Hundreds of local people interested in rebuilding the economy instead of complaining about it gathered today for two sessions organized by Gov. Ted Strickland and State Sen. Eric Kearney (D-Avondale) to explain Ohio’s portion of the federal stimulus package. Besides Strickland aides, representatives from the Ohio Department of Development, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Ohio Department of Administrative Services, Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio Benefit Bank were on hand to educate local small businesses and nonprofits about utilizing stimulus dollars.
A meeting room at TechSolve off of Paddock Road in Roselawn/Bond Hill was packed at 10 a.m. for the first session. After reaching the room's capacity of 350, organizers had to turn away dozens of people, asking them to return for the 12-2 p.m. version of the meeting.
Wade Rakes, Strickland's director of public liaison, laid out the opportunities available for Greater Cincinnati businesses and nonprofits, saying Ohio is expected to receive more than $8 billion from the Obama administration's $787 billion stimulus bill. Only one area of funding has identified specific projects, he said — the Department of Transportation has approved 149 highway or bridge improvement proposals. Even there, he said, no contracts have been let, meaning that lots of avenues remain for local companies to get involved.
One of the stimulus plan's main goals, Wade said, is to create and retain jobs across Ohio. He said that all new jobs would be posted at www.OhioMeansJobs.gov as a way to connect out-of-work people with job opportunities.
More than 23,500 proposals having been submitted to Strickland’s office through the Ohio Recovery Web site (recovery.ohio.gov). Wade encouraged attendees to continue to submit ideas, noting that "real people" in Columbus are sorting through every proposal.
Here's more background in my editorial this week on today's meetings.