YOUNGSTOWN – A roundtable on Tuesday on the roughly $ 250 million in funding for the US bailout going into the Mahoning Valley looked at how the money may or may not be used.
“Much of the money from the CARES law has gone to communities without many strings attached. It is very different. Every chain is attached, “ Terrence Slaybaugh, vice president of infrastructure and sites at JobsOhio, said in a “Lunch and learn” panel presented by the Youngstown / Warren Regional Chamber.
Slaybaugh, along with Mahoning County Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti, Eastgate Council of Regional Governments Executive Director Jim Kinnick and Warren City Councilor Cheryl Saffold of D-6th Ward participated in the panel moderated by the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Regional Chamber Guy Coviello. About 90 local business and community leaders participated.
Slaybaugh called the federal bailout funds, or ARP, a “Generational opportunity” to make Ohio state stand out from other Midwestern states, but added that guidelines for the funds – which are still not fully finalized – say they are to be used specifically to help people , businesses and areas affected by COVID-19.
While the development of the workforce, site preparation and marketing of the area to make it more “competitive” were discussed during the panel, Slaybaugh said the ARP guidelines exclude the use of funds for “traditional” economic development.
“I think these funds are really restrictive”, says Rimedio-Righetti.
She said the Mahoning commissioners had worked hard to provide financial assistance to those who needed it most while following the ARP guidelines set out by the federal government.
She said community members have expressed concerns about the quality and safety of the roads, but ARP funds do not cover the roads. Some security concerns could fall under the criteria, she said.
Communities can use ARP funds to support their public health response by funding COVID-19 mitigation efforts, medical spending and behavioral health care, according to the National Association of Counties. Other uses of the funds include tackling negative economic impacts, replacing lost public or private sector income, and improving access to water, sewers and broadband infrastructure in poor areas. served.
SEIZURE AND IDEAS
Saffold said his phone had been “to take down” as residents ask questions and make suggestions for the City of Warren’s $ 28 million reduction in funds.
Saffold said the city is holding symposia so residents can give their opinion on how the money should be spent. She said the city needs to figure out how best to use the funds so that they benefit as many people as possible.
Saffold said that in his neighborhood, which experiences high unemployment and poverty rates, people want to work but cannot find public transportation.
“We need public transport in Warren” Saffold said. She said she hoped that part of the ARP funds could be used for this – although Kinnick stressed that securing public transport involves an annual fee and establishing a sustainable service.
Saffold later added that reducing the city’s high crime rate is also a priority and a worthy use of the funds.
Unlike the town of Warren, Rimedio-Righetti said Mahoning County commissioners did not hold public meetings. This does not mean that the Commissioners are not open to all ideas.
“Everyone has the right to send our office a request for help” says Rimedio-Righetti. “Whether you think it’s okay with you or not, send us something. If it’s okay and we can help, we will. “
Kinnick said at recent community meetings, Valleywide issues that have been identified include strengthening the workforce, improving broadband quality and access, and reducing brownfields.
Kinnick said he hoped communities in Trumbull and Mahoning counties could work together to use the funds to benefit the entire region.
“The areas where we have been successful are attributable to our regional vision” Kinnick said.
The Chamber’s monthly Lunch & Learn series will continue next year, according to Coviello.