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Hamilton County Turns To Consultants For Help Spending $158 Million In Federal Stimulus

 Ernst & Young New York offices. The firm has locations through the U.S. and the world, including here in Cincinnati.
Anthony Quintano
Ernst & Young New York offices. The firm has locations through the U.S. and the world, including here in Cincinnati.

Hamilton County is hiring a consulting company to help decide how to spend federal stimulus money. Commissioners unanimously approved the $125,000 contract Thursday.

The contract is with Ernst & Young, an international company with an office in Cincinnati. The consultants will facilitate several meetings with stakeholders focused on specific topics:

  • Public health and community resiliency
  • Strengthening behavioral, mental health and substance abuse response programming
  • Affordable housing production and preservation
  • Homeless prevention
  • Workforce development / child care
  • Youth development

Vice President Alicia Reece says she would have preferred the contract go to a local company.
"I'm always going to be fighting for the local guy, the local girl," Reece said. "Because I just believe that we want to recycle these dollars within Hamilton County as much as possible."

The stakeholder meetings will be scheduled in October and November.

Commissioner Denise Driehaus says the board got a chance to weigh in on what organizations and people will be part of those stakeholder meetings.

"To make sure that the everyday experts, and then high level experts, are all sitting together trying to figure out issues related to childcare and workforce and housing and mental health and some of the things that are the long term goals that this board has … and how we're going to transformationally invest these dollars to move this community forward," Driehaus said.

The consultants will send recommendations for commissioners to consider by the end of the year.

The county will get about $158 million from the American Rescue Plan. The county will distribute some of that within the next few months through short-term programs, including mortgage assistance, non-profit grants, vaccination incentives and helping small businesses apply for grants.

Some pandemic assistance programs are still operating with funding from the CARES Act, the first round of federal stimulus. A third round of small business grants is accepting applications now through Oct. 4.

See the full Ernst & Young contract below:

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.