Eastgate Council hosts annual update for regional governments
By Graig Graziosi
The Eastgate Regional Council of Governments updated members and supporters of its successful projects at its luncheon at Stambaugh Auditorium.
Monday’s event featured U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, and state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, a Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate, who presented legislative updates from Capitol Hill and the Ohio Statehouse.
Jim Kinnick, the executive director of Eastgate, mentioned successful projects such as plans to demolish three of the nine dams along the Mahoning River, the continued creation of a Youngstown entertainment district with the construction of an amphitheater, construction of the West Coast Chill bottling complex on Youngstown’s East Side and the walking path from downtown Youngstown to Mill Creek Park.
“We’re hoping to have the trail designed this summer and to begin construction next summer,” Kinnick said. “As these cities and municipalities grow, you need to have that connectivity.”
Ryan began his portion of the meeting heaping praise on the area for garnering national interest over the past 18 months.
“A lot of the hard work you’re doing in our communities is beginning to pay dividends,” Ryan said.
Ryan’s report included frustration with the current administration’s priorities – such as the Trump administration’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill that requires local governments to provide 80 percent of a project’s cost if they want to qualify for government grants – as well as with the complicity he sees in his own party.
“Federal policies are making it more difficult for local governments to fund their initiatives,” Ryan said. “I’m just as mad at Democrats about it as I am Republicans.”
He advocated for more private-public partnerships to take the helm in directing revitalization efforts in de-industrialized communities and suggested distressed cities should form a coalition to better use political pressure to their benefits. Ryan warned that China has no intent on slowing its pursuit of economic dominance.
Schiavoni was similarly frustrated with the lack of investment from the state into distressed communities, decrying tax cuts put into effect by Republican Gov. John Kasich that have left local governments with fewer dollars for their general budgets.
He said he wanted to see more investment education, internet infrastructure and cleaning up brownfield sites. Schiavoni said he also wanted to create opportunities that would keep young professionals in the region.