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Ford City may turn to county for input

| Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, 1:11 a.m.

Ford City Council wants help with economic development, and officials are considering turning to sources outside the borough to get it.

Looking beyond its financial woes, council and a handful of residents on Monday night discussed the borough's assets — namely 50 acres along the Allegheny River and amenities like its Rails to Trails recreational trail.

Suggestions for boosting the borough's economy included working with a third party to market the borough and collaborating with Armstrong County officials.

Approaching county officials would be the “sanest thing to do,” Mayor Marc Mantini said.

Council members Gene Banks and Vicki Schaub agreed.

Schaub said council should meet with the Armstrong County commissioners to get ideas about economic development. Banks advised taking a group to meet with top county officials.

The time may be right to do so, he suggested.

In the past, Banks said, Ford City has approached the county. But at that time, he indicated, there were concerns about working with the borough.

“They didn't want to fool with us until we straightened it up down here,” he said.

The borough has previously dealt with issues with a bankrupt community development corporation and development of an industrial park. Council is working to square up with the federal government a defaulted grant for the property.

Contacted by phone after Monday night's Ford City meeting, David Battaglia, county commissioners chairman, didn't know if Ford City had approached the county for help with economic development in the past. Commissioners Richard Fink and Robert Bower could not be reached on Monday night for comment.

But Battaglia said the county would welcome the chance to help Ford City.

“We're always ready to talk, so if they want to approach us, there's an open door here,” he said.

Commissioners might just be the first step. The Armstrong County Industrial Development Council, Battaglia said, is where borough officials should turn after that.

“The development authority has a strong role in economic development,” he said.

The borough's special meeting at 6 p.m. was canceled. The meeting was called to discuss repayment options on the borough's federal grant default.

The meeting didn't happen, officials said, because there were no items to vote on.

Julie E. Martin is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1315 or jmartin@tribweb.com.

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