First four projects of $500 million Appalachian Community Grant Program announced

The projects will receive a total of $50 million in development grants and will start construction in the next 90 days

By: - March 21, 2023 4:45 am

The first four development projects of Ohio’s $500 million Appalachian Community Grant Program were announced Monday.

The projects, which in total will receive a total of $50 million in development grants, will benefit Athens, Carroll, Columbiana, Coshocton, Gallia, Hocking, Jackson, Jefferson, Mahoning, Meigs, and Perry counties, said Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.

“New doors are opening in Appalachian Ohio, creating a new generation of opportunities,” said Lt. Governor Jon Husted. “This funding will allow these communities to think bigger and expand the scope of their local economy, making their communities more attractive to live, work and invest.”

The grant program was created last year by Husted and DeWine and provides planning and development grants for communities in Ohio’s 32-county Appalachian region. It is funded through federal Covid relief funds and is administered by DeWine’s Office of Appalachia in the Ohio Department of Development.

The application process for the grants opened in November and closed in December. A second round of applications will begin again in November.

“The projects we’re announcing today are just the beginning of the long-term, impactful change that’s in store for Ohio’s 32-county Appalachian region,” DeWine said. “There is so much potential in Appalachia Ohio, and this historic $500 million investment will help open new doors to growth, innovation, and opportunity for those living here.”

The projects will help Appalachian families, said Lydia Mihalik, director of the Ohio Department of Development.

“With improved infrastructure and access to healthcare and workforce training, these families will be able to live out their dreams in their own communities,” she said.

Each of the four projects will start construction in the next 90 days.

Connecting Communities Through Workforce Training

The Utica Shale Academy of Ohio, a high school in Salineville in Columbiana County, will receive a $2,356,417 grant to increase access to workforce training for at-risk, low-income young adults, individuals, and families impacted by substance use disorders in Columbiana, Carroll, Jefferson, and Mahoning counties.

The training will focus on heavy equipment operation, welding, industrial maintenance, robotics, 3D printing, broadband infrastructure, and diesel mechanics.

At Work in Appalachia

The City of Athens is receiving a $17,674,641 grant to revitalize 80,000 square feet of downtown space by rehabilitating six historic buildings — the Athens Armory in Athens County, Coshocton Collaborative in Coshocton County, Somerset Builders Club in Perry County, Logan Theater and Community Arts Center in Hocking County, Hocking Hills Children’s Museum in Hocking County, and Hocking Hills Chamber in Hocking County.

This will include providing rentable coworking space, business incubation centers, community gathering space and the creation and expansion of mental health services.

Turning Over a New Leaf for Appalachia Families Through Wealth, Health, and Technology

The Survivor Advocacy Outreach Program (SAOP) in Nelsonville will receive a $25,793,806 grant to create a mental health drop-in center and advocacy trauma center and expand four New Leaf Recovery Villages.

SAOP is located in Athens County and helps survivors of sexual violence, domestic violence, human trafficking, and stalking. New Leaf facilities provide housing, living wage employment, transportation, counseling, childcare and advocacy.

This grant is designed to help people in Athens, Glouster, Nelsonville, Gallipolis, and Middleport counties. The program will provide shelter and housing services, healthy food support, childcare, case management and create workforce development programs focused on transitional job programs.

Southeast Ohio Nature, Heritage, and Art Sustainable Tourism Anchor Development to Transform the Appalachian Ohio Economy

The Outdoor Recreation Council of Appalachia will receive a $4,175,136 grant to develop tourism and grow healthcare access in Athens and Meigs counties. This grant is focused on Athens, Buchtel, Nelsonville, Chauncey, Middleport, and Jackson counties.



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Megan Henry
Megan Henry

Megan Henry is a reporter for the Ohio Capital Journal and has spent the past five years reporting in Ohio on various topics including education, healthcare, business and crime. She previously worked at The Columbus Dispatch, part of the USA Today Network.