Norfolk Southern Announces $500K Grant for East Palestine

ATLANTA – On the six-month anniversary of the catastrophic Norfolk Southern Corp. train derailment that forced evacuations in East Palestine, Ohio, the corporation announced the award of a $500,000 grant to the village.

The funds will be used to hire an independent, private-sector economic development consultant as part of the corporation’s efforts to address the aftermath of the Feb. 3 disaster.

The consultant will be hired by and work for the village, Norfolk Southern said in a Thursday afternoon news release.

“As I’ve met with members of the community over the past six months, many have expressed interest in a long-term economic development strategy for East Palestine. We continue to take their direction on how we can help the community thrive,” Norfolk Southern President and CEO Alan H. Shaw said. “These funds will allow the village to hire a professional economic development consultant and create a plan to support long-term prosperity.”

The consultant and village leaders will focus on helping the community to develop and implement an economic development strategy. Initiatives will include:

  • Engaging with community and business leaders.
  • Assessing the current state of the village’s economy.
  • Setting achievable economic development goals.
  • Helping the village implement a plan to foster and support economic growth.

The village will provide further information about the economic development role in the coming weeks, according to the release.

In addition, the Ohio Department of Development announced eligible businesses can now access the application for the East Palestine Emergency Support Program.

The program can provide zero percent interest, forgivable loans to businesses to assist with ongoing expenses and recovery efforts associated with the train derailment. For-profit and nonprofit Ohio businesses located within a 2-mile radius of East Palestine that were operational on or prior to Dec. 1, 2022, are eligible to apply for loans ranging from $10,000 to $1 million.

Funds will be eligible for forgiveness if used for payroll, employee benefits, rent or mortgage payments, utility expenses, worker protections related to the train derailment and inventory replacement expenses associated with the train derailment. 

Businesses can now view, complete and save their application; official submission of applications will begin at 10 a.m. Aug. 24. Funding through the program will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. In total, $5 million in loans will be available.

Additional details on the program are available HERE.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.