Fund Announces EfficientGovNow Award Recipients

by | Jun 9, 2010

CLEVELAND–June 9, 2010–A consolidated land bank, merged safety dispatch and a novel effort to stimulate greater use of solar electricity earned the top spots from nearly 17,500 Northeast Ohioans who voted in the EfficientGovNow competition sponsored by the Fund for Our Economic Future.


The Fund sponsored the competition to encourage greater citizen advocacy for more collaborative, efficient local government. Residents were asked to vote for their three favorite government collaborations from 10 finalists chosen by the Fund, a collaboration of philanthropic institutions and individuals in Northeast Ohio that works to strengthen the region’s economic competitiveness.


During public voting in May, 17,482 ballots were cast and the Fund announced the winners today in a live webcast.


The final results are:1. Grounds for Change: Creating the First Collaborative Land Bank for the Mahoning County Region 1st Place Vote Points: 9,126 2nd Place Vote Points: 3,822 3rd Place Vote Points: 386 Total Points: 13,334 Dollar Amount Requested: $61,4202. Countywide 9-1-1 Dispatch Center (Stark County) 1st Place Vote Points: 9,543 2nd Place Vote Points: 1,296 3rd Place Vote Points: 572 Total Points: 11,411 Dollar Amount Requested: $100,0003. Let the Sun Shine: The Cleveland – First Suburbs Solar Special Improvement District Pilot Program 1st Place Vote Points: 7,683 2nd Place Vote Points: 1,526 3rd Place Vote Points: 670 Total Points: 9,879 Dollar Amount Requested: $100,0004. Trumbull County Coordinated Geographical Information System (GIS) Sharing and Data Collection 1st Place Vote Points: 5,034 2nd Place Vote Points: 4,200 3rd Place Vote Points: 328 Total Points: 9,562 Dollar Amount Requested: $99,5005. Implement Countywide Collaborative Storm Water Management Agency (Lorain County) 1st Place Vote Points: 5,358 2nd Place Vote Points: 1,218 3rd Place Vote Points: 492 Total Points: 7,068 Dollar Amount Requested: $90,0006. GIS Cooperative for Small Communities and Utilities (Partners within Ashtabula, Columbiana, Summit, Carroll and  Lorain counties) 1st Place Vote Points: 4,704 2nd Place Vote Points: 1,504 3rd Place Vote Points: 657 Total Points: 6,865 Dollar Amount Requested: $100,0007. Affordable Solutions for Pharmaceutical Access in Summit County to Promote Self-Sufficiency and Employability 1st Place Vote Points: 4,866 2nd Place Vote Points: 906  3rd Place Vote Points: 423Total Points: 6,195 Dollar Amount Requested: $100,0008. Better than Margarita Salt! (Partners in Cuyahoga County) 1st Place Vote Points: 2,937 2nd Place Vote Points: 1,038 3rd Place Vote Points: 502 Total Points: 4,477 Dollar Amount Requested: $88,0009. A Better Approach for Our Fire Departments to Help the Public (Lake County) 1st Place Vote Points: 2,637 2nd Place Vote Points: 1,062 3rd Place Vote Points: 573 Total Points: 4,272 Dollar Amount Requested: $88,00010. Ashtabula County Planning Collaborative 1st Place Vote Points: 558 2nd Place Vote Points: 638 3rd Place Vote Points: 311 Total Points: 1,507 Dollar Amount Requested: $50,408


The top three projects will receive grants up to the amount requested. Plus, the Fund chose to award $70,000 to a fourth collaboration among smaller communities in Ashtabula, Columbiana, Summit, Carroll and Lorain counties, which came in sixth place in the competition. The Fund had said it would consider awarding a fourth grant if a collaboration from a smaller community demonstrated strong support for its project.


“The backers of the GIS Cooperative for Small Communities and Utilities did a great job of getting out the vote and earned the grant,” said Brad Whitehead, president of the Fund.


The grants will be distributed in stages as each of the four projects reaches specific benchmarks.    “We are encouraged to see a growing number of residents calling for more local government collaboration,” Whitehead said. “It is clear that the public expects local governments to collaborate and, increasingly, local officials are making collaboration the norm, not the exception. That was our goal when we started EfficientGovNow last year.”


Whitehead congratulated the leadership in Mahoning County for generating the largest total for the second year in a row. Last year, a collaboration to revitalize brownfields along the Mahoning River earned the top spot. This year, a collaborative land bank involving four communities and Mahoning County won the competition.


Second place went to a consolidated 9-1-1 dispatch project in Stark County that will transform 10 dispatch centers and one call center into a single operation, saving more than $2 million a year.


“Some collaborations have been on the drawing boards for some time, but now with strong community support generated by EfficientGovNow these types of projects will have the momentum needed to be implemented,” Whitehead said.


The Fund’s partner in the project, the Kent State Center for Public Administration and Public Policy, will track the progress of all of the government collaborations that participated in EfficientGovNow.


“The Fund and Kent State will continue to collaborate on ways to encourage and promote more government collaborations beyond those funded by the EfficientGovNow competition,” Whitehead said.


