Commissioners OK ARPA grant funds for Oddfellows


The Scioto County Commissioners this week approved the dispersal of American Rescue Plan funds to the local business Oddfellows, a restaurant in the Boneyfiddle section of Portsmouth.

The funds should help the Second Street business recoup part of the investment the owners made into the downtown area.

“I’m willing to say they put $3 million into that building and establishment,” said Scioto County Commission Chair Bryan Davis.

He said the business had requested a grant in order to purchase more equipment and hire more employees. With the use of American Rescue Plan funds, it means that grant will not come from the county’s general fund.

“There was a reward given — $50,000 out of the grant,” Davis said. “That will help them do that (purchase equipment and hire workers). It’s been a long time coming.”

Commissioner Scottie Powell said the restaurant has been a great addition to Boneyfiddle, even if it’s often too crowded for him to get in the door.

“It is a great adition to Second Street, it’s packed all the time. I hope the line stays out the door, but at the same time — selfishly — I’d like to go to brunch,” Powell said. “It’s been packed very time we drive by. It’s a neat space, they continue to invest in our local economy. We know they’ll put it to good use.”

The Commissioners said the American Rescue Plan funds from the federal government have been the saving grace for many businesses that came close to the brink during darkest times of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn.

“We were very blessed in that … I don’t even know of one business that went out during that time. I don’t know if that was directly related to the pandemic. We infused right at $1 million to local business,” Davis said. “There were a lot of restaurant owners that were right on the verge of going out and that little amount, that $5,000 or $10,000 made the difference and that was all grant money. That didn’t come out of the general funds.”

The grants may not have been very large, but they often were just enough to make a huge difference.

“When we were able to award those dollars, the look on some of those business owners faces — it was their lifeline,” Davis said.

The ARPA grant funds throw “a little bit of gas on the fire and they’re able to go a little further,” Powell said.

The building now housing Oddfellows had a catastrophic collapse of the front facade, which had to be repaired and made sound. The building, in one fo the oldest parts of the city, now houses a successful business that employs dozens and used a local contractor for the renovation and restoration work.

“It worked and it was a lot of hard work to make sure that happened, but kudos to the bueinss owners and the property,” Davis said. “That’s the building that had the face of the building fall off. Thats the same building. It was a lot of money they spent to make that building right.”

Powell also pointed to another local business, Keeney’s Kitchen, as evidence for the successful local use of ARPA funds. Keeney’s Kitchen is a food prep company that also feeds the Marshall University football team and has a deal with The Ohio State University. ARPA funds were granted by the county for that business to purchase a van.

“These are local entrepreneurs coming to our area and investing in the community. We need to keep iour talent here and investing in our area,” Davis said.

Reach Lori McNelly at [email protected] or at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1928. © 2024 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

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