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Contest for funds pays off for Valley



Published: Fri, August 7, 2009 @ 12:10 a.m.

By David Skolnick

More than 13,000 people voted in the contest.

YOUNGSTOWN — The effort that went into helping a pair of Mahoning Valley government-collaborative projects finish in the money in a public vote shows the power and unity of the area, local officials said.

“This shows that we can accomplish things when we want to do it; the little dog ran a good race,” said Daniel Mamula, manager of the Mahoning River Corridor Initiative and a former Struthers mayor.

The two Valley proposals and one to create a regional fire district in portions of Cuyahoga and Lorain counties beat out the six other finalists from Northeast Ohio to share about $300,000 from the Fund for Our Economic Future.

The fund, which organized the contest to promote government efficiency and collaboration, made the announcement Thursday. Overall, 13,483 people voted in the contest last month.

“We are collaborative, we’re organized and we are committed to the entire Mahoning Valley and not just to our individual communities,” said Tony Paglia, the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber’s vice president of government affairs.

Nine communities in Mahoning and Trumbull counties will collaborate with Youngstown State University’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies to implement a Web site to market locations in those communities for economic development. This was the top project in terms of votes.

The communities are Youngstown, Warren, Niles, Girard, Struthers, Campbell, Newton Falls, McDonald and Lowellville. The project will receive $57,541 from the fund.

“The Web site would market specific economic-development sites in the nine communities,” said Mamula, who helped organize this effort. “We believe there are significant locations in the corridor being underdeveloped. Some communities can’t afford to do this by themselves.”

The Mahoning County auditor’s office, Youngstown, Boardman, Austintown and the city of Canfield will share broadband technology for law enforcement, disaster recovery and general-information technology services. The project, which finished a strong third place, will receive $120,000 from the fund.

Mahoning County Auditor Michael Sciortino, who headed the broadband initiative, said Thursday’s announcement is “a victory for the Valley. This was a public vote, and with the population in Cleveland, Akron and Canton, it is fantastic that both local projects won.”

The success shows that the Valley “is organized and a force to be reckoned with,” Sciortino said.

In the final two days of the campaign, about 750 paper votes from the area were sent to vote for the two local projects, Paglia said.

The competition “has helped to move our area in the right direction,” Paglia said. “We’re a more united Valley than we’ve ever been before, and this collaboration experience will affect the region for a long time to come.”

The Fund for Our Economic Future is “taking a hard look” at providing money for another government-collaboration contest, said David Abbott, its chairman.

The fund consists of more than 100 foundations, organizations and philanthropists in 16 counties in Northeast Ohio.

skolnick@vindy.com


WINNING PROJECTS

The two Valley proposals and one to create a regional fire district in portions of Cuyahoga and Lorain counties beat out the six other finalists from Northeast Ohio to share about $300,000 from the Fund for Our Economic Future.

Nine communities in Mahoning and Trumbull counties will collaborate with Youngstown State University’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies to implement a Web site to market areas in those communities for economic development.

The Mahoning County auditor’s office, Youngstown, Boardman, Austintown and the city of Canfield will share broadband technology for law enforcement, disaster recovery and general-information technology services.

Source: Fund for Our Economic Future


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