The numbers related to the current round of EfficientGovNow include:



    • 50 project abstracts attracted


    • 380 total collaborating governments and partners across 15 of Northeast Ohio’s 16 counties


    • 31 partnerships invited to submit full proposal


    • 27 proposals met full EfficientGovNow criteria


    • 10 finalists selected


    • 17,482 qualified votes



Launched in 2009, EfficientGovNow is a competitive award and civic engagement program that encourages and accelerates government cooperation and efficiency by providing philanthropic funds to local government collaboration projects as selected by the residents of Northeast Ohio. The program was supported by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.


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ABOUT THE FUND FOR OUR ECONOMIC FUTURE The Fund for Our Economic Future ( is a collaboration of more than 100 foundations, organizations and philanthropists from across Northeast Ohio that strengthens the region’s economic competitiveness through grantmaking, civic engagement and research.


ABOUT THE JOHN S. AND JAMES L. KNIGHT FOUNDATION The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote community engagement and lead to transformational change. For more, visit


For more information, contact: Chris ThompsonFund for Our Economic FutureOffice: 216-925-4902Cell:


Laura ScharfLandau Public RelationsOffice: 216-912-2857Cell:


EfficientGovNow Round 2 Winners


Total dollars awarded: $331,420


First Place – receiving $61,420; garnered 13,334 points


Grounds for Change: Creating the First Collaborative Land Bank for the Mahoning County Region Goal: Establish a regional land bank.


With among the highest per-capita inventories of vacant property nationwide and recession-fueled blight and abandonment spreading to suburbs, Youngstown and Mahoning County need to collaborate on a regional land bank to stabilize the housing market, strengthen its urban core and stop the spread of property abandonment.


Lien Forward Ohio Regional Council of Governments proposes launching Mahoning County’s first regional land bank in collaboration with Youngstown, Campbell, Struthers and Austintown Township.


As a regional land bank, it will strategically acquire, maintain and rehabilitate vacant properties; eliminate blight; and assemble parcels for future development. It will save local governments $304,364 in annual salaries, benefits and costs by consolidating land bank operations into one office.


Note: The Mahoning Valley has captured the first place spot in both rounds of EfficientGovNow.




Second Place – receiving $100,000; garnered 11,411 points


Countywide 9-1-1 Dispatch Center for Stark County Goal: To create a Countywide 9-1-1 Dispatch Center (the Public Safety Answering Point – PSAP) that would consolidate the ten dispatch centers and one call center in Stark County into one.


More than $6.8 million dollars of local tax dollars are spent today to operate these eleven centers.  It is estimated that the establishment of a Countywide 9-1-1 Dispatch Center could provide a savings of more than $2 million dollars to area political subdivisions. More importantly, a consolidated dispatch center would realize greater efficiency, cost effectiveness and economies of scale as well as provide a higher level of interagency coordination and service.




Third Place – receiving $100,000; garnered 9,879 points


Let the Sun Shine – The Cleveland and First Suburbs Solar Special Improvement District Pilot Project (Cuyahoga County) Goal: To create a pilot program for interested property owners to finance energy efficiency improvements through special assessment financing.


The objective of the Cleveland-First Suburbs Solar Special Improvement District (SID) is to increase the use of solar panels on commercial and industrial buildings in Northeast Ohio by offering an opportunity for property owners to purchase and install solar panels without any up-front out-of-pocket expense. This is the first collaborative project between Cleveland and 16 member-municipalities of the First Suburbs Development Council.


Cost savings to property owners who install the solar projects through the Solar SID will strengthen the economic competitiveness of those businesses and the communities in which they are located.


The creation of the Solar SID will allow the property owners to be assessed over a twenty year period to repay the debt on the panels. This pilot program will increase economic competitiveness by offering a cost savings program coupled with federal tax incentives and state credits, both of which are currently in place through 2010, to the largest property owners in the communities of Cleveland and its inner ring neighboring communities.




Small Communities Prize – receiving $70,000; garnered 6,865 points


GIS Cooperative for Small Communities and Utilities (Partners within Ashtabula, Columbiana, Summit, Carroll and Lorain Counties) Goal: Complete data collection and mapping in six Northeast Ohio communities to create a core group of founding users for a statewide Small Communities GIS Cooperative.


The objective is to digitally map all water, sewer and storm water utilities owned by the participating entities and, as time allows, map other community assets. The end-result will be improved efficiencies, improved maintenance and faster response times to service interruptions, enabling small utilities to save money and provide better service to their customers.


This proposal will also help fund a small portion of the continuing organizational development of the Small Communities and Utilities GIS Cooperative. The idea behind the cooperative is to provide the technology and qualified personnel that small governments and utilities individually are not able to afford. The expected long-term outcome will be a cost-effective, shared, Internet-based GIS service available to all small municipalities and public utilities in Ohio. Also, the GIS program provides a platform for future collaborative efforts and information sharing with other utilities, counties, and regional planning and economic development agencies.