STEUBENVILLE – A grant worth nearly $ 1 million will help ministries of urban missions help residents in the area.
The $ 980,374 award announced Thursday was part of the Appalachian Regional Commission’s $ 46.4 million in Opportunity and Workforce Partnerships and Economic Revitalization grants.
“It’s really exciting,” Reverend Ashley Steele, executive director of the Urban Mission, said after learning that the organization had secured the three-year grant that will include renovations to Seventh Street Plaza.
This money will be used to create Fresh Start, a workforce development program for underemployed or recovering people. It will target six counties in Ohio and two counties in West Virginia and will offer, according to Urban Mission officials, a comprehensive approach to workforce development, including practical skills and empowerment courses. , educational opportunities and on-site professional training programs.
Urban Mission’s purchase of the plaza, located on Seventh Street between Washington and North Streets, was completed almost two years ago.
The complex, which once housed the Treasure Island department store and Kroger and Save-A-Lot grocery stores, is home to several businesses as well as the mission’s Urban Thrift and Opportunity Center. The purchase included 2 1/2 acres of land that officials plan to use for a community vegetable garden project.
Part of the money awarded Thursday will be used to begin renovations to the old grocery store. Steele said work on the project could begin immediately.
“The Fresh Start program brings together a unique mix of stakeholders to meet local and regional needs associated with workforce development. Through this project, the urban mission serves as a bridge between participants, community colleges, businesses, agencies and the public, responding to specific employment needs, using a holistic and integrated approach ”, Steele added.
The initial renovations will include the creation of two community classrooms, an industrial-sized training kitchen, a cash restaurant, a daycare, a fresh produce market and a space for business incubation. Further renovations will take place as future funding becomes available.
The project is expected to help renovate 28,500 square feet of vacant space, create three new businesses and 10 new jobs, retain 23 jobs and help 20 businesses and 350 interns.
Additional program support is provided by the Appalachian Governor’s Office and the Esther Simmons Charitable Trust.
The POWER grants are part of a congressional-funded initiative that directs federal resources to help communities and regions that have been affected by job losses in coal mines, coal-fired power plant operations and supply chain industries linked to coal due to economic developments in power generation.
“The downturn in the coal industry has had an impact on the Appalachian economies. That’s why ARC’s POWER initiative is helping leverage regional partnerships and collaborations to support efforts to create a more vibrant economic future for coal-affected communities, ” said Gayle Manchin, federal co-chair of the CRA. “Many of the projects we announced today will invest in educating and training the Appalachian workforce, developing entrepreneurship and supporting infrastructure, including broadband access. These investments in our communities affected by Appalachian coal are essential to level the playing field in the economy so that our communities can thrive. “
A total of 57 projects in 184 coal-affected counties received funding. The ARC’s footprint covers 420 counties in 13 states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
“These ARC POWER grants are great news as they will help ensure these entities have the resources to meet emerging infrastructure needs, support entrepreneurship, and assist in the economic development of cities and local communities in Ohio. “, said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.
The Urban Mission Grant was one of 10 presented in Ohio. Other awards included $ 1.5 for the Washington Electric Cooperative for broadband development; $ 1,493,716 to the Outdoor Recreation Council of Appalachia for investments in community trail and gate assets; $ 1,314,800 to the Ohio Switzerland School District for Workforce Development; $ 445,158 to Belmont College for HVAC training; $ 404,856 to the local Noble School District for Agribusiness Focused Workforce Development; $ 50,000 to the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments for a regional public services strategy; $ 50,000 to Morgan County Commissioners for Broadband Asset Mapping; $ 50,000 to Struthers for a strategic green manufacturing plan; and $ 50,000 to the University of Cincinnati-Clermont for the development of regional training plans in supply chain and logistics.
“I am very happy to support these economic investments in eastern and southeastern Ohio,” said U.S. Representative Bill Johnson R-Marietta. “This funding will support projects designed to create jobs and stimulate economic activity by investing in the deployment of broadband, recreational opportunities and workforce training. This is further proof that the work of the Appalachian Regional Commission to bring much-needed investment funds to our region is vital to the economic opportunities here. I am proud to continue to support the CRA.
Fresh Start’s training and employment partners include Eastern Gateway Community College, West Virginia Northern Community College, Parkhurst Dining, Wal-Mart Distribution Center, Fraspada Co. and Crawford Construction.
Community partners include Jefferson County Jobs and Family Services, Department of Family Services (West Virginia), Jefferson County Adult Probation Department and Adult Drug Court, Coleman Health Services, CRN Healthcare Inc., Family Recovery, Jefferson County Community Action Council, Brooke Hancock Resource Network, ALIVE Shelter, Southeast Ohio Legal Services, Jan Yabs, and the Jefferson County Community Prevention and Recovery Council.
Public support also came from OMEGA; Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Jefferson County Commissioners; the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce; Steubenville City Manager Jim Mavromatis; Steubenville Mayor Jerry Barilla and Weirton Mayor Harold Miller.