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Ohio Appalachian region getting $85M assistance for innovation centers

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(The Center Square) – Ohio plans to funnel $85 million in federal taxpayer dollars to its Appalachian region to develop new community innovation centers to help with education, behavioral health care and jobs.

The money is available for K-12 school districts, joint vocational school districts, regional councils of government or other political subdivisions in the state’s 32-county Appalachian region.

The qualify, new construction, renovation, or facility expansion must support public education, deliver physical or behavioral health care services onside to students and the public, and provide community access to job-related programming.

“Schools are already centers of the community in Appalachia. With the support of the General Assembly, we can use federal funds made available from the American Rescue Plan Act Capital Projects Fund to promote student engagement while increasing the availability of resources for adults,” Gov. Mike DeWine said.

Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, called the plan important for an area of the state that he said is often ignored.

“Ohio’s Appalachian communities often feel overlooked, and they have a real need for these dollars as they work to provide educational, health care, and job opportunities in centralized locations,” Huffman said. “These are real improvements that people will see every day and will make a difference for decades to come.”

The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission will handle the grant applications and is planning to present guidelines in more detail to communities interested in the coming weeks.

“OFCC is already working with local communities on school construction projects,” Ohio Budget and Management Director and OFCC Chair Kimberly Murnieks said. “The partnership between education, healthcare, and jobs will provide ready access to the type of services that strengthen families and communities in the Appalachian region.”

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