Extension seeks grant funding to improve community services and infrastructure

What service and infrastructure improvements would benefit your community?
Imagine the possibilities . . . now go for it!

Decreasing local government funds coupled with increasing material and equipment costs require government entities, first responders and non-profit organizations to seek grants to cover the expenses of specific projects and programs.

Little Muskingum VFD

Little Muskingum VFD recently purchased
this 4WD Rescue Squad
with funding from various grants.

Recent Extension efforts in Washington County have resulted in grant funding for new fire safety equipment.  The  Little Muskingum Volunteer Fire Department, a rural volunteer department, was able to purchase a new four-wheel drive rescue squad. Community Development Block Grant, Sisters of St. Joseph Charitable Fund, Marietta Community Foundation and numerous businesses and individuals contributed to the existing department funds for this life-saving equipment that serves over 1700 residents in a four-township area.

Economic growth and development relies on infrastructure to expand community resources. Financing for local public infrastructure improvement is provided by the Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC). Emergency road and bridge repair assistance for qualifying projects that pose an immediate threat is a part of the OPWC funding program.

In times of federal and/or state declared disasters, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Ohio Emergency Management Agency (OEMA) offer communities financial assistance in recovery from damages due to disasters. Through Emergency Management Performance Grants-Special Projects Program (EMPG) our county was able to renovate an existing building for a state-of-the-art Emergency Operations Center. During disasters, this center coordinates the response activities of multiple agencies.

Grant funding is competitive and requires research, planning, organizing and writing. OSU Extension professionals are available to help you learn more about grant writing.

More information on the grant opportunities mentioned above is available at:

(Submitted by Darlene Lukshin, Program Specialist, Washington County & Buckeye Hills EERA.)

Local leaders learn to engage residents to create shared vision

The residents of every community are an enormous pool of untapped power. Daily they make decisions based on their vision of the future that positively and negatively affect the community. None of those individual decisions will send a community in a decidedly positive or negative direction, but the aggregate of the multiple decisions will. As such, the way leaders engage residents may be the most important and most useful of all leadership activities. It may also be the most difficult.

Possible - Chet 2014-10-02In the 23rd Edition of the Survey of Young Americans’ Attitudes Toward Politics and Public Service done by Harvard University, only 30% of those surveyed said they trusted local government to do the right thing all or most of the time. In a society that is increasingly distrustful of government and institutions, now more than ever our leaders need to make positive change through civic engagement. But how can a leader productively bring a large number of community members with broadly diverging values and ideas together to create a shared vision?

In the Strengths Based Local Government Leadership Academy participants learn a civic engagement process called Appreciative Inquiry (AI) that has been used worldwide to help communities (and groups numbering as many as 3000) to reach common ground. The four-phase AI process starts with an inquiry into community strengths; an area where communities have the most consensus. It then turns to questions that reveal the most important visions for the future. The third phase focuses on what the community believes it should work on first and leads to the outline of an action plan. The final phase is directed at how the action plan will be implemented. During the academy participants not only experience the AI process, they learn the theory behind it so they can adapt it to multiple uses in their communities.

For more information, contact Chet Bowling.

(Submitted by Chet Bowling, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist.)

Economic impact analysis for informed decision-making

So let’s say you are in charge of investing tax dollars in ways that will ultimately generate the highest return. How do you know where to allocate those funds? In fact, why invest public dollars in ways that will benefit private investment at all?

To better understand how jobs and public or private investment contribute to community and regional wellbeing we can turn to a tool known as economic impact analysis. Such analyses help us understand the economic impact of jobs (existing, new, and/or lost) and other business activities. In fact, such analysis was done on Extension by Battelle Institute in 2004 to learn that investment in OSU Extension yielded a return of nearly 2.5 times the annual Extension operating budget. Knowing such information can better inform policy decisions, including how to allocate limited resources and/or which industries or businesses to target for future growth and development (which employ people, create goods and services and ultimately generate increased wealth).

