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YOUNGSTOWN – Three major economic development groups in the Mahoning Valley made presentations to Mahoning County commissioners on Thursday for spending part of the county’s $ 44 million in US bailout funds.
Two of the presentations – from the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber and Valley Economic Development Partners – were similar to those they gave to Trumbull County commissioners on Tuesday.
But the Western Reserve Port Authority has offered Mahoning County commissioners something different than the $ 673,000 the authority seeks to complete the extension of sanitary sewer lines at Youngstown Warren Regional Airport, run by the port authority.
Sarah Lown, the authority’s public finance officer, on Thursday proposed three projects with a total cost of $ 5.25 million, including $ 2.5 million to continue to develop the county care campus at 4891 E. County Line Road, Austintown.
The Port Authority and County Commissioners have teamed up to take over the facility after the former Youngstown Development Center vacated the facility. Some of the organizations that use it include Flying High, Head Start, Compass Family and Community Services, Alta Behavioral Health, Easter Seals, and Potential Development.
Lown said the authority had studied the rules for using rescue funds and found that the money could be used for “outreach services and services for access to physical and behavioral health, primary care and preventive medicine “.
The proposal to improve the Campus of Care is to “strengthen our behavioral health care services and facilities due to the additional needs of the COVID pandemic,” she said.
One of the many ways the funding would be used on campus is improving roads and parking areas and upgrading safety on Countyline Road. “It has to be done someday. Maybe now is the time to do it, ”Lown said.
In the building where Compass Family and Community Services are located, the authority would like to transform it into a Medicaid-eligible facility, requiring upgrades such as water and sewer upgrades and private bathrooms in each of the suites, she declared.
Further improvements would involve upgrading the campus greenhouse area to the Grow Urban Farm operated by Flying High Inc. Grow Urban Farm provides employment services and fresh vegetables, helping people living in food deserts to access to quality products, according to the Flying High website. .
A second request for $ 2.5 million relates to the economic development of the county’s “business districts”. This would involve “each of the townships, each of the villages outside of Youngstown and would help each of them to select a commercial site in which we can put all our energy: improve the facade, demolish one of the buildings”, a- she declared. .
This would involve the Mahoning County Land Bank, which would use funds to carry out demolitions, Lown said.
“You go through every township, every village and you see a run down property dragging everyone down and then you see a few other struggling businesses,” Lown said.
Nick Chrétien, program manager for the nonprofit Economic Action Group, then joined Lown to discuss several census tracts outside of Youngstown that are eligible for assistance, such as one in the north of Boardman Township and Struthers and Campbell.
“Investments can be a little easier in these areas,” he said. One goal is to rebuild neighborhood business districts that have been hit by foreclosures, online retailers and “big box stores with delivery services they can offer at a reduced cost,” he said. -he declares.
The latest request is $ 250,000 to set up a website to market economic development services to all of its partners and showcase Mahoning County’s assets to business investors.
Sarah Boyarko, chief operating officer at Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber, asked Mahoning County for the same $ 800,000 that was requested from Trumbull County Commissioners to expand the chamber’s EMERGE program which provides one-on-one assistance to businesses that continue to struggle due to COVID-19[FEMININE[FEMININE
And Theresa Miller, executive director of Valley Partners of Liberty Township, called on Mahoning commissioners to continue the work done during the pandemic by providing small businesses with funds to meet the challenges of the pandemic.
Valley Partners is asking $ 1 to $ 2 million to create a revolving credit fund.
In 2020, Valley Partners made 356 grants to small businesses in Mahoning County, for a total of $ 3.35 million in stimulus funds allocated to county commissioners. The organization also funded 280 Payroll Protection Program repayable loans for a total of $ 7.7 million.
Subsequently, Commissioner Anthony Traficanti said he was “at the start of the process” of spending his $ 44 million, and the commissioners had three years to use the money. “We want to make sure the community gets its money’s worth. There must be a lot more discussion. There are things that I like. “