State money coming to Mahoning Valley community projects

COLUMBUS (WYTV) – Ohio lawmakers are now working on a capital improvements budget and some of the money will be heading to the Mahoning Valley.

The community projects in the capital budget this year address the quality of life Ohioans expect to have through the arts and culture or simply by combating our opiate epidemic.

The portion of the capital budget that is set aside for community projects is the smallest, but it’s just as important as the others, according to Tim Keen, the director of the Office of Budget Management.

“The cultural and historic projects, the parks projects, the recreation projects, those are important to the quality of life that Ohioans really enjoy,” he said.

Keen said the projects have an economic impact, attracting development that is direly needed.

“It’s a chance for us to invest in the communities throughout Ohio and for the rural communities, it’s extremely important because we don’t have a lot of large companies to make those investments,” Rep. Ryan Smith said.

In total, Youngstown State could get another $8 million from the capital improvements budget.

Among the projects that could get funded is the Mahoning Valley Innovation and Commercialization Center at Youngstown State University — up to $4 million. The physical therapy program in Cushwa Hall could get $2 million for a renovation and expansion. Nearly $2 million in improvements could come to Ward Beecher and a $1.5 million renovation to the Wick Avenue pedestrian bridge could be in the works.

Outside of YSU, a fire training center and healthcare training center in Mahoning County could also see nearly $500,000.

“That, in turn, is going to imbue some great things in the future for commercialization and innovation for job training for the entire Mahoning Valley,” Rep. Michael O’Brien said.

Not everyone is happy about what’s in the budget. The Buckeye Institute, for instance, said a lot of the community projects are good to have but it questioned whether they’re needed.

The hearings on the capital budget bill are expected to continue for the next few weeks. It will need to be passed before April 1.