Goodwill gestures by the Ohio Development Services Agency and the Fulton County commissioners may open the floodgates of downtown Wauseon business owners seeking grant money to upgrade their buildings.
At a City Council meeting on Monday, Regional Planning Director David Wright reported the commissioners have approved his recommendation that a $270,000 Community Development Block Grant available for downtown revitalization projects be distributed without a 1:1 fund-matching obligation to building/business owners.
Wright said a lack of commitment by city business owners to that condition in the ODSA grant application resulted in a struggle to dispense the CDBG Allocation and Competitive Grant money. He said after voicing concerns with an ODSA representative he was informed the grant can be awarded as a 100 percent grant for eligible activities.
Wright proposed the change to the Fulton County Commissioners, who agreed. County Administrator Vond Hall said because the commissioners carry out the CDBG grant for Regional Planning an agreement also exists between the commissioners and the state where CDBG funds are involved. Hall said changing the 1:1 match condition required both state and county approval.
“By not following the program as it was applied for may cause concern from the state and hinder future competitive funding awards, but with that said, the state may see the funds not being spent as more detrimental,” Wright said on Tuesday. “Therefore, we will now be eliminating the match requirement for the grant.”
He said the lack of commitment by the business owners’ may have stemmed from their concern over whether participation in a bureaucratic funding program is worth the time, effort, and savings involved.
“I feel that folks will have more patience to work through the red tape knowing the final outcome is free upgrades and/or face lifts to their property or business,” Wright said. “Again, the interest has always been present to participate with several of the downtown building/business owners, (but) private commitment and program bureaucracy can be deterrents.
Applications from the business sector will be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis, he said.
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.