Ravenna hopes the grant will boost downtown cars and shops

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Ravenna has applied for a grant to install electric car chargers in a city parking lot, something city leaders hope will boost downtown businesses.

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Economic Development Director Dennis West said he applied for a grant through the Ohio EPA, which is funded by the Volkswagen Mitigation Trust Fund. The grant would pay up to $15,000 for a port that would charge two electric vehicles in the city’s Meridian Street parking lot. Since the parking lot is owned by the city, no dedicated funds are required.

Electric vehicle charging station at WalMart in Streetsboro.

West noted that while there aren’t many electric cars in the area right now, the grant gives the city a chance “to get at the forefront of the trend.” He also pointed out that LG Chem, a company that makes batteries for electric cars, is building a plant in Ravenna.

A charging port in Ravenna, he said, would make the city a destination for those who need to charge their vehicles. West said he’s also working to attract restaurants and “medium-sized” retailers to the city so customers, including those charging their vehicles, spend their money at local stores.

Electric vehicle charging station at WalMart in Streetsboro.

“It’s time we move on and make Ravenna a destination,” he said.

City council members noted that they had seen many commercials for electric vehicles during the recent Super Bowl and wondered if charging stations could help the city capture this market in the future.

A map on Chargehub.com shows locations in Ohio where motorists can find a place to charge their electric vehicle.  Ravenna guides point out that there is a blank spot on the map between the Kent and Warren areas.

Ravenna City Council President Andrew Kluge noted that a map on Chargehub.com lists several places in the Kent area where people can charge vehicles, but none in the area between there and the Warren area.

“This could be a prime location,” he said.

Kent has 7 charging stations across the city including one on the Kent Central Gateway car park deck and 3 locations on the Kent State University campus.

Electric vehicle charging station in Heer Hall at Kent State University.

Charging stations are also located at Aurora, the city’s Walmart, and the Walden Inn; at Streetsboro’s Walmart, Quality Inn and Nissan of Streetsboro; and in several Summit County cities, including Cuyahoga Falls, