Ohio announces $420 million investment in Appalachian Region

November 9, 2023

The Ohio Department of Development has opened applications for $420 million in funds intended to bolster the local economy and improve the quality of life in 32 counties on the south and eastern edges of the state.

This is the second round of the $500 million Appalachian Community Grant Program, which state lawmakers approved in 2022. The program, administered by the Governor’s Office of Appalachia and the Ohio Department of Development, is underwritten by $500 million from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Ohio’s 32-county Appalachian region follows the Ohio River from the outskirts of Cincinnati to the edge of Cleveland. Population in the region – once the mining center of the state – has declined over the last century, with the median income lower and unemployment higher than in most of the state.

The Appalachia Community Grant Applications are an attempt by state leaders to turn those trends around. Grant applications, which are due Dec. 8, must address one of three areas:

  • Local infrastructure, such as downtown development, outdoor community space or access to telemedicine;
  • Workforce projects, such as private-public partnerships (P3s) to coordinate technical, educational and workforce resources; and
  • Healthcare projects, such as investment in community-based services, children’s behavioral services or resources to combat substance use disorder.

Lead applicants for the grant can be local governments or government-related entities as well as educational institutions or nonprofit organizations.

The first round of development grants, awarded earlier this year, provided $50 million for projects that will affect Athens, Carroll, Columbiana, Coshocton, Gallia, Hocking, Jefferson, Mahoning, Meigs and Perry counties.

For example, the city of Athens received $17.6 million to rehabilitate six historic buildings in Coshocton, Logan, Somerset and Athens. Collaborative regional planning will use the renovated 80,000 square feet of space to provide rentable coworking space and provide a business incubation center.

Photo by OHIO fan courtesy of Creative Commons

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