$100K grant to fund computer-use study

A $100,000 grant will fund a feasibility study of a shared-services computer network for Mahoning County.

The Mahoning County Area Cooperative Computerized Educational Support System, which provides Internet, payroll services and other technology to Mahoning County schools, received the grant from the Ohio Department of Development.

John LaPlante, ACCESS executive director, said 16 entities in the county indicated an interest in pursuing the project.

“This is great,” he said. “We’re very excited.”

The grant must be approved by the state Controlling Board, which is expected to meet within weeks, before money will be disbursed.

LaPlante believes the number of entities that signed on to the study played a role in its being funded.

“We’re listed second and I think they’re listed in order of score,” he said. “That’s a testament to how many different agencies we had participating.”

Participants are Mahoning County Educational Service Center, Mahoning County Auditor’s office, county commissioners, Austintown, Boardman, Goshen, Springfield and Poland townships; Poland Village, Struthers, Data Recovery Systems, New Middletown, Youngstown, and the county sheriff’s, recorder’s and treasurer’s offices.

Two other Mahoning Valley projects were awarded loans through the program.

The Trumbull County Engineer’s office got a $500,000 loan for a salt-storage and joint-purchasing initiative, and the Columbiana County recorder’s office received a $100,00 loan for digitizing, redacting and local/remote access of land records.

The grants were approved by the Local Government Innovations Council, which provides financial assistance to encourage collaborations, shared services and efficiency at the local level to reduce the costs of community services, a news release from the Ohio Department of Development said.

“Teamwork leads to great successes,” Christiane Schmenk, ODD director, said in the news release. “Today’s investments foster collaboration that will ensure valuable services are delivered, while overcoming financial issues that plague many local communities.”

Once the money comes through, the next step for is for representatives of all of the entities to meet and decide how to proceed with the feasibility study, LaPlante said.

“Anybody who signed up to be a part of the study gets to have a say in how to do the study,” he said.

The agencies really are working together, LaPlante said.

“The goal is to help government work more efficiently,” he said. “You can’t have one agency decide that.”

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