* This will be in the Sandusky Register but we wanted our members to read it first.
The Greater Sandusky Partnership (GSP) was created by local business leaders in late 2021 to drive one major objective for our region that can enhance everyone’s subsequent efforts across the board. That objective is simple; reversing a fifty-year county wide decline in our population
and begin growing again! Over the next several months, working with many partners in the public and private sector we will examine the strategies that can contribute to our growth but one that we have already launched is now in process and it will help the county and key partners prioritize physical projects that are underpinnings to attract more people. The long-term dividends of a new consensus driven process are huge.
In this instance, the Ohio’s statewide biennial capital budget was the immediate reason for better organizing how local sponsors of catalytic ‘bricks and mortar” projects in the area would jointly advocate for success. While the capital bill provides funding for infrastructure and higher education uses across the state, it also makes available funding for special eligible “community-oriented projects”. The current prize of course would be to gain more state support for key projects in the area. We hope to attract more than $1 million in this process which would be a 33% gain from the last budget. Projects that received funding in the last capital bill in 2021 included the Sandusky Bay Pathway’s Landing Park.
Across Ohio, cities and counties that can provide a prioritized list of special projects tend to do better in attracting funds because many more voices, public and private, are on the same page and aren’t competing against one another for grant support. This year, for the first time ever Erie County and its partners have created a prioritized community project list and GSP is investing in advocacy support in Columbus to regularly carry our collective message to the Legislature.
After inquiring with local organizations and public entities, five key projects emerged at this time that we believe are worthy of support from the state and even more importantly, from every subsequent form of funding that becomes available. Harbor View Park in Vermilion, the Sandusky State Theatre, the U.S. Route 6 Connectivity Corridor, the Boeckling Pier improvement project and the Goodwill Training Center result in a dynamic regional package that meet many growth objectives.
Workforce training, connectivity and further access to our lakefront and visitor amenities that are multi-seasonal form the key themes of this year’s priorities. We will continue to improve this process in future years and benefit from a collaborative process that results in a prioritized project list to increase our region’s ability to compete for our own tax dollars at every level of government.
Erie county can punch above its weight utilizing a public-private approach for seeking government funding and GSP is prepared to fund and support that process for years to come.