By DAVID SKOLNICK
A Mahoning County project to create a land-bank program finished No. 1 among 10 projects vying for a portion of $330,000 from an organization that promotes regional collaboration in Northeast Ohio.
The project, coordinated by Lien Forward Ohio, involves land banking in Youngstown, Austintown, Struthers and Campbell. The grant is for $61,420. The project costs $76,775.
The Fund for Our Economic Future announced the results of a public vote among the finalists Wednesday. About 15,000 people participated in the voting process.
The Fund consists of more than 100 foundations, organizations and philanthropists from 16 counties in Northeast Ohio.
“We in the Mahoning Valley have brought together our various networks of colleagues, friends, employees and families to support worthwhile local government collaborative projects and brought a substantial amount of money to the area,” said Tony Paglia, the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber’s vice president for government affairs. He assisted in the campaign to get out the vote for local projects.
The Fund for Our Economic Future is providing money to the top three vote-getters, as well as to a group of smaller communities to digitally map water and sewer lines in parts of five counties, including Columbiana.
That project will receive $100,000 from the fund. The project’s cost is $149,269.
Finishing in fourth place, and just one spot out of the money, is a Trumbull county geographical-information system proposal.
That project would have provided computer upgrades and equipment for emergency 911 services for various county departments and the cities of Niles and Warren.
In second was a Stark County 911 dispatch center consolidation. In third was a solar panel project in Cleveland and some of its surrounding suburbs.
“We are encouraged to see a growing number of residents calling for more local government collaboration,” said Brad Whitehead, president of the Fund. “It is clear that the public expects local governments to collaborate and, increasingly, local officials are making collaboration the norm, not the exception.”
Two Valley projects were among the three funded last year.
The organization may hold a similar contest next year, Whitehead said