Inclusion is critical to our state’s success. Not only is it important for attracting the best talent and fostering ingenuity, but inclusion matters for Ohio’s economy. As part of the JobsOhio 5-Year Strategic Plan, our inclusion work encompasses intersecting dimensions of underrepresented populations and geographies. As a result, JobsOhio is investing up to $18.4 million annually across three inclusion-focused programs. By the end of 2021, we had awarded grants to 215 projects that, in turn, have stimulated over $50 million in new payroll.
JobsOhio’s Inclusion Goals:
- Grow businesses located in distressed communities and/or owned by members of an underrepresented population.
- Drive investment and job creation into distressed areas.
Through the Inclusion Grant, JobsOhio invests up to $50,000 in businesses owned by underrepresented populations like minorities, women, veterans, and people with disabilities.Funds help finance machinery and equipment, real estate, and training. Pursuing more inclusive opportunities allows Ohio’s smaller businesses to prosper. Today, completed Inclusion Grant projects have created $74 million in new investment.
Vibrant Community Grant Program
The Vibrant Community Grant Program assists small and mid size cities with projects that attract private investment and create jobs. JobsOhio has identified 96 cities with populations between 5,000 and 75,000 and poverty rates at or above the state’s average that are eligible for support in this program. The program offers grants of up to $2 million for development projects that help transform Ohio’s downtowns and main streets.
To be considered for a Vibrant Community Grant, projects must follow these Guiding Principles:
- Catalyze reinvestment in distressed communities.
- Improve the attractiveness of the surrounding area.
- Contribute to quality of place.
- Partner with anchor employers and institutions.
- Leverage diverse funding sources.
Milo’s WholeWorld Gourmet
Promoting economic growth in rural Ohio.
In 2021, Milo’s Whole World Gourmet announced it would invest $1 million dollars to upgrade its Athens County facility. JobsOhio supported the major expansion project with a $50,000 Inclusion Grant. The building has new equipment and features technology that will dramatically increase production. Milo’s, which owns Brownwood Farms and Vino de Milo, crafts sauces and condiments in small batches with regionally sourced ingredients. The Nelsonville company now has space for staff to conceptualize and test its recipes. Founded in 2003, Milo’s has grown from three pasta sauces to a portfolio of more than 40 specialty products. Its brands are sold across the United States, Canada, Colombia, and Puerto Rico.
Inclusion Project Planning Program
For companies that may lack the expertise required to execute projects funded by the Vibrant Community Grant Program, JobsOhio provides cost share planning services. The Inclusive Project Planning Program offers distressed cities targeted technical assistance to address gaps in expertise. Gaps may include a lack of personnel to advance projects from concept to implementation. JobsOhio provides guidance on topics such as industry studies, site due diligence, zoning codes, and marketing and prospectus development. Support from this program helps to advance viable development projects in distressed areas that improve a community’s ability to attract private investment.