CARES act grant counties

Clockwise, from left, Fulton, Lucas, Ottawa and Wood counties.

BGSU receives $555,000 CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant

Grant will help develop workforce strategy, recovery plan for northwest Ohio

Bowling Green State University was awarded a $555,000 Economic Development Administration (EDA) CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant on April 29.

The project will be matched with $141,536 in local funds, including $100,000 from JobsOhio, to develop a workforce strategy and recovery plan for a four-county region that includes Lucas, Wood, Ottawa and Fulton counties in northwest Ohio.

“The Biden Administration is committed to providing our communities with the resources they need to build booming regional economies,” Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said. “These EDA investments support northwest Ohio’s efforts to build critical infrastructure for growing logistics needs and develop plans for a strong workforce.”

“Through targeted investments in infrastructure and workforce, Ohio will continue to move forward on the path of recovery and emerge strong from the pandemic,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said.

BGSU’s Center for Regional Development (CRD) and the Regional Growth Partnership of Northwest Ohio (RGP) have been working together for close to a year in anticipation of the grant. In addition, students in the Allen W. and Carol M. Schmidthorst College of Business have the opportunity to work with the center and contribute to public good.

The award was part of an overall grant from the EDA, awarding $3.15 million in CARES Act Recovery Assistance grants to help the state of Ohio prevent, prepare for and respond to coronavirus.

The Wood County Port Authority in nearby Rossford received a $2.6 million EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant to make roadway, water and sewer infrastructure improvements needed to increase the capacity of connector roads and support local logistics and delivery operators in Wood and Lucas counties. The project, to be matched with $1.7 million in local funds, is expected to create more than 1,000 jobs, retain 64 jobs and attract $205.5 million in private investment.

“These funds will provide the northwest Ohio region with additional tools and resources to address the economic fallout from COVID-19,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) said. “Not only will this investment build up local infrastructure, but it will develop programs to help Ohioans find good paying jobs.”

“These grants totaling $3.15 million are great news for northwest Ohio,” Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) said. “Provided through the CARES Act, these grants will help our workforce in Lucas, Wood, Ottawa and Fulton counties that have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic by providing them with the resources they need to continue to build a strong, local infrastructure. These grants will also support local efforts to retain and create jobs. I was proud to support the CARES Act last year, and I am glad to see that it continues to help local communities while we work to overcome this crisis and get back to normal.”

“In order to ensure our communities can thrive and grow, it is essential our neighborhoods, state and country can rebound from the setbacks caused by the coronavirus pandemic,” U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green) said. “I am pleased Wood County Port Authority and Bowling Green State University will be receiving funds provided through the CARES Act, which I supported last year in the House of Representatives, to support their efforts to rebuild and recover from the pandemic that has impacted the way Ohioans live and work.”

Regional Growth Partnership of Northwest Ohio’s Joe Luzar leads the Northwest Ohio Workforce Initiative.

“The workforce side is a really hard environment to work in, but there's a lot of really innovative programs and people who are doing great work,” Luzar said. “The idea is to take what's working well and try to not reinvent the wheel, but just try to highlight those best practices and spread them across the region in a plan that does that. One of the key things that we don't have in the region is a set of metrics by which we're measuring what's working well and what isn't working well.”

The plan is to develop a set of metrics first and then develop a plan, said Dr. Russell Mills, senior director of CRD.

“Often when you do a plan you say, well, how are we going to measure what we did?” Mills said. “In this case, it's, really, we're going to figure out what to measure first, to know if we're moving the needle on workforce development and then build a plan to do those things that impact those metrics in a positive direction.”

It's an all-encompassing strategy, according to Luzar.

“The key part is, we have to have all of the partners on board,” he said. “It's really part of a broader initiative that's going on through the Communities of Excellence initiative —a group of business and government leaders who came together and said we want to be recognized as a community of excellence.”

“The Communities of Excellence initiative, part of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, identifies the best communities in the U.S. that work together, share best practices, and identify challenges to improve health status, educational attainment and economic outcomes,” Mills said. “There's a whole host of criteria they have, but it's really to sort of go through this process to be recognized as one of those communities. And one of the ways you do that is through coordinating on things like this project on workforce development, for instance.

Another key component of the project is efficiency.

“We have a lot of people working really hard on a lot of different initiatives, and we just want to align everything so people and the region are being efficient,” Luzar said. “We just want to make sure everyone is on the same page and we're sending out a consistent message to our businesses and our people.”

These projects are funded under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (Public Law 116-136), which provided EDA with $1.5 billion for economic assistance programs to help communities prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus. EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance, which is being administered under the authority of the bureau’s flexible Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) program, provides a wide range of financial assistance to eligible communities and regions as they respond to and recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Media Contact | Michael Bratton | mbratto@bgsu.edu | 419-372-6349