WARREN, Ohio – Brite Energy Innovators will receive $500,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds from the city of Warren’s ARPA allocation, more than half of which will go toward addressing deficiencies in the facility exposed while it hosted training sessions for Ultium Cells.
The funds, which were approved by the city’s Board of Control on Wednesday afternoon, were approved by City Council during its meeting later in the day.
Of the funds, $75,000 will go toward engineering and $200,000 will go toward construction of a workforce training hub at Brite, the downtown-based incubator that focuses on clean energy technologies. The other $225,000 will be used to support existing local small businesses and the creation of new businesses.
The workforce training space is expected to cost $750,000, and Brite already has received $550,000 through the state of Ohio and Eastern Gateway Community College for construction once the engineering is completed.
Following the council vote to approve the funds, Brite President/CEO Rick Stockburger said he hoped for work to get underway in the spring on the training space. Providing training for Ultium Cells underscored the need for classroom space and other features that are needed for workforce training, as well as basics such as additional restrooms.
“And this can be part of a potentially bigger project as well,” he continued.
“We want to be on the cutting edge of that movement toward green energy,” Mayor Doug Franklin said following Wednesday’s Board of Control meeting. The funding that was approved for Brite will “help them shore up some of those shortcomings and make that facility a lot more conducive to training and business development, and create community space,” he added.
In all, the Board of Control approved more than $2 million in spending from its $28.6 million allocation, some of which, including the funding to Brite, required approval by council members Wednesday evening.
Among the ARPA funds approved by the city’s Board of Control and council members was $250,000 for the Trumbull County Historical Society, which is planning a 2,000-square-foot addition to its Morgan History Center.
TCHS expects to put the $1.6 million project out to bid next month, with an anticipated groundbreaking in the fall and completion in 2024, said Meghan Reed, TCHS’ executive director. The main goal of the project is to add exhibit galleries for tourism and create a museum-quality collection storage facility that will be open to the public.
“Right now we have about 30,000 items in our collection that are in storage and not accessible to people, and our goal is to make our entire collection as accessible as possible,” she said.
Other ARPA-funded spending the city approved Wednesday included $400,000 for Inspiring Minds to make improvements to its 848 Woodland Ave. building.
Planned capital improvements will include addressing flooding issues at the building, adding to its capacity to provide “robust physical fitness” and creating an urban garden, Franklin said.
The total project cost is $3.1 million, said Eddie Colbert, Safety Services director.
In addition, the board approved a contract for just over $3 million with RiverReach Construction in Barberton to remove the Summit Street Dam, part of an initiative by communities along the Mahoning River to remove old dams that have outlived their usefulness.
Funding for the project is being provided by the state of Ohio, including its Environmental Protection Agency, said Paul Makosky, director of Warren’s engineering, planning and building department. After environmental testing is completed this year, RiverReach expects to get its permits in early 2024 and complete the project during the calendar year.
“It’s a project that’s been long in the works, so we’re really glad to be at this point,” Franklin said. Just cleaning up the river will automatically spur activity, he added.