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Commissioners award $2.5M

Established revolving loan with ARP funds

YOUNGSTOWN — The Mahoning County commissioners Thursday awarded almost $2.5 million of the county’s $44 million in American Rescue Plan funds to Mahoning Valley Partners and to Meridian Healthcare.

The $2 million Valley Partners received will be used to create a revolving loan fund for Mahoning County businesses. The $453,000 awarded to Meridan Healthcare will enable it to improve its facility on West Chalmers Avenue on the South Side.

The awards were approved at the commissioners regular weekly meeting in the courthouse.

The purpose of American Rescue Plan funding is to help communities across the country rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Theresa Miller, Valley Partners executive director, said the $2 million will be used to make loans of up to $100,000 at low interest rates for a short term.

“The interesting part about that is we lend it out. And as they pay it back, we can relend it out, so the program will revolve in perpetuity and will still be here in 40 years from now helping those that need it, even though they may or may not have been affected by COVID,” Miller said.

Anna DeAscentis, the county’s grant manager, who also assists the commissioners with the various federal stimulus programs, said the $2 million is estimated to create or save about 80 jobs “and then in perpetuity it could be — Who knows?”

DeAscentis said the loans can help a business stay open or expand, “whatever they need.”

Miller said businesses can apply on the Valley Parters website, just as they did during the earlier loan programs.

In 2020, Valley Partners disbursed 356 small business grants in Mahoning County totaling $3.35 million in stimulus funds allotted to the county commissioners. The organization also funded 280 forgivable Payroll Protection Program loans totaling $7.7 million.

The funds will “generally be made to existing small businesses, which are defined as for-profit businesses with annual sales of $1 million or less or otherwise meeting the U.S. Small Business Administration’s definition as a small business,” according to a fact sheet Miller provided.

The business must provide documentation to prove at least one of the following in order to show the adverse effect COVID-19 had on their business:

• A turndown letter from a financial institution;

• Proof of revenue reduction. If reduction is 10 percent to 24 percent, the borrower is eligible for up t a $50,000 loan. If the reduction is 25 percent or higher, the borrower is eligible for up to a $100,000 loan.

• Certain North American Industry Classification System Industry Codes determined by SBA to be underserved markets.

Meridian Healthcare on Thursday was awarded $453,760 to continue the renovations and upgrades to a former nursing home that is now a Meridian facility at 550 West Chalmers Ave. near Glenwood Avenue.

The facility has 56 permanent rooms for housing for people formerly homeless and people suffering from addiction and mental health issues. It has 10 beds for homeless veterans, 16 beds for people who need 24-hour detoxification, 16 beds for men going through inpatient treatment and 16 beds for women going through inpatient treatment.

It also has the only primary medical care practice in the neighborhood, said Larry Moliterno, Meridian president and chief executive officer. Meridian also partners with Mercy Health to provide a center for pregnant women struggling with mental health issues.

Moliterno said: “We’ve been working to support that neighborhood. So it will be used to update a lot of our safety features, a lot of our furniture and the air system to make sure it is safer.” The project is expected to be complete in the spring.

The county earlier awarded Meridian $70,000 in CARES Act funding in August to help with the Chalmers upgrades.

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