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Southeast Ohio Community Leaders Call for Emergency Aid to Local Governments and Low-Income Families, Expanded Access to Affordable Broadband

The following is a press release issued by Buckeye Hills Regional Council. The Action Agenda can be viewed here.

MARIETTA, Ohio – A consortium of community leaders have worked together to develop a recovery plan for Southeast Ohio.

Concerned about the negative impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on the region’s health and economy, this group of local elected officials, business owners, social service providers, and medical experts began meeting in April. The result is the 8-page Community Leaders’ Action Plan for Regional Recovery, which identifies specific, action-oriented recommendations to provide emergency and longer-term assistance in six key areas – local governments, low-income families, broadband access, economic development, education, and health. Over the past week, the group has shared the document with the office of Governor Mike DeWine and members of the Ohio General Assembly.

Most immediately, this consortium is encouraging State leadership to utilize Ohio’s $2.7B Budget Stabilization Fund, swiftly allocate federal funding already received, and advocate for more COVID-19 federal dollars to meet emergency regional needs.

Importantly, this broad-based group identifies broadband as an essential 21st century utility necessary for work, education, telemedicine, economic development, and community vitality. This issue has taken on new urgency, as many Southeast Ohio families lack the ability to work, learn, or receive medical care from their homes. The Community Leaders’ Action Plan for Regional Recovery was recently endorsed by the Mayors’ Partnership for Progress (MPP), which includes mayors and city managers from 40 communities across 18 counties in Southeast Ohio.

Finally, in the wake of recent protests throughout the country, this group also recognizes that many decades of economic and racial disadvantage have left many communities with high rates of poverty and chronic illness, limited educational attainment, and few good job prospects. The attached document represents the identified immediate needs for Southeast Ohio region, but many of these apply to all of Ohio’s low-income neighborhoods, from rural Appalachia to our urban centers

Participating Southeast Ohio Community Leaders:
Cara Dingus Brook, CEO, Foundation for Appalachian Ohio
Glenda Bumgarner, Senior Director of External Engagement, JobsOhio
Misty Cromwell, Executive Director, Mental Health Recovery and Services Board (Noble, Coshocton, Morgan,
Perry, and Muskingum)
Misty Crosby, Executive Director, Buckeye Hills Regional Council
Luke Feeney, Mayor, Chillicothe
Jack Frech, Director, Athens County Job and Family Services (retired)
Anne Goon, Health Commissioner, Marietta/Belpre Health Department
Orman Hall, City Council, Lancaster
Kelly Hatas, Director, Hocking, Athens, and Perry Community Action (HAPCAP)
Charlie Hudson, Business Owner and Mayor, Wellston
Mike Jacoby, President, Ohio Southeast Economic Development
Tom Johnson, Mayor, Somerset
Stacy Kramer, Director, Southeast Ohio Regional Wellness at Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Neill Lane, Chief Strategy Officer, Stirling Ultracold
Dan Leffingwell, Superintendent, Noble Local Schools
Amista Lipot, Executive Director, Mayors’ Partnership for Progress
Gilbert Liu, Medical Director, Partners for Kids, Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Steve Patterson, Mayor, Athens
Debbie Phillips, CEO, Rural Action
Linda Supplee, Population Health Strategist, Genesis Healthcare
Megan Wanczyk, Vice President of Communications and Programs, Foundation for Appalachian Ohio

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