To quote a consultant I work with…"Times must be tough in Ohio when there is free money left on the table" for redevelopment.
Today, the Clean Ohio Council met to evaluate the project proposals for Round 5 of the Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund. There was $17 million in grant funding available. In the previous 4 rounds, CORF was so competitive many projects were left without funding. As perhaps an indication of the economy, Round 5 was the first time ever all of the money available was not awarded.
Here is the typical process at the meetings where the Clean Ohio Council makes its decisions about which projects to fund- There is a brief presentation made to the Council about each project. The Council can asked questions to better understand the project or raise concerns. After the presentations, the members of the Council vote on the project and each project receives an overall score. The Council breaks for lunch and afterward the Staff of the Ohio Department of Development reveal which projects will get funded.
I used to sit on the Clean Ohio Council and experienced very competitive grant rounds where a number of projects did not get funded. Due to the time and effort to put a application together, you could hear the audible sighs in the audience from those left out of the money. No such sighs were heard today….
At today’s meeting, Council broke with tradition and did not even bother scoring all the projects. The total request for all eligible projects was only $12 million of the $17 million available. Therefore, the Council simply passed a resolution to award all eligible projects the funding they requested.
I worked on one of the projects that was selected for award. The project is a great story of a closed manufacturing site getting cleaned up and returned to productive use. The Clean Ohio program has had many success stories like this in the years it has been operating. I hope the next round of funding sees renewed interest, it would be a shame to leave "free" redevelopment money on the table that could be put to good use.