(Columbus)—The Columbus City Council continues to invest in strong and safe neighborhoods while ensuring the long-term financial sustainability of the community. Council members have announced their 2013 proposed budget amendments that include an unprecedented investment in small businesses and other economic development efforts while increasing the City’s Economic Stabilization or rainy day fund.

“These budget amendments support the core mission of city government, which is to deliver crucial services in the most cost effective manner while investing in programs and services that will grow the local economy,” said Priscilla R.Tyson, chair of the Finance Committee.”

Columbus City Auditor Hugh J. Dorrian reported to City Council a carryover of approximately $7.5 million in general fund revenues from 2012. As in past years, the City Council has decided to place a substantial amount of the carryover, this year $3 million, in the rainy day fund to help Columbus pay for critical city services, like police and fire protection, during economic downturns.

“Council has committed to building a reserve fund that will protect future generations from the type of recession we have come to know all too well, and to prepare for those challenges yet unknown,” said Council President Ginther. “We are not only investing in priorities that will strengthen Columbus’ financial position, but those that will strengthen our neighborhoods, and keep them healthy, safe and strong.”

Columbus City Council will hold a public hearing to address these budget amendments and related spending priorities, Thursday, January 17, at 5:30 pm in City Council Chambers. Speaker slips may be filled out beginning Thursday morning at 8:00 am at the security desk at the Front Street entrance to City Hall. Speaker slips will be accepted until 6 pm and the meeting will be broadcast live on CTV, Columbus’ government channel 3 on local cable systems.

Councilmember Priscilla R. Tyson

$325,000 Workforce Development

A key funding priority of the 2013 budget amendments is creating a more robust, well trained and ready workforce. In the past, the City Council has partnered with local agencies, such as the Central Ohio Workforce Investment Corporation, Columbus State Community College, and IMPACT Community Action to provide the resources for numerous programs designed to give workers the technical and soft skills, such as communication and customer service, needed for the workers and businesses to succeed. This $325,000 amendment will greatly increase the City’s ability to shape a workforce necessary to grow companies in Columbus for decades to come.

Councilmember A. Troy Miller

$400,000 Small Business Incubators

Small business development is critical to a healthy local economy and President Pro Tem A. Troy Miller is working to help small companies get off the ground by establishing small business incubators to support startup firms and increase their chances of long term success. Councilmember Miller, with his experience as a small business owner, has identified four small business incubator programs that provide businesses with a range of services including financial management, marketing, and networking opportunities to help grow businesses in Columbus. One budget amendment proposed by Councilmember Miller will fund a retail incubator in the Linden neighborhood that will not only provide an outlet for area vendors, but which will improve the overall retail market in the community. Other incubators that will be supported through Councilmember Miller’s budget amendments include one sponsored by the Economic and Community Development Institute, another by the Columbus College of Art and Design, and a separate downtown technology accelerator.

Councilmember Eileen Y. Paley

$20,000 Small Business Development Assistance

The neighborhood near the Ohio State University campus is filled with a wide range of businesses that serve the needs of thousands of residents, students and faculty who live and work in the area. Councilmember Eileen Y. Paley is providing $20,000 for the University Area Business Association to help grow the organization, pay for administrative costs, and aggressively seek project funding, with a goal to offer services comparable to Capital Crossroads in the Downtown and the Short North Alliance. The group represents businesses from Southern Gateway north to Clintonville.

Councilmember Zach M. Klein

$700,000 Small Business Loan Programs

Here in Columbus, there are a number of non-profit groups that help businesses grow during the difficult first years of existence. Two of the most successful, the Economic and Community Development Institute and Community Capital Development Corporation, offer a wide range of services to startup businesses as well as small and minority companies. This budget amendment of $750,000 will support and expand microenterprise loan programs and small business loan programs in Columbus.

Councilmember Hearcel F. Craig

$10,000 Small Business Training Services

Small business owners and their employees seeking to expand proficiency in critical computer skills that will lead to future economic success will be able to tap into City sponsored training sessions with this $10,000 amendment to the budget. The City of Columbus offers a wide variety of training for programs necessary for business success including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Acrobat.

Councilmember Michelle M. Mills

$150,000 License Section in Public Safety Department

One growing segment of the Columbus economy that exploded in popularity in the last year is the mobile food industry, or food trucks. The City of Columbus has engaged stakeholders to better regulate this industry, bringing food truck owners/operators, the Safety Department, Public Service, the Health Department, and other interested parties to the table to develop easy to understand, common sense rules and regulations to help grow this industry. This $150,000 budget amendment will allow the Safety Department to hire the personnel needed to assist with the implementation of new regulations for this industry and others they oversee.

Council President Andrew J. Ginther

$50,000 Equal Business Opportunity Commission Office (EBOCO)

The mission of the EBOCO is to find ways to grow small minority, female, and veteran owned businesses in Columbus by helping them connect to the capital and resources, such as workforce training, health care, and pension programs, they need to be successful. This amendment will help EBOCO meet those goals and begin an aggressive outreach program to help EBOCO’s target clients become more competitive when bidding for non-city related projects.