Miami County considers $1.3M for workforce study, development, loans

Childcare, transportation and housing have been identified as key issues for workforce concerns

TROY — Miami County’s relatively new Community Improvement Corporation/Land Reutilization Corporation is asking the county commissioners to commit $1.3 million for proposed projects.

The organization, formed in 2021, met Wednesday to finalize its request for $200,000 for a community-wide workforce needs assessment to begin this year.

That would be followed in 2023 by $600,000 in workforce development projects identified in the needs assessment and $500,000 for a county revolving loan fund. Work done since the organization’s formation has identified childcare, transportation and housing as key issues for the county.

The county commissioners on Thursday heard a presentation on the proposals, indicating they would consider the requests yet this month.

Money for these efforts would come from the county general fund, said Charlotte Colley, commissioners’ administrator.

Colley explained funding was freed up this year by use of American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, funds for expenses directly related to COVID-19. In this case, general fund money was made available by using ARPA funds to reimburse the sheriff’s department for salary time spent directly related to COVID activities.

The commission will be asked to hire Management Resources of Columbus to conduct the community-wide needs assessment.

Among the goals are to provide a broader perspective on challenges facing county residents, the county workforce, employers, housing developers; more in-depth details on housing needs; a vision for addressing needs and housing gaps; and suggestions to address other community challenges that may be identified. The process would involve focus groups, interviews, surveys and a final report with recommendations, according to the proposed agreement.

The consultants would work with the countywide workforce committee and with private sector members while conducting their work, said Rich Osgood, county development director.

More work is coming on the 2023 elements of the project based on the needs identified in the assessment. Work has been ongoing on developing the revolving loan program format.

The focus of the revolving loan program will be to assist in the unincorporated areas of the county, but likely not exclusively, said Michael Clarey, assistant county development director.

“We haven’t come up with a comprehensive eligibility list yet,” he said. “These policies and strategies still have to be formulated.”

When the county initially received ARPA funding that will total more than $20 million, discussion included looking at a revolving loan program among that funding’s use. However, because of ARPA’s “very prescriptive” guidelines for use of program money, a new direction for funding a revolving loan program has been taken, Clarey said.

Contact this contributing writer at nancykburr@aol.com

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