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Economic Development District designation proposed for Toledo region

Posted By: Toledo Blade on September 15, 2023.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

Wood, Lucas, and Ottawa counties are being asked to join forces with the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments to pursue federal grants for shared economic development projects.

At Thursday’s Wood County Commissioners meeting, TMACOG President Sandy Spang made a presentation on the progress and intent to apply to the U.S. Economic Development Administration for an economic development district designation. Wood, Lucas, and Ottawa counties would get the designation, with TMACOG taking the lead, Mrs. Spang said.

“Economic development districts are multijurisdictional entities that need public, private, and nonprofit partners to work together,” she said.

There are 400 such economic district developments in the country, Mrs. Spang said. However, there are significant gaps in the Chicago, Cleveland, and Columbus districts.

“What will it mean for us? It comes with some funding … that we’ll be needing to match,” Ms. Spang said. “There will be staffing. There will be someone who gets up every morning and is looking for ways to implement our economic development strategy plan.”

They would also be eligible to apply for grants that are currently unavailable to them, she said. A recent study by the Urban Institute shows how communities that have an economic development district designation benefit.

Mrs. Spang said that 52 percent of the U.S. population is in an economic development district, and they receive 77 percent of U.S. Economic Development Administration grant money and 79 percent of construction dollars.

“That is very compelling information, and I think that really helps make the case that we are going to benefit,” Ms. Spang said.

“This does not duplicate work that is taking place in the region right now,” she added. “This brings new tools to our region, new resources.”

Once the process is started, it can be a slow one. The Cleveland area has had its application in for a year, which is the average application time, Ms. Spang said. During that time, she said she would bring together stakeholders and start planning. She asked the commissioners for a letter of support before Sept. 29.

“Wood County has a track record of collaboration and working together. From our standpoint, it seems like it would work really well,” Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said.

Ms. Spang said that the commissioners should keep in mind that this is a time of “unprecedented funding” and it can be overwhelming for communities. TMACOG is poised to lead the collaboration, she said.

“That is my vision for TMACOG, that we be that convener for communities, bringing people together so that their applications are strong,” Ms. Spang said.

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