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Sharon Directs Nearly $500K in ARPA Funds to Businesses

SHARON, Pa. – Expansion of the Hope Center for Arts & Technology, façade improvements for Buhl Mansion and Sharon City Plaza and money for new businesses were among the projects the city of Sharon approved Wednesday. 

City Council voted to allocate $472,500 in grants from its American Rescue Plan Act money, the fourth such allotment of the funds.  So far, the city has allocated more than $3.4 million in ARPA money to assist businesses. 

“With this fourth round, we are funding six projects to keep moving the city’s revitalization progress forward,” City Manager Bob Fiscus said in a news release announcing the grants. “With this round of ARPA funds, we are really focused on choices that will attract foot traffic to our downtown and to help build up our current businesses along with attracting new ones.”

The Hope Center, more popularly known as HopeCAT, received $200,000 to add emergency medical technician and first responder training, with the potential to develop a police academy. The grant will pay for renovations, classroom equipment and the hiring of additional staff.  

“We are thankful for the investment by the city of Sharon to develop our facility and expand our programming through our youth and adult training programs,” Amy Atkinson, HopeCAT board chairwoman, said.

 “The ARPA monies will allow us to deepen our impact and positively affect the lives of the students and families we serve,” Tom Roberts, HopeCAT’s president and executive director, said.

Another $95,000 grant will support plans by Elephant No. 8 Thai Restaurant in Slippery Rock to open a second location in the north end of Applegate Plaza in downtown Sharon.

Owner Narintra “Nina” Gold said the Sharon location, which will be larger than the Slippery Rock restaurant, will be like “a mini getaway for visitors with bright colors, unique decorations and delicious authentic Thai food with no MSG.”

“It won’t be boring; it will be something new for our customers,” she said. “We get many customers from Sharon, Hermitage, Youngstown, Boardman, Niles and Akron – so this expansion makes sense for us.”

Another $85,000 will go to Shenango Valley Montessori Academy to repurpose the historic Perkins Mansion for the school. Funds will be spent for façade and heating/ventilation/air conditioning upgrades, electronic security and privacy fencing.

“The ARPA funds will greatly aid in the preservation of a magnificent piece of Shenango Valley heritage which, combined with the repurposing into a Montessori school, will benefit the community for generations,” Barry Marchetto, owner of the property and developer of the Montessori project, said.  “The school will bring a fresh avenue of unique education to our area and hopefully act as a magnet to attract families to our wonderful valley.”

A $50,000 grant will be used for exterior repairs to the Buhl Mansion. The work will include brick and mortar repair, restoration and painting of exterior wooden window frames, restoration of metal roof capping and all related repairs.

“We are thrilled that the city of Sharon recognizes the importance of preserving one of our city’s most important landmarks,” said Laura Ackley, general manager of the luxury inn and spa. “Buhl Mansion has attracted tens of thousands of tourists to Sharon over the years, contributing to the economic growth of the city and region.”

Benic Investment Group will use the $22,500 it was awarded to develop Unwind Spa, which will include a salt room and infrared saunas.

“We believe this project will help our community with keeping its mental and physical health in check, as well as be a more productive part of our community,” said Danielle Benic, president of the investment group, and owner of Beauty Bar on Main in Sharpsville.

D & M Realty Group will use the $20,000 it received for exterior painting of the Sharon City Plaza, which was home to Reyers Shoe Store until its move to Eastwood Mall in Niles, Ohio, last year.

“The center attracts the entire town of Sharon for shopping, especially with Save a Lot, Rite Aid, Family Dollar and other national tenants,” owner Daniel Frija said. “Sprucing up” the plaza will help fill the former Reyers space, which represents about a third of the plaza at 38,000 square feet.

“We must spruce up the center to attract other national tenants to help make Sharon vibrant again,” he added.

Molly Bundrant, president of Sharon City Council, expressed her excitement about the new revitalization projects.

“We’re just so grateful we received these funds to help our city. These projects will continue to grow our business community and continue to support citywide revitalization,” she said. 

“With this round, we are looking to make a direct impact on attracting people to the downtown, which will impact the city and its neighborhoods by that increased traffic,” Fiscus agreed. “Our goal is to make lasting changes with the awarding of the ARPA funding.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.