Here is the summary of events from the Ohio Department of Development Meeting in Columbus hedl on January 9th.
Mahoning Valley participants:
1. Jay Williams, Mayor, City of Youngstown
2. Bill D'Avignon, Community Development and Planning Director
3. John McNally, Mahoning County Commissioner
4. Pat Lowry, Press Secretary, Office of Congressman Tim Ryan
5. Joe Schiavoni, State Senator
6. Emily McBane, State Rep. Hagan Legislative Aide
7. Pastor Michael Harrison, Union Baptist Church
8. Patricia Dougan, President, Seventh Ward Citizens Coalition
9. Councilwoman Annie Gillam, 1st Ward
10. Councilwoman Janet Tarpley, 6th Ward
11. Deb Flora, Executive Director, Lien Forward Ohio
12. Kirk Noden, Executive Director, Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative
13. Ian Beniston, Director of Policy, Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative
14. Phil Kidd, Director of Communications/Organizer, Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative
15. Robert Hagan, State Representative (via phone)
16. Joel Ratner, Raymond John Wean Foundation (via phone)
17. City of Youngstown Councilpersons DeMaine Kitchen (2nd Ward), Jamael Tito Brown (3rd Ward), Carol Rimedio-Righetti (4th Ward), John R. Swierz (7th Ward). (via phone)
State of Ohio participants:
• John Magill, Chief Strategic Officer
• William Murdock, Director, Urban Development Division
• Ian Nickey, Legislative Liaison, Governmental Relations Office
• Bill Graves, Director, Community Development Division
• Rob Schmidley, Cartographer, Policy Research and Strategic Planning
• Marvin Hayes, Director, Governor’s Office – Urban Development and Infrastructure
• Arnie Clebone, Regional Economic Development Director
• Ken Carano, Governor’s Regional Representative
• Blaine Brockman, Assistant Director, Ohio Housing Finance Agency
Pastor Michael Harrison opened the meeting by thanking the members of the State of Ohio for meeting with our group and explained the objectives that the meeting hoped to reach. These objectives included:
1.) An explanation as to why the City of Youngstown failed to receive any state discretionary NSP funding as well as an explanation in regards to the process in which that decision was made;
2.) To provide an overview of new various political, community development, and policy initiatives currently underway in the Mahoning Valley of which state officials may not have been completely aware of and which make the Mahoning Valley an area of strategic investment;
3.) To discuss additional resources/secure a meeting with Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher in Youngstown sometime in the month of February.
Pastor Harrison then gave a brief overview of MVOC whom organized the meeting and had each individual in the room introduce themselves.
After introductions were completed, the Mayor began the meeting by stating that – while displeased - he understood the rationale/restriction placed on the State regarding the lack of allocation from the State of Ohio NSP program to Youngstown. He also stated that Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher had expressed displeasure and assured the Mayor that all efforts will be made to find additional resources to assist Youngstown. Finally, the Mayor explained that we were here today to “reintroduce” Youngstown and framed the meeting by describing a number of “transformative” initiatives currently underway. Pastor Michael Harrison echoed the Mayor’s comments by saying “a new day is dawning…” in Youngstown and resources are needed to address the foreclosure and abandonment crisis which has been detrimental to city neighborhoods.
Joel Ratner spoke next and provided an overview of the Wean Foundation’s involvement in the Valley and its commitment to funding important initiatives currently underway. Joel said the philanthropic community has taken a significant role in being part of the good things happening in the community. He commented briefly on some of the major investments of the foundation to include: General grant allocation and Neighborhood SUCCESS Grant programs, the Mahoning Valley’s soon-to-be first ever community college, the MVOC, and the newly formed Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation.
Kirk Noden introduced the MVOC and discussed the significance and importance of organizing in Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley. He stated that the MVOC is focused on rebuilding and reknitting social capacity as well as providing professional policy development work. He then introduced the recently completed citywide vacant property survey and its relation to the Vacant Property Campaign as a whole. Noden ended by stating the “parts equal the sum in the Mahoning Valley”.
