Counties unite to buy items for agencies

Commissioners gave an OK to a business expansion project in Sebring.
YOUNGSTOWN -- The Children Services boards of Mahoning and Trumbull counties and the Columbiana County Department of Job and Family Services joined forces to secure a $27,900 grant to buy high-tech equipment to enhance protective care services for children in the three counties.
At a ceremony Thursday before the Mahoning County commissioners, Denise Stewart, executive director of the county's CSB, CSB board members and representatives from SBC Foundation explained that the grant will be used to buy personal digital assistants for use in selected departments. The hand-held computers take the place of calendars and address books, among other uses.
The Mahoning and Trumbull CSB and the Columbiana JFS came together to form the Tri-County CSB Tech Collaborative.
SBC Foundation is the philanthropic arm of SBC Communications Inc., and the money is from an SBC Excelerator grant that allows nonprofit organizations to use technology "to expand the reach of services and heighten the impact those services have on people and in the community," SBC officials said.
Stewart said the PDAs will result in enhanced job performance, reduced paperwork and improved client services as measured by agency records and training surveys.
The SBC Foundation provided $5 million in 2004 SBC Excelerator competitive grants to 436 nonprofit organizations throughout the SBC's 13-state region.
The Children Services boards and the JFS provide protective care services for children or the placement of children in certified foster homes.
Additional business
In other business, commissioners approved a resolution approving a 10-year, 60 percent tax abatement on real and personal property and inventory for MPI Label Systems, whose corporate headquarters are in Sebring.
MPI Label Systems was established in a small, rented warehouse in downtown Sebring in 1968, specializing in pressure sensitive labeling. It has grown into one of the top three privately owned roll label converters in the nation, and in the top 10 of all label companies.
Randy Kocher, company president, told the commissioners the company plans to invest $2.2 million in its expansion and create 27 jobs for some of the new projects the company is undertaking. The plant is located in the Sebring Enterprise Zone.
The average hourly pay for the jobs will be $15, and the company does offer benefits.
Kocher said MPI will be competing for projects with foreign companies as well as other states, and the proposed expansion will help them in that competition.
The MPI Web site says the company has seven manufacturing facilities employing more than 510 people, complete machine service centers, and 30 sales offices located in every region of the country.
Commissioners also agreed to seek bids for road and drainage projects at the Centerpointe business park in Austintown Township, and instructed the county's special projects department to apply to the Ohio Department of Development's Industrial Site Improvement Fund for a $900,000 grant for the business park, located between state Routes 46 and 11 along Interstate 80.