VAN WERT — Van Wert County has been awarded a $50,000 grant through the Ohio Development Services Agency’s (DSA) Office of Redevelopment and Energy.

The application made through the Van Wert County Economic Development Office was accepted for the eighth round of the Local Government Innovation Fund. The application was based on the combination of the offices of Main Street Van Wert, the Van Wert Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Van Wert County Economic Development.

The county also applied for the seventh round of the Local Government Innovation Fund grant late last year.

The commissioners also announced that the Van Wert County Economic Development Office is now the office dealing with state agencies and will be getting the business leads provided by the DSA. Any submissions to the DSA regarding follow-ups of leads will be done by provisional County Economic Development Director Sarah Smith.

“The county commissioners being the lead agency for economic development in the county, Jobs Ohio has licensed us to do the BR&E visits, the business retention and expansion visits,” Commissioner Todd Wolfrum advised. “We’re looking at managing those a little differently than they have been in the past. Sarah is going to go out and visit the businesses. If they want one of us or all of us to go out with her, we’ll go. Otherwise it will be Sarah doing the visit with one question, ‘What can we do to help?’ We want to make it a little more economic time-wise for the businesses and for our connection with us.

Wolfrum noted that Smith will be able to help solve problems via a series of search engines specially designed for business issues.

Smith added that Van Wert (City) Economic Development Director Cindy Leis has asked to manage the information on the business sites within the city. Wolfrum stated that help or ideas from Leis or other outside sources will be welcomed.

“We’re happy to work with anybody,” he said. “If the city’s economic development office or anybody else in the community might have ideas, we encourage them to talk to Sarah and get those contacts with the state through Jobs Ohio.”

Smith also presented a list of more than two dozen projects that she and the commissioners have compiled as a starting point for economic development. The list was widely varied with projects ranging from a new look for the Van Wert County website to working with a restaurant developer and operator.