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Columbus, OH 43215


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West Side Community Fund Legislation Would Invest $1 Million in Job Training, Health Services

For Immediate Release
March 24, 2014

For More Information:
Ashley Senn, Mayor’s Office, 645-2425
John Ivanic, City Council, 645-6798
Bob Tenenbaum, Hollywood Casino Columbus, 313-2315

Joint Investment by Columbus and Hollywood Casino Would Mark Largest to Date

Columbus City Council will consider two pieces of legislation that would authorize more than $1 million from the West Side Community Fund to support expanded West Side services from COWIC and Nationwide Children’s Hospital.  

Coupled with a matching $506,100 from Hollywood Casino, the $506,100 grant promotes workforce investment and health services on Columbus’s West Side. This will be the largest neighborhood investment from the West Side Community Fund, which was created as part of the 2010 settlement agreement between the City of Columbus and Penn National Gaming that preceded the construction of the Hollywood Casino. Both Columbus and Penn National agreed to contribute $2.5 million to the West Side Community Fund for a total of $5 million by 2015.

“These investments support workforce investment and health services on the West Side of Columbus,” Mayor Coleman said. “We’re proud to partner with Hollywood Casino to invest in the great neighborhood that surrounds it.”

Some of these funds will support the Westside Job Training and Employment Initiative with COWIC.  As the lead workforce development agency in Columbus and Central Ohio, COWIC will assist with securing employment for residents in Westland, Greater Hilltop, and Franklinton. COWIC will provide job preparation training, occupational skills, training referrals, job referrals and job placement services to 150 jobseekers.

“Today’s economy demands the most skilled labor force possible to help Columbus compete on a global stage,” said Councilmember Priscilla R. Tyson, chair of the Workforce Development and Health & Human Services Committees. “These workers must have the training and healthcare to provide the edge our companies need to be successful.”

The additional dollars will fund a 2,000 square foot expansion at Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Westside Primary Care Center. This location employs pediatricians who offer clinical services with flexible hours to a diverse population. There are specialty sessions for teenagers, children with asthma, obesity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and a supplemental food program for women and children up to 5 years old. Reach Out & Read provides a book to all children from the ages of 6 months to 5 years at their checkups.

“The employment services that we will be able to provide on the West Side are evidence of a promise kept by the City of Columbus and Hollywood Casino,” said COWIC President and CEO Suzanne Coleman-Tolbert. “We are excited to be involved in this community partnership and look forward to working with job seekers and businesses to translate these dollars into a tangible return on investment.”

The expansion will also include a 1,000 square foot multiuse community education space, allowing for seminars and in-service education for staff, as well as community meetings, developmental screenings and group classes. The new community space will also have an obesity prevention activity room, and volunteers will be available to offer homework help. The expansion will also include four clinical offices and space for parent and patient education, Medicaid enrollment and financial assistance.

"As partners with the City in the West Side Development Fund, we know that among the many challenges facing West Side residents, access to quality health care and jobs are two of the most significant,” said Ameet Patel, General Manager of Hollywood Casino Columbus. “The expansion of Nationwide Children's Hospital's Westside Primary Care Center and COWIC's Westside Job Training and Employment Initiative will be major building blocks in the continued revitalization of the West Side, and we're thrilled to be a part of these extremely important efforts."

The West Side Community Fund will be used for a variety of investments related to the neighborhoods immediately surrounding the Hollywood Casino development, including job training, minority affairs, economic development and capital projects. City Council is scheduled to vote on the city’s annual expenditure of $500,000 for the West Side Community Fund March 24.

“The need to expand the Westside Primary Care Center is evident, and, thanks to the generosity of the City of Columbus and Hollywood Casino, the expansion is happening,” said Dr. Steve Allen, CEO of Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “We are grateful for community partners who are strengthening our shared West Side neighborhood, and ensuring growth and stability for the children and families who call it home.”