County ready to pursue next step toward transformational projects

BATAVIA, OH (March 15, 2023) – Clermont County is ready to receive $250,000 plus the assistance of state-procured planners to help apply for projects such as cabins or a lodge at East Fork State Park, hike/bike trail improvements and expansion, and a living history museum for Appalachia.

At the request of the Ohio Department of Development, the Ohio Controlling Board is scheduled to approve $981,975 to Clermont, Brown, Adams and Scioto counties. Clermont, Brown and Adams counties will receive $250,000 each and Scioto will get $231,975, with another $18,025 coming from a grant to mayors.

Clermont County Community + Economic Development, through the Clermont County Port Authority, helped the four-county partnership win the competitive grant available through the Appalachian Community Grant Program. The Technical Assistance Grant was the third-largest awarded out of 22.

“We’re grateful for this support as we proceed to develop transformational projects that will enhance Clermont County, the four-county region and, ultimately, Appalachia as a whole,” said Michael McNamara, Director, Clermont County Community + Economic Development. “The collaboration among Clermont, Brown, Adams and Scioto counties led to this big win for the area. We’re appreciative for the teamwork of so many city, village and township officials and non-profit leaders during this process. More than 150 projects were proposed in the four-county area.”

Community stakeholders will meet at 11 a.m. March 17 in the Clermont County Engineer’s Office to learn more about the process for getting an Ohio Department of Development procured planner.

In 2022, House Bill 377 created the program within the Ohio Department of Development’s Governor’s Office of Appalachia to administer up to $500 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to drive transformational change in the 32-county region. The program is designed to strategically invest in projects that will result in sustainable and transformational outcomes and include health care, infrastructure and workforce components.

Only local government and related entities are eligible to apply as lead applicants, but the program encourages a high level of collaboration to maximize the return on investment. Clermont County Port Authority served as the lead applicant for the four-county region.

Due to the scale and complexity of selected projects and the timeline for completion, the law permits the Director of Development to use $15 million, and up to $30 million, depending on the need for planning. Projects must be completed no later than Oct. 31, 2026.

Development’s Governor’s Office of Appalachia completed an initial review of 50 applications for Appalachian Technical Assistance Grants. Two of the 50 applications were deemed ineligible as part of the initial screening process and all applications that scored lower than the 60 point-review threshold established in the program guidelines were disqualified. A five-person review team of Development staff conducted the scoring. Each application was independently scored by two members of the review team using an established scoring rubric as a guide. Independent final scores were averaged to come up with a final score for each application and the group of scored applications was then sorted on the basis of county impact.