Patti Dougan continued the discussion of the work/investment of MVOC and Wean Foundation, respectively. She discussed the various participating block watches and grass roots institutions involved in a number of the initiatives and stated that people want to “have a voice”. People in Youngstown no longer accept the status quo and are willing to work with each other, the state, or whomever in order to get the work done that needs to be done and to receive the resources necessary to be able to effect real change.
Deb Flora discussed formulation the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation. She explained the great need for and the importance of such an organization in Youngstown and also indentified of some of the YNDC’s capabilities as well as a provided an overview regarding the timelines/details in terms of development.
Pat Lowry discussed the Congressman’s support for the various initiatives aforementioned as well as the work being conducted on the ground in the Mahoning Valley. He also brought with him a letter to the Speaker of the House sent by the Congressman and 7 other congressional leaders which seeks demolition money from the federal government as part of a federal stimulus package. Pat also discussed the Urban and Suburban Communities Regeneration Act being introduced by Congressman Ryan and six other cosponsors in the House. Pat read a section of the bill and provided copies to all State officials. He concluded by stating that the Bill should be on the house floor by the end of January or in early February.
Lee Fisher entered the meeting via telephone and said the state is committed to finding funding and “exploring ways to find funding” but that “money is tight”. The Mayor provided a follow up to Lee Fisher’s comments, again highlighting the collaboration among business, faith based, non-profit, philanthropic and public sector leaders present from the Mahoning Valley and stated that a “…a partnership is being rebirthed…”.
Bob Hagan commented via telephone that “there were no back room deals” regarding how the NSP allocation decision was made and the Strickland administration has brought forth a “sea change of politics” at the state level. Hagan continued by stating that the Lt. Governor and Governor are “eager to participate and are working feverishly..” to assist the Mahoning Valley to which Lee Fisher briefly echoed Hagan’s comments regarding the state’s commitment to urban communities. State Senator Joe Schivoni added that people are really hurting in the Mahoning Valley and that the lack of funding further damages the morale of those who live in the community and have been frustrated by continued lack of adequate previous state assistance. Kirk Noden followed highlighting again the “innovative and creative work taking place across sectors in the Mahoning Valley…” and Patti Dougan also made brief reference to the Vacant Property survey data.
Bill Graves commented on the legislation proposed by Congressman Ryan and stated that it fills the gaps left by the NSP that was developed for “hot” real estate markets. Lee Fisher finished his phone call by adding that he is willing to have a follow up conversation in Youngstown. Bill Graves said he will see the Lt.Governor’s commitment through and will come with him to the Mahoning Valley in order to have a more detailed discussion about funding opportunities. He also commented on the need for the YNDC and was very encouraged to hear that it is under development.
Commissioner John McNally expressed his thanks for the Mahoning County NSP allocation ($2.9 million) and his disappointment over the city being shortchanged. McNally made a commitment to lobby for a portion of the county’s allocation to assist the city, stating that the “city is part of the county”. McNally also discussed the National Vacant Property Campaign and the Youngstown-Mahoning County Vacant Property Initiative to include the major priorities of said initiative.
Marvin Hayes followed and answered a question by Annie Gillam’s whom asked if the state would listen to “our concerns and find money” by explaining sprawl and the problems facing urban communities throughout Ohio. Hayes continued by saying the state is “building state programming that fits the needs of urban communities…” and that the state is in a transition and is moving toward being more friendly and supportive of urban communities. He also touched on economic development and the need to stabilize neighborhoods because “quality of life equals economic development”. Bill Graves reacted to some the comments and spoke about potential state resources as did the associate director of OHFA.
Bill D’Avignon commented that Youngstown 2010 has received national and international attention and noted how the plan is “based in reality”. He went on to say, “We are not trying to build glass towers. This is about stabilizing a community. That, in essence, is the Youngstown 2010 plan. You cannot deny that Youngstown did not get what it deserved.” Bill continued with similar comments about Youngstown being shortchanged and suggested that the data used by the state was inaccurate. Joel Ratner voiced similar concern. Bill Graves responded by discussing the state’s methodology and reiterating the state’s commitment to finding additional resources in “tight and constrained times…”
Someone raised the question that should other communities whom have received an allocation not have the capacity to utilize the funding or if there is a surplus, would that money be rechanneled back to the state and redistributed to other communities of need/with capacity (i.e. Youngstown). The State said that that was a legitimate question and that they have considered creating such a review process. Janet Tarpley asked about a timeline to which the State said that they had no timeline at present but would inform us of any and all updates as discussion continues regarding looking for additional funding.
