EAST LIVERPOOL - A generous donation from the Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) will help toward building a "war chest" in the battle being waged to save the city.
With two members absent and one opposed, the CIC's board of directors on Friday approved a recommendation by its finance committee to donate $60,000 to the ELO Vision 20/20 Project.
The funding will be used to fund the work being done by Better City LLC, an Ogden, Utah consulting firm that has been hired by the city to develop and implement an economic development plan.
At the July 18 finance committee meeting, a lengthy presentation on the project was offered by Service-Safety Director Ryan Estell and Todd Alexander, president of the chamber of commerce board of directors.
Bringing people into the downtown will be the primary focus of the development plan being formulated, and some of the ideas being pursued include a major hotel, a theater, a field house for a charter school, housing for Kent State University students and more.
As with most plans, this one is costing the city money up-front for the services of Better City, which is where the CIC's donation comes in, officials had explained previously.
Estell had told the finance committee that the city is billed by Better City just as it is any other consulting or law firm, with an hourly break-down on expenditures and who the group is recruiting or working with. He said it costs about $10,000 to $15,000 per month for these services but that, once successful projects are in place, the city will no longer have to pay for the consulting firm.
The city, as well as the Mason Family Foundation, Port Authority and a housing board have provided funding to date but Estell had told the finance committee more financial support is needed.
"We are trying to raise funds for what is essentially a war chest to keep this program going, to make sure that we don't stop short of our goal, and of ultimate success," Estell told the committee, adding that several people had expressed a willingness to donate but wanted someone else to take the lead, meaning their money would be a matching share for the CIC's donation, as it were.
Estell had said $50,000 to $60,000 in pledges are anticipated if matching funds were available, which is why the CIC was approached for the donation.
During Friday's meeting, board member Charles Wade, also a city councilman, noted a long-time auto parts store in town is closing and said, "We're trying to get new business in town. Hopefully, this will help get some in here."
The only opposition came from member Fred Kane, who offered no comment during the meeting, although at the finance committee meeting, he had voiced concerns that the $60,000 could be better used to clean up the city before trying to move forward with economic development.
The donation will come from the CIC's checking account, not its revolving loan fund, and it was mentioned at the previous meeting that the checking account currently stands at $200,000, with an $18,000 loan recently approved to businessman Brian Kerr, meaning this donation will leave about $122,000 in the fund.