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Elected officials head to Washington, D.C., for 'Building a Better Ohio' forum

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther speaks during a groundbreaking celebration for the Alvis House expansion and renovation project Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, in Columbus. Alvis House is a nonprofit human services agency providing treatment programs for the previously incarcerated.
Jay LaPrete
/
AP
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther speaks during a groundbreaking celebration for the Alvis House expansion and renovation project Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, in Columbus. Alvis House is a nonprofit human services agency providing treatment programs for the previously incarcerated.

Local elected officials on Wednesday are heading to Washington, D.C., to check in with White House officials about the impact of federal programs in their jurisdiction as part of the listening forum “Communities in Action: Building a Better Ohio.”

The three Franklin County commissioners and Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther announced they will attend the White House event to talk about how the county and city have used American Rescue Plan funds, and been impacted by the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

The area received hundreds of millions of dollars in ARP funding, which has been used on a myriad of programs.

The event is to “discuss local/federal partnerships, highlight the local impact of recently passed federal legislation, and share about how the administration can work even more closely with city and county officials in the future,” according to the county commissioners’ office.

They say the bills have helped the area recover from the pandemic and support economic development and clean energy while lowering prescription drug costs and rebuilding highways and bridges.

The city used $24 million for human services organizations, $5 million for small business support, $22 million for youth programming, and $39 million on rental and utility assistance for the public, according to Ginther.

He said the money enabled “transformative changes.”

“American Rescue Plan funding allowed us to provide additional funding for shelters, substantial rental and utility assistance for residents, and expanded summer programming for our young people who lost so much during the pandemic,” Ginther states in a news release.

County commissioner Kevin Boyce said the ARP money and the benefits of the other recent bills have helped them prepare for the population growth expected.

“Central Ohio is projected to grow to more than three million people in the next 30 years, which demands that we’re planning now to meet those increasing needs,” Boyce said. “The growth is good for our economy, but it’s going to tax our transportation, education, healthcare, and housing systems.”

Some of the programs commissioners sponsored with ARP money include $22 million to support child care, $12 million for workforce development, and $9.5 million for food banks.

People can watch the live-streamed forum at WhiteHouse.gov/Live.

Renee Fox is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. Fox joined the WOSU newsroom from the Tribune Chronicle/Vindicator in the Youngstown area, where she’d been a reporter since 2014. Contact Renee at renee.fox@wosu.org.