A new federal grant and matching local dollars will go toward hiring a “funding guru” who will work to bring in more tornado recovery money and help the region brace for the future.
The $720,000 awarded Monday by the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration will allow the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission to hire a disaster recovery manager to help the counties impacted by Memorial Day tornadoes, said Brian Martin, MVRPC executive director.
“This will be the funding guru to help all of our members,” Martin said. “We’ve been focused on FEMA and other disaster funding … but I think we are just scratching the surface. We are looking for someone who has been in a disaster before and certainly knows how to navigate the federal, state and local funding channels.”
The disaster recovery manager will also prepare a strategy to help the region brace for any future disasters. The effort, to be located in a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Opportunity Zone, will be matched with $180,000 in local funds.
“A disaster recovery manager will help the city of Dayton and the region as a whole mitigate future catastrophes with thoughtful planning efforts,” said John Fleming, U.S. assistant secretary of commerce for economic development.
The disaster recovery manager will serve all impacted jurisdictions in Greene, Miami and Montgomery counties for the next five years, although recovery could last twice as long.
“We’ve been planning on 10 years for this recovery process based on federal guidance from other disasters around the country. So it’s a long haul,” Martin said. “We requested money for about half of that, and then we can see where we are.”
In 2018, Congress appropriated $600 million to EDA in additional funds for disaster relief and recovery as a result of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, wildfires, and other calendar year 2017 natural disasters.
The funding goes to one of Ohio’s 320 Opportunity Zones created by President Donald Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
The local match is tornado relief fund donations administered by the Dayton Foundation, Martin said.
A recruitment effort for the position will begin immediately, according to the MVRPC.
The job candidate should also be versed on development, redevelopment, site and land use planning that would help lesson a similar future storm’s impact, Martin said.
“Another big component is what about next time and resiliency? We would love to have resiliency built into all the plans that result from this process,” he said.
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