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Engineering costs eligible for payment under grant program

Job Ready Site grants up to $5 million

Site engineering and environmental remediation costs can be paid from grants that will be awarded under the state's new $150 million Job Ready Site program, which was approved by voters in November as part of Issue 1.

Senate Bill 236, passed by the Ohio General Assembly in early December and awaiting the expected signature of Governor Bob Taft, sets the ground rules to be used by the Ohio Department of Development in awarding Job Ready Site grants to political subdivisions and economic development corporations.

An eligible project is defined as one that will result in a site that is intended for commercial, industrial or manufacturing use. Development grants of up to $5 million will be awarded either through an annual competitive process or, when timing is critical, by the state development director under a discretionary process.

Grant funds can be used for virtually any cost associated with developing a Job Ready Site, ranging from utility construction to acquisition or construction of buildings to site engineering and environmental cleanup. No more than 10 percent of a grant may be used to pay for professional services.

Senate Bill 236 authorizes the sale of an initial $30 million in bonds for the Job Ready Site program. A total of $150 million in bonds will be issued over the seven-year life of the program.

The legislation also authorizes the sale of $200 million in bonds for the first two years of the Third Frontier program, which will fund high-tech research and development projects. Ultimately, $500 million in Third Frontier bonds will be sold.

The biggest component of Issue 1 authorized the sale of $1.35 billion in bonds over 10 years to continue the Ohio Public Works Commission program, which provides loans and grants for construction of local infrastructure projects. No bond sales for that program are authorized in Senate Bill 236, however.

The public works program still has $240 million in debt authority remaining, enough for two more annual bond sales of $120 million, so no new authorizations are required.

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