem.

The awards are part of a $46.4 million package supporting 57 projects across 184 coal-impacted counties through ARC’s Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization – or Power – Initiative. Power grants target federal resources to communities affected by job losses in coal mining, coal-fueled power plant operations and coal-related supply chain industries. 

The $50,000 grant to Eastgate will support an assessment of the existing utilities, with a focus on water, wastewater and electric power, in the project region, which is seeing substantial investment as part of the Voltage Valley development movement, as well as a regional implementation strategy that will identify best practices for utility regionalization, according to a separate announcement from U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan. 

The development of a regional utilities management system will streamline development and permitting across municipalities of eastern Ohio, increasing the potential of large-scale job creation at development sites. 

Struthers will use the $50,000 grant it received to create a regional strategic plan for green industrial manufacturing in Trumbull, Mahoning, and Columbiana counties in eastern Ohio, Beaver, Lawrence and Mercer counties in western Pennsylvania, and Hancock County in northern West Virginia, Ryan’s office said. 

The strategic plan will guide the development of Castlo Community Improvement Corp. Industrial Park, next to downtown Struthers, as a green industrial manufacturing hub for research and development. Additionally, the plan will assess the feasibility of reviving dormant industrial infrastructure to support a regional green manufacturing ecosystem that will increase jobs, business, and product development in the region. 

“With the leadership of Eastgate Regional Council of Governments, CASTLO Community Improvement Corporation Industrial Park, Lordstown Motors, BRITE Energy Innovators, the GM-LG Chem battery plant, Youngstown State, and others, our region is leading the world in creating the energy of the future and putting Voltage Valley on the map,” Ryan said.

“These ARC Power grants are great news because they will help ensure that these entities have the resources needed to address emerging infrastructure needs, to support entrepreneurship, and to help the economic development of towns and local communities throughout Ohio,” U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said in a news release lauding the $6.3 million awarded to communities around Ohio.   

Added ARC co-chairwoman Gayle Manchin: “Many of the projects we announced today will invest in educating and training the Appalachian workforce, nurturing entrepreneurship, and supporting infrastructure. … These investments in our Appalachian coal-impacted communities are critical in leveling the economic playing field so our communities can thrive.”

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.