William Murdock discussed Clean Ohio funding and how it is not only a great resource for communities like Youngstown but further commented on how Youngstown is taking great advantage of the program.
Pastor Harrison thanked everyone for attending the meeting and the meeting adjourned at aprox. 4pm.
For more information please contact the MVOC at (330) 743-1196.
I also received this press release this morning.
Ohio Department of Development Meeting Summary
January 9, 2008, 2:00pm - Vern Riffe Center, Columbus, Ohio
Contact: Phil Kidd, MVOC (330) 743-1196 C (330) 519-8712 firstname.lastname@example.org
COLUMBUS – A delegation of federal, state, city and county officials as well as community and faith-based leaders organized by the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative met with state officials in Columbus this past Friday to discuss the state’s commitment in allocating additional resources to address the foreclosure and vacant property crisis in Youngstown.
The meeting was spurred by the state’s recent announcement of a zero dollar allocation to Youngstown in regards to its $116 million dollar Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
In October, Youngstown received a direct allocation of $2.7 million from Housing and Urban Development through the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of July 2008 which provides billions of dollars to cash-strapped local governments and states to acquire, demolish, or rehabilitate homes vacated due to foreclosure. In addition to direct federal funding, the State of Ohio received $116 million in discretionary funds to additionally distribute to the areas of greatest need.
In December, city and community officials submitted a formal request to the Ohio Department of Development asking for an additional $16 million, however, while Mahoning County as a whole received 2.9 million, the City of Youngstown received no specific funding from the State of Ohio’s discretionary allocation.
According to City of Youngstown Community Development Director William D’Avignon, the cost to “stabilize” the City of Youngstown is $42.9 million.
D’Avignon – who attended the meeting Friday – made specific reference to the city’s Youngstown 2010 Citywide Plan which, he noted, has received national and international attention due to its recognition and acceptance of the city’s population decline. D’Avignon noted that the plan is “based in reality” and went on to say that “(in Youngstown) we are not trying to build glass towers. (The plan) is about stabilizing a community. That is the Youngstown 2010 plan. You cannot deny that Youngstown did not get what it deserved.” D’ Avignon suggested that the foreclosure data used by the state was inaccurate and being that state officials had to adhere to a federal formula, getting that data correct was critical to the funding allocation to Youngstown.
Valley representatives also acknowledged that Friday’s meeting was not an attempt to have the state reallocate NSP funding but rather to discuss what alternative funding could be found to assist the city.
Mayor Jay Williams stated that he had been in discussions with Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher prior to the Friday’s meeting and stated the Lt. Governor expressed displeasure about the allocation and assured the Mayor that all efforts will be made to find additional resources to assist Youngstown.
Williams also explained that representatives were also here today to “reintroduce” Youngstown and added that the meeting, additionally, was an opportunity to discuss a number of “transformative” initiatives currently underway that make Youngstown a strategic investment area, largely unlike in the past. In addition to Youngstown 2010, Valley representatives outlined initiatives such as the recently released Youngstown/Mahoning County Vacant Property Initiative which includes the establishment of a county-wide land bank, establishment of professional community organizing (MVOC) and the establishment of a multi-faceted, high capacity, city-wide community development corporation (Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation) in addition to Congressman Ryan’s Urban and Suburban Communities Regeneration Act which will reach the house floor at the end of January or early in early February.
Lt. Governor Lee Fisher – who attended the meeting by telephone – reiterated that the state is committed to “exploring ways to find funding” for Youngstown and that he is willing to have a follow up conversation in the Mahoning Valley in February. William Graves, Director for Community Development for the Ohio Department of Development, said he will see the Lt. Governor’s commitment through and will come with him to the Mahoning Valley in order to have a more detailed discussion about funding opportunities.
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