Youngstown & Warren Mayors Announce Summit to Discuss Regional ARP Funds

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The mayors of Youngstown and Warren want to discuss with Mahoning Valley stakeholders potential uses for their American Rescue Plan funds in ways that would be transformative valleywide.  

Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown and Warren Mayor Doug Franklin met at the offices of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber to announce plans for a summit later this summer, following a planning session that will take place June 30. The two mayors asked the Regional Chamber to serve as facilitator of the summit. 

During the summit, participants will discuss a regional approach for using a portion of the approximately $250 million Valley communities will receive over the next two years through the American Rescue Plan. 

“It’s just the responsible thing to do. It would be irresponsible not to have this conversation,” Franklin said.  

Mayors Jamael Tito Brown and Doug Franklin joined the chamber’s Guy Coviello, center, to discuss the summit with the press.

At $82.8 million, Youngstown will receive the largest local share of the rescue plan funds to be awarded and Warren will get $28.7 million, the U.S Department of the Treasury announced a month ago. 

During a conversation with Guy Coviello, president and CEO of the Regional Chamber, Brown said he suggested talking with his Warren counterpart about a regional summit to determine whether there was a potential “shared opportunity where we can take the dollars we have and actually spread them across” the Valley. 

“This is a legacy opportunity,” Brown said. 

“This is a great opportunity not only for our cities and villages and townships in our respective counties, but also for our region,” Franklin agreed. “I’ve said time and time again that companies and businesses that bring jobs don’t recognize political jurisdictions or boundaries. They look at regions.” 

Coviello, who joined the mayors at the news conference, similarly acknowledged the federal funds represent “probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” for the Valley. There likely will be future funding opportunities, but those will be awarded on a competitive basis and will require collaboration and matching funds. 

“It’s nice to see you two come together, and others will follow because our cities and our counties are not the competition,” he said. “The competition is other cities around Ohio. It’s other cities around the country.”   

The summit will bring together representatives of various Valley stakeholders. The mayors already have reached out to several area municipalities, economic development entities and philanthropic organizations, Franklin said.    

“We’re looking for ideas that are transformational, that will last long beyond our generation and have a generational effect well into the future if we do it right,” Franklin said. 

The heads of the boards of county commissioners in both Mahoning and Trumbull counties also have indicated they are interested in participating, Coviello reported. The counties received their own ARP funds, and how or whether they might be combined with the funds from the cities for a joint initiative “will be part of the conversation,” Franklin noted.  

“It stands to reason that everybody should chip in a little bit and do something that benefits all,” Coviello said. 

Also being invited to the summit are representatives of JobsOhio, the private corporation that manages the state’s economic development efforts, he said. JobsOhio already has conducted “extensive research on how the ARP funds can be used as well as how they can be leveraged to secure additional state and federal funds. 

Both cities already are looking at how they might use the ARP funds to address their own needs.   

Warren is examining priorities in three categories, Franklin said: capital improvements, economic development opportunities and quality of life. 

Workforce training and business assistance are important, and Warren needs “a transportation system that can get people out to the jobs,” many of which are located outside the city, he said. 

Priorities Youngstown stakeholders have expressed include improving parks and roads, Brown said. Like Franklin, he said having a ready workforce is important, but so is having sites available and ready for companies that are looking for locations. 

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.