Lordstown Logistics Project Doesn’t Get Federal Grant

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The lead applicant for approximately $25 million in federal transportation funds for a proposed logistics hub in Lordstown is disappointed that the grant request was rejected but plans for explore other funding options.

Regional partners led by Eastgate Regional Council of Governments sought the funds for the Logistics Innovation and Vehicle Electrification – or Live – Zone initiative. It was not among the 166 projects that the U.S. Department of Transportation funded through the latest round of its Raise – Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity grant program.

The attempt was the third for such a project to receive federal funding, said Jim Kinnick, Eastgate executive director.

Another Eastgate-led initiative secured more than $10 million – on its third attempt for federal funding – from DOT’s Build grant program to support nearly $28 million in downtown Youngstown street upgrades.

“We’ll move forward,” said Kinnick. “We’ll debrief with DOT and see if it’s worthy enough to put in for the next round of funding or should we chase other opportunities through the Department of Energy, through [the Appalachian Regional Commission] or other opportunities. But we’ll do our homework for sure. We’re disappointed but we’re going to keep pushing forward. We know we have a rock-solid plan and a rock-sold project and we’re going to make it happen.”

The grant awards were announced Thursday.

Kinnick said Friday afternoon his agency was privy to the list of projects that were approved, which did not include Eastgate’s submission. DOT typically does not notify unsuccessful applicants.

“We’re disappointed but we do recognize that it’s a very competitive process,” he said.

Eastgate applied for the funds in April to support projects in the Lordstown area that would capitalize on opportunities in the emerging logistics and electric vehicle space. Eastgate and its local partners sought funds for initiatives such as an automated transfer yard, electric vehicle charging stations, “smart” corridor and micro-mobility transit to help connect workers to jobs in Lordstown.

Local partners included the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, Western Reserve Port Authority, Ohio Turnpike and Ohio Department of Transportation.

Options Eastgate will now consider are breaking the Live Zone initiative down into individual components and getting funding through separate sources, Kinnick said.

One factor that hurt the application is that the regional strategic plan Eastgate is developing is only half compete. The plan should be complete sometime this fall, he s said.

“Even as we develop a strategic plan, we’ve looked for opportunities to break it into smaller sections, so that we can move forward with our project,” he continued. “We will look for other funding sources to break this up into smaller projects and have an implementation plan to continue to move forward.”

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio, both expressed disappointment at the rejection of the local application.

Brown, D-Ohio, said he believed in Eastgate’s Live Zone proposal and sent a letter of support for the application in March.

“I’m working to make sure Ohio gets its fair share – or more – of federal investments. I supported the proposal with the Department of Transportation this time and will work with the community to support it again if they decide to apply in the future,” he said

In a statement, Ryan said, “I have always advocated and fought to bring federal funds back to this region for critical transportation and infrastructure projects, including over $10 million for the city of Youngstown for a Build grant in 2018. While I’m disappointed Eastgate’s Live Zone project was not selected this year, I will continue to strongly urge leaders at USDOT and the White House to release more grant opportunities from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that I helped pass in Congress.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.