Living, working and learning in Kent is more than dollars and cents, but few things help those things go better than a pocketfull of cash.
This economy has emptied most pockets which is why it was great news on Friday to officially hear that the State of Ohio, under the Clean Ohio grant program, selected a Kent based project (the old Ametek site) to receive $1.084 million in the final round of the Clean Ohio funds.
On a beautiful Friday afternoon (May 18, 2012), Mayor Fiala and Dan Smith, City Economic Development Director, took a drive down to Columbus to attend the last round of Clean Ohio fund awards. By mid-afternoon they called in to report their success — to the tune of $1.084 million — which will now be available for the City to use to clean up a few of trouble spots on the old Ametek building property and get it ready for re-use.
Those of you that follow all the moving parts of the downtown redevelopment project know that convincing Ametek to keep their 100 or so employees in Kent required the City being willing to buy the old Ametek building and the land that it sits on. After a lot of wheeling and dealing, that deal was done, Ametek signed a 15 year lease to be in downtown Kent (with an expected move in date in September 2012), and the City took ownership of the old Ametek property.
The City had hired a roomfull of environmental experts to evaluate the old Ametek site for potential hazards, and like any good consultant, they found a few locations around the property would need some remediation prior to redevelopment. The good news was that the areas in need of remediation were limited, nothing presented an immediate health risk to anyone on or off the property, and the types of problems found on site were treatable.
All we needed was about $1 million to get the job done right. Thanks to the Mayor and Dan, we now have that money.
When the Governor announced late in 2011 that the Clean Ohio fund program was going to end, we knew we had to get this final application right because so much was riding on finishing what we started with the Ametek move and our plans to backfill the Ametek building with new jobs. With the Governor’s announcement, we knew that competition for the final funds would be fierce, but fortunately we’ve had some experience with the Clean Ohio application process — you may recall that we secured $1.34 million to finish cleaning up the old RB&W site in 2011 — and we knew had a good project in our hands with the Ametek property.
It was great that we knew what a good project we had, but ultimately we had to pitch it to the State and convince them that it was better than so many other projects that were being filed in this last grant cycle.
Hundreds of little things that we did right in putting this project package together made the difference, but at the risk of oversimplifying I go back to our continued commitment to partnering and collaborating that seems to separate our recent projects from the pack of soloists. It seems like everybody has good projects, so in making its choices the State tends to look for evidence of real partnerships (aka everyone has money in the game) between cities, businessess, universities, and anyone else that wants to sign on board, as being the difference maker.
Partly out of necessity and partly as a strategy, Kent has become a great partner to many and that has made all the difference in finding ways to finance the community’s aspirations during a difficult economic period.