2005-08-10 / Front Page

Business alliance presents grant proposal

Barry Matulaitis
STRONG -- Representatives from the Strong Area Business and Civic Alliance and Strong citizens reviewed a Community Block Development Grant proposal put forth by the business alliance at a public hearing on Tuesday, Aug. 2.With the closing of three mills in the past several years, citizens and business owners have been looking at economic development options for the mill properties. In July of 2004, discussion was initiated regarding ways of bringing jobs back into the community, and the business alliance was formed last January. It now has nearly 80 members and is looking to recruit more."It is our goal to provide employment opportunities with higher paying jobs that will provide benefits that will allow people to live in this town," representative Eileen Miazga said. The grant proposal revealed that 50.3 percent of Strong residents live at low or moderate-income levels, with an 8.3 percent unemployment rate and a median income of roughly $14,000, compared with a national median of $21,000. The average working commute for Strong residents is 29 minutes per day.Miazga noted that the proposal requests $10,000 in state funds to be used for a planning grant to conduct a study for redevelopment of the land containing the former Strong Wood Products, Forster mill and Cousineau's. A planning committee and structural redevelopment reports will be among the uses of the grant money. The funds will be used to hire a consulting firm to do site assessments, with a total budget of $15,000 to complete the project. The total includes a firm commitment of $1,000 in citizen donations and $4,140 in in-kind funds.After completion of the project, an official display will be provided for the public, according to business alliance representatives. Local artists will provide renderings of potential site uses as a visualization aid. A decision on the grant proposal is expected in September.

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