WASHINGTON — Cleveland's Justin M. Bibb and Akron's Dan Horrigan joined a group of more than a dozen mayors from across the state of Ohio Wednesday for a meeting at the White House to discuss federal investments across the state.
The gathering of members of the Ohio Mayors Alliance centered around an event called "Communities in Action: Building a Better Ohio." U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, Director of White House Office of Public Engagement Keisha Lance Bottoms, and American Rescue Plan Coordinator Gene Sperling led a panel discussion centering around funds from legislation like the American Rescue Plan Act, Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and CHIPS Act. The mayors also meet with President Joe Biden.
You can watch video of the gathering in the player below:
Speaking with MSNBC outside the White House, Bibb said the leaders discussed progress made, and the work that still needs to be done.
"We’ve been working very closely with the Biden-Harris administration to make sure we leverage the American Rescue Plan investments to have safer communities and truly build an inclusive economic comeback coming out of COVID-19,” Mayor Bibb said.
Additionally, Bibb told MSNBC's Peter Alexander that Cleveland received the eighth-largest allocation from the American Rescue Plan, and discussed what the funding will go towards in Cleveland.
“We’re using that money to truly eradicate the lead paint crisis in Cleveland," Bibb said. "We’re putting $50 million to ensure that we have housing for all, to truly close the racial wealth gap in our city. We also want to make sure we make big, bold investments to support the next generation of small businesses of color in Cleveland.”
Mayor Dan Horrigan of Akron called Wednesday an exciting day for Ohio mayors to discuss systemic programs and investment from the American Rescue Plan funds.
"We are in charge of getting stuff done, whether it's infrastructure, potholes, snow removal, investments into neighborhoods and public space, we look for partners on that and obviously this administration has shown its willingness to partner on those things that affect people's lives on a daily basis," Mayor Horrigan said.
Horrigan said "big ticket items" for investments in the community include efforts in housing, lead removal, youth and community opportunity, and public space.
The mayor specifically mentioned a housing rehab program and said the city is hoping to leverage some of this funding to continue the program. He also spoke about hiring of someone in the mayor's office to coordinate non-profit work around non-violence and mentorship. Horrigan also referenced the replacement of three community centers, two pools, and improvements to Lock 3.
In a forum hosted by the White House, other Ohio leaders also spoke about how federal legislation and funding impacted their communities.
"Had it not been for ARP, Cincinnati would have failed," said Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval. "We would have failed to be able to provide the basic services, police, fire, sanitation, snow removal, for our citizens."
Besides Bibb and Horrigan, Elyria Mayor Frank Whitfield, Lakewood Mayor Meghan George, and Lorain Mayor Jack Bradley were also among those in attendance. The Alliance last week released a report showing how local leaders were spending the money from the American Rescue Plan, which Biden signed in the spring of 2021. You can read the report below:
Other mayors who took part in Wednesday's event included:
- Athens Mayor Steve Patterson
- Chillicothe Mayor Luke Feeney
- Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval
- Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther
- Dayton Mayor Jeffrey Mims
- Lima Mayor Sharetta Smith
- Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz
- Youngstown Mayor Tito Brown