In February 2012 the Ohio Department of Development, Office of Community Development announced that they were suspending the downtown grants program, funded by CDBG monies. During the spring and summer of 2012, in addition to various testimony and hearings, the department put out a call for public participation to help shape the priorities for the use of dwindling CDBG appropriations. From that appeal, ten groups of eight were formed. There was a broad range of participation from elected officials, planning and community development staff, consultants, and both Joyce Barrett and Jeff Siegler from Heritage Ohio participated in separate work groups. These groups discussed the effectiveness of programs and needs of communities; how money was applied for, used and reported; what dollars were “formula” and which were grant driven; the thresholds that should be required, all within the context of the goals of and eligible activities of federal CDBG money. I think we all learned a lot about new areas.
In July the ten groups made presentations based on proposed ways to combine eliminate or create new programs. These people were genuinely interested in seeing that your limited federal tax dollars are maximized in Ohio to help low income populations and eliminate slum in blight in communities.
The recently renamed: Ohio Development Services Agency, Office of Community Development took into consideration large volumes of suggestions, sorting and combining ideas that had common themes. Their CDBG Steering Committee met again in early October to review preliminary program design. The GOOD NEWS DOWNTOWN GRANTS ARE COMING BACK! Thanks to Heritage Ohio and many advocates from around the state, we were able to make the case that rebuilding the downtowns is critical to the health of a community. We do want to leverage private sector development and create a stronger tax base through increases in income, property and sales tax. All of which happen within downtown revitalization.
Heritage Ohio extends our appreciation for the Development Services Agency mobilizing a lot of community coordination to redesign their programs so that they will be effective and get the most bang for the buck here in Ohio.
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