Although the economy seems to be leveling out, it still seems to be at the low end of the spectrum when compared with where we were a few years ago.
But even with things at an all-time low, there are still organizations out there that have plenty of money to pass around. One such organization is The Fund for Our Economic Future, a philanthropic collaboration that works toward making Northeast Ohio an economic competitor in the business world.
That might sound like a lofty goal, especially since Northeast Ohio has suffered some of the largest national losses when it comes to industry. But when something is at rock bottom, the only direction we can look is upward. Upward is the exact direction that the organization looked when it developed the action plan titled Advance Northeast Ohio. The plan is to unite a 16-county region to collaborate and implement strategies that would create jobs, increase incomes and reduce poverty.
To achieve this goal, The Fund for Our Economic Future has named nine finalists competing for its EfficientGov-
Now awards. Of the nine finalists, three winners will share a prize of $300,000 in grant money for their projects. One of the nine competing projects is the Mahoning River Corridor Interactive Web site, ''Rollin' on the River.''
The corridor makes up more than 39 miles of the Mahoning River that runs through nine municipalities and portions of five townships, including Girard. According to The Mahoning River Corridor initiative, more than 40 percent of the area's population live in the corridor communities. At one time in our history, nine steel mills lined the corridor. When the steel industry died, they left behind a laundry list of ecological problems. The Mahoning River Corridor Initiative intends to revitalize the corridor, opening it up for business, recreational activities and development.
The other eight finalists in the contest include Stark County's plan to map the storm water conveyance system; Ashland County's plan of a combined dispatch system; Cuyahoga County's idea for a Westshore Regional Fire District; the formation of the Mahoning/Youngstown Regional Information System; a project with Oberlin and New Russia to collaborate on district fleet management; Summit County's plan to save money by consolidating public health services; compacting schools' adminstration in Rittman and Orrville; and development of a JEDD in Cuyahoga Falls, Hudson and Stow.
Residents of Northeast Ohio can vote for the three winners by visiting www.EfficientGov-Now.org, calling 877-771-5206 or with a mail-in ballot included in brochures at libraries throughout the region.
And speaking of libraries, be sure to voice your opinion on keeping those funded as well.