July 2, 2016

Mostly clear

Commissioner Steve Hambley to head area collaboration group

MEDINA — Steve Hambley is taking on another leadership role.

As county commissioner, he represents about 172,000 residents of Medina County. As chairman of the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium’s board of directors, he’ll be heading a group that focuses on collaboration among 12 counties with about 3.8 million residents.



Hambley said he’s excited about the additional role, especially since it involves working with Medina County’s neighbors.

“I think it’s important for us to continue our regional perspective. More than half the (county residents) who are working work outside the county every day. We’re connected,” he said. “When we can work together, it makes government more efficient and we’ll be looking for that.”

The consortium is a nonprofit formed last year after the region received a $4.25 million U.S. Housing and Urban Development grant. The nonprofit Fund for Our Economic Future gave a $500,000 grant.

The Northeast Ohio Sustainable Community Consortium expect to use that money over the next three years to create a regional sustainability plan that will look at issues such as economic development, equitable housing, land use, transportation and infrastructure. The focus is having communities work together to meet those needs.

Hambley said all the communities throughout the region are going to play a role in making the plan happen.

“You have to have the communities identify (the projects). We can’t identify that for them. So you can see it’s a complicated plan,” he said.

About 40 members sit on the board, representing the region’s counties, metropolitan planning organizations and its largest cities.

Hunter Morrison, director of campus planning and community partnerships at Youngstown State University, who will serve as program director, said he’s excited to have Hambley leading the board.

“Steve has played a leadership role on the front lines of these issues for several years,” he said in a statement.

Hambley said his role on the board will allow him to draw attention to Medina County’s needs.

For example, as a member of the Housing Network of Medina County, he said he knows there’s a need for housing for seniors and the disabled in Medina County.

“Here’s a way that we can actually try to help shape where the money goes, try to shape programs,” he said.

He also said he can give other communities the good ideas Medina County already has been working on, such as Medina Creative Housing’s greenhouse that has residents growing vegetables for local restaurants and schools.

“There’s an example we can share throughout the region,” he said.

Contact Maria Kacik Kula at (330) 721-4049 or mkacik@medina-gazette.com.