By MARIA KACIK | Staff Writer
When President Obama signed the stimulus package last week, he opened the gates for $787 billion to be flooded throughout the nation in hopes of reviving the economy. Several communities and organizations are racing to get some of those funds for projects in Medina County.
As of Wednesday, Ohioâ€™s stimulus Web site, Recovery.Ohio.gov., shows 8,398 proposals for projects totaling $24.1 billion have been submitted statewide to receive some of the $8.2 billion in stimulus money rationed for Ohio. Of those projects, 121 originate in Medina County and total $218 million.
So far, area applicants include each of the countyâ€™s three cities, two townships, some county boards and several businesses and nonprofits.
â€œThis is all weâ€™ve been doing,â€ Brunswick City Manager Bob Zienkowski said last week of the application process for the stimulus money. He said he and other city officials have spent some late nights at city hall putting together applications.
â€œThis is a one-time opportunity and you spend whatever time you got to get this data and information together,â€ Zienkowski said. â€œIf youâ€™re fortunate and successful in some of these areas, thatâ€™s great.â€
The stimulus package offers more than 60 different pools of money that are being granted to projects that focus on areas like infrastructure, health care, technology and energy. Businesses and local governments can submit proposals for this money at Recovery.Ohio.gov.
â€œTheyâ€™re just looking to put together a list of projects,â€ explained Lodi Mayor Dan Goodrow, whose community has submitted seven applications. â€œIf your project meets their criteria, youâ€™ll get an application to turn inâ€ to the state.
In the online proposal submission, applicants are requested to list how many jobs the project will create, how much it is expected to cost and how much stimulus money they are requesting. They then write a 1,200 character description of the project and choose a category under which the project falls.
The state has not revealed how long the Web site will be accepting proposals.
â€œBut that may change,â€ the Web site reads. â€œWe are monitoring each federal program’s deadlines as they become available. Because some funds are on a very fast-track, we encourage those who may be interested in applying for funds to complete a (proposal) form as soon as possible.â€
â€œWeâ€™ve heard that this would be the largest investment in Americaâ€™s infrastructure ever,â€ county Commissioner Sharon Ray said.
The county sanitary engineerâ€™s office submitted several infrastructure projects for sewers and waterlines.
Medina, Brunswick and Wadsworth have submitted proposals to address infrastructure issues such as roads, water towers and pump stations.
Several local governments have submitted proposals for the construction of fire stations.
â€œWeâ€™re hearing this is the first time (the federal government) is offering brick and mortar money for fire departments,â€ said Zienkowski, whose city submitted a proposal for an $11.4 million project to replace two of Brunswickâ€™s fire stations. â€œBefore theyâ€™ve funded equipment, gear, engines, squads, but never housing for all that.â€
Wadsworth, York Township and Lafayette Township also submitted proposals for fire station construction.
Leaders throughout the county have heard that projects that are ready to begin in a short timeline are the most likely to receive funding. The federal stimulus Web site, Recovery.gov, states: â€œOne of the main goals of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is to provide quick relief to families who are hurting, and to invest in projects that will create jobs immediately,â€
Medina Mayor Jane Leaver said the city submitted every project it has ready to begin, which includes a 30,000-square-foot municipal court building and a parking deck for the county courthouse.
â€œWe have to give them everything on our project list. They will determine which ones are most economically beneficial to the region,â€ she said.
The city has proposed 16 projects for stimulus funding.
â€œWhat we feel will be most important may not be the way the selection committee sees it,â€ Leaver said.
Leaders also have heard projects that will benefit multiple agencies and communities may receive more consideration when it comes to funding. For instance, Brunswick submitted a stimulus proposal in conjunction with Medina General Hospital that would bring a 25,000-square-foot, $9 million emergency department to the city.
At a recent committee-of-the-whole meeting, Zienkowski and city council members discussed potentially partnering with other communities and organizations in submitting stimulus proposals.
â€œInstead of competing with each other over who gets to do what and when, letâ€™s communicate with each other â€¦ get the other parties to agree to jointly author applications,â€ Ward 3 Councilman Joseph Delsanter said.
Wadsworth is looking to do just that. The city has submitted 38 projects for consideration of stimulus funding. In addition, the city was part of a group that submitted a proposal asking for $20 million for the cityâ€™s $104 million community collaboration project, which brings together the city, school district, Wadsworth Public Library and Summa Wadsworth-Rittman Hospital to build a new community center.
The stimulus package isnâ€™t just about government agencies. Several businesses have submitted proposals for stimulus funding.
A Westlake firm has applied to have a new research facility constructed in Medina County. Western DataCom submitted a $3.5 million proposal for defense technical testing labs to be constructed on state Route 18, possibly in Sharon or Granger townships.
â€œIâ€™m partial to that area,â€ said Ray Yoder, chief financial officer for Western DataCom, who owns a farm in Sharon Township. â€œNot only that, but the proximity of the region to area highways, itâ€™s perfect.â€
The facility would provide testing for some of the communication systems Western DataCom produces for the Department of Defense and other government clients.
EBO Group in Sharon Township has been working since 2007 on the Triton Hybrid Drive project, which aims to create an oil-cooled electric drive module for use in buses and other commercial applications. Even though the project is still in the research phase, the company still will look to garner some stimulus money, said Jim Doutt, EBO Groupâ€™s manager of business development.
â€œWeâ€™re going to keep peeling the onion away and see if thereâ€™s money available to us,â€ he said.
But if that doesnâ€™t work, the firm will keep trying to receive funding for its â€œgreenâ€ vehicles.
â€œWeâ€™re also going the next step and meeting with congressmen and representatives from Ohio to talk to them about the project, and look at other future funding opportunities other than the stimulus package,â€ Doutt said.
He noted Obama has promised $15 billion annually to develop clean energy technology.
â€œWe feel there is opportunity there,â€ he said.
Kacik may be reached at 330-721-4049 or firstname.lastname@example.org.