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Grant supported for Tracy growth

Lake Township trustees have voiced their support for a local company's quest to obtain state funding that may generate growth on Tracy Road.

Trustees recently voted to support Tracy Development Ltd. as it applies for a grant through the Job Ready Sites Program to improve 300 acres owned by Rudolph Libbe Properties Inc. on State Rt. 795 at Tracy.

Tracy Development is a holding company of Rudolph Libbe. The deadline to apply for the grant was yesterday.

Trustee Richard Welling said the industrially zoned area has tremendous possibilities for the township, Rudolph/Libbe, and the Lake Local School District.

"This property has been set aside by the trustees for decades for development possibilities," he said.

"We're pretty excited about the possibilities for this property."

The property is part of the township's enterprise zone. In addition, the front 100 acres that abut State Rt. 795 have foreign trade zone status.

Under the grant application, 200 acres would need to be held in reserve for one user for seven years.

The grant could pay for utility improvements; infrastructure improvements to Tracy Road, including a turn lane, and a possible railroad spur-Ohio Turnpike connection.

Mr. Welling said Rudolph/Libbe was looking for a large business to locate on the 200 acres, and possibly a business park on the rest.

"The trustees are very excited about the possibilities of this site. It's something we've been promoting since we were trustees," he said. "And we think this will help the schools with their financial issues."

Voters living in the strapped school district have rejected the last nine levy requests. School officials are trying to avoid a projected $1.5 million deficit by the end of 2008.

The district has been focusing on economic development since the Lake 20/20 Vision Plan was formed to work toward sustaining growth in the community, school board President Eric Hirzel said.

"That's exactly what we're pushing for, commercial and retail development, which will, in turn, probably make residential development more appealing," he said. "It's a financial certainty that it will be a big benefit for the schools and the tax base."

The Ohio Department of Development, which has authority over the Job Ready Sites Program, provides financial assistance to local governments to fill statewide gaps in Ohio's site offerings market.

If approved, the grant money would come from State Issue 1, a $2 billion bond issue designed to foster job development, that was approved by Ohio voters in November, 2005. Of that amount, $150 million was planned for local governments to prepare job-ready sites. enabling local communities to compete for new businesses and industries and create jobs through the development of sites equipped with all utilities.

"This is an example of the Lake Township trustees working with local business and state of Ohio agencies for the benefit of Lake Township's residents, existing businesses, and Lake Local Schools," the trustees said in a prepared statement.

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