By Lindsey Elam, AICP at Greater Ohio Policy Center

The Ohio State Resource Network Completes Community Assessments

A version of this article was first published on the Greater Ohio Policy Center Blog.

The Greater Ohio Policy Center (GOPC) announced in 2019 that it would be partnering with the National Resource Network, Arnold Ventures, and the Just Transition Fund to create the Ohio State Resource Network (OSRN). The OSRN is intended to empower Ohio’s government leaders from economically challenged communities to take on their toughest problems. To accomplish this, the OSRN will provide nationally-renowned expertise to help local governments build capacity and develop a plan for multi-year fiscal sustainability. The OSRN will also guide communities on how best to fulfill their priorities that improve quality of life and local economic competitiveness.

Municipalities were welcomed to apply for OSRN’s assistance if they had experienced a population decline of two percent from 2010 to 2017, a poverty rate of 20 percent or more, or an annual average unemployment rate of six and a half percent. Robust applications were submitted from all over the state, and the list was narrowed down to six potential grantee communities—the smallest with less than 5,000 residents and the largest with over 60,000. From a city working to promote their brand as a destination area, to a village that owns a railroad and is trying to diversify its economy, to a community working to reverse the effects of years of disinvestment and blighted housing stock—GOPC was excited to see the variety of projects Ohio is taking on.

The creation of the list of six potential grantees followed 1-hour intake calls conducted with the communities who had submitted the strongest applications and were thought to likely benefit the most from OSRN resources. The OSRN has since completed in-person community assessments to determine the final set of communities that will receive intensive assessments and analyses from the OSRN over a six to eight-month period. Visits included interviews and focus groups with key community stakeholders and a review of the communities’ relevant budgets, reports, and plans.

The National Resource Network has successfully worked with 60 municipalities in 22 states, and GOPC has worked diligently for the last year to bring the Network back to Ohio. The OSRN is looking forward to supporting local leaders who are ready to take action and to assist them in becoming more vibrant and fiscally sustainable.

Stay tuned for the announcement of awarded communities!