YSU received a $22,758 grant for its proposed innovation and commercialization center

By David Skolnick



Youngstown State University’s proposed Mahoning Valley Innovation and Commercialization Center is receiving $22,758 from the federal government as part of President Barack Obama’s efforts to assist communities negatively impacted by changes in the coal industry and power sector.

The White House announced Wednesday a total of $38.8 million for 29 economic and workforce development projects in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, Alabama and Texas as part of a competitive grant program.

The largest was $7.4 million to help launch the Kentucky College of Optometry at the University of Pikeville in Pikeville, Ky.

The YSU grant was the second-smallest grant awarded and is coming from the Appalachian Regional Commission. The smallest grant of $10,000 went to a program to help displaced coal miners in Morgantown, W.Va.

But $22,758 is the exact amount of money YSU sought, said Michael Hripko, the university’s associate vice president for research.

“It’s technical assistance and pays for personnel to do some outreach and data collection so we can build a better case for the advanced manufacturing center,” he said. “This will help collect the data we need to show the center is needed.”

The work will be finished by November.

The YSU grant will go toward analyzing and developing a plan for the innovation and commercialization center, and the project is expected to serve 14 counties in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, according to the White House.

The $40 million proposal would combine the business community with YSU, Eastern Gateway Community College and area career and technical centers, providing access to advanced manufacturing technology.

The proposed center received $3 million from the state in the Ohio capital budget earlier this year. It had asked for $13 million.

“We’re trying to leverage the state money to obtain other grants,” Hripko said.

The federal funding will come from 10 federal agencies, and is intended to assist communities and workers affected by job loss in the coal mining, coal power plant operations and coal-related supply chain industries because of the changing economics of the nation’s energy sector, according to the White House.

The money, the White House wrote, is to diversify the commercial and industrial base of local and regional economies, create jobs in new and established industries, attract new sources of private and public investment, and provide a range of workforce services and skills training for high-quality, in-demand jobs.

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