Data Analysis 2014-07-31Economic impact analysis, or EIA, benefits communities, chambers, economic development organizations, associations and others who are seeking to understand and quantify economic changes. EIA programs are offered through Extension Community Development (CD) using IMPLAN, an input-output (I-O) modeling software. The model captures indirect and induced impacts that occur from an initial direct investment or series of investments using the most recent data available.

Extension CD offers four basic types of EIA reports which can be customized to meet specific needs:

  • Industry Profile Report – A profile of the top industries in your community by sector. The profile will describe employment, tax contribution and wages for the top five sectors and potential implications for the community.
  • Project Effect Report – An analysis that shows the impact of a past or recent project, highly effective for displaying the value of projects to local community leaders and stakeholders; as well as the value that a local economic development organization offers its service area.
  •  Industry Contribution Report – A detailed report of the contribution of an industry sector to the community and region. How extensive is the impact of the agriculture, tourism or manufacturing sectors to the local, regional and state economy?
  • Economic Impact Analysis – This report provides an in-depth analysis of the economic impact an event has on the local economy when taking place in a variety of selected industry sectors. The EIA can assist in identifying what type of industry is best to target for the local economy.

For more information on the program, including recently completed EIA reports, click here.

(Submitted by Nancy Bowen-Ellzey, Associate Professor and Extension Field Specialist, Community Economics. Additional contacts: David Civittolo, Associate Professor and Extension Field Specialist, Community Economics, and Greg Moon, Extension Educator, Wyandot County & Erie Basin EERA.)

Technology Means New Growth

Avert Bust after Shale Boom 2104-07-17

These days in many eastern Ohio communities, new extraction technologies – hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” as it is frequently called – are opening underground resources that were not available previously. This growth and development is creating new jobs and opportunities for business development. It is also raising concerns involving traffic, housing, health care, education and social services, for example.

To help community leaders make informed decisions and develop long-range plans that will address and balance economic, social and environmental impacts of this new wave of development, OSU Extension CD has put together a broad team of researchers and community development professionals to provide needed data, information and guidance. Read more here.

(Submitted by: Myra Moss, Associate Professor and Extension Educator, Heart of Ohio EERA. Additional sources: Cindy Bond, Assistant Professor and County Extension Educator, Guernsey County; Nancy Bowen-Ellzey, Associate Professor and Extension Field Specialist, Community Economics and Eric Romich, Assistant Professor and Extension Field Specialist, Energy Development.)

Let us help you build a Community Plan for Growth and Sustainability

Who wouldn’t want to come into a large sum of money? Assuming you won the lottery or inherited your long lost late aunt’s estate, wouldn’t you take some time to figure out how to best invest to make the most of those resources for the future? It’s called planning. Businesses, organizations and communities who are interested in longevity and growth engage in it frequently. Oftentimes, the process yields a plan. OSU Extension Community Development professionals provide the skills and experience needed to bring individuals together to develop a community plan with long-lasting positive outcomes.

Mount Victory Business Community PlanMost recently, two OSU Extension Community Development colleagues partnered with local leaders in the Village of Mount Victory (Ohio) to facilitate a plan for the business community. Nancy Bowen and Greg Moon took the community’s business owners and public officials through a research and data analysis process to identify the strengths in the local economy as well as the concerns and obstacles business owners faced. The outcome of the process was a report and recommendations with specific action items to help overcome community challenges. Village leadership has already put those recommendations into motion and brought what were many different ideas and efforts into a concerted effort. To see the report, click here. If you are interested in learning more, contact Nancy Bowen (bowen-ellzey.1@osu.edu) or Greg Moon (moon.123@osu.edu).

(Submitted by Greg Moon, Extension Educator, Wyandot County & Erie Basin EERA, and Nancy Bowen-Ellzey, Extension Field Specialist, Community Economics)