Vibrancy Fund grant from JobsOhio to start business incubator
By Terry Troy
A downtown Coshocton revitalization project took one step closer to reality last week. The Coshocton Port Authority received an offer letter for a Vibrancy Fund grant from JobsOhio for the Coshocton Collaborative, a co-working business incubator facility planned downtown that is designed to foster small business development. The grant is contingent upon receiving a federal Economic Development Administration grant in support of the project. Coshocton is one of four cities that will receive funding through the Vibrant Community Grant, which also include the cities of Sandusky, Van Wert and Painesville.
JobsOhio, the state’s private economic development corporation, announced four Ohio cities, including Coshocton, will receive assistance through the Vibrant Community Grant. The first round of funding for the four communities totaled $4 million.
“Across our state, many cities require investment to further advance key economic development projects that can serve as a catalyst in their post-pandemic recovery. Through this first round, the cities of Van Wert, Sandusky, Coshocton and Painesville will realize this goal, serving as an example of how public-private partnerships can spur job creation and revitalization of our beloved downtowns,” said JobsOhio president and CEO J.P. Nauseef. “The JobsOhio Vibrant Community Grant program is designed to identify and target funding to important, transformative projects – in traditionally distressed areas – that will continue the upward trajectory of Ohio’s economic future.”
The project is the result of partnerships and a shared vision for progress.
“The Coshocton Port Authority is excited to bring the Coshocton Collaborative to the heart of Main Street,” said Tiffany Swigert, executive director of the port authority. “What has previously been used to describe the way in which Coshocton approaches its next steps, its challenges and its opportunities will now call itself the home to the heart of entrepreneurship and small business support.
“The JobsOhio grant will help facilitate transformational and multifaceted growth in Coshocton. This downtown redevelopment project will not only repurpose a beautiful building on Main Street but it will provide a place for young and mature entrepreneurs, students and business persons of all ages to explore their ideas.” More than a year ago, the Coshocton Foundation asked local non-profits how they would make Coshocton a better place to live if they had $500,000 to do so. The port authority answered that question with the Coshocton Collaborative. Plans call for the three-story, 13,800 square foot vacant building to be converted into a unique maker space, business incubator and co-working facility that will promote entrepreneurship and foster economic growth. Port offices will be located at the facility and plans to work directly with
private-sector businesses looking to utilize the space. Other partners providing services and programming include the Small Business Development Center at Kent State Tuscarawas and Our Town Coshocton.
The Coshocton Foundation was encouraged by the port’s vision and pledged $375,000 toward the collaborative. The grant request was written joining with Our Town Coshocton with the remaining $125,000 to be utilized toward the salary of the Our Town director for two years.
“The pieces of this grant funding puzzle have to fit perfectly, and we are so appreciative of all parties working diligently to move this project forward,” Swigert said.
Swigert continues working with other partners to secure more funding, including the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association and the Economic Development Administration.
“There are a lot of pieces that still need to fit together,” Swigert noted. “We have a lot of work still ahead of us but we are confident in the partnerships we have built. Our partners are really excited about the vision created and they are doing everything they can to help us cross the finish
The regional economic development organization Ohio Southeast Economic Development has highlighted the project as a model that could be replicated in other southeastern Ohio communities.
“For small towns to survive and thrive, they need to look at diversifying to more information-based jobs and innovation,” according to Mike Jacoby, OhioSE president. “Coshocton put an extremely strong project together, and was able to be one of the first four projects to win the JobsOhio grant out of about 40 applicants. As the regional JobsOhio network partner in Southeast Ohio, we are very proud of Coshocton, and we were pleased to assist this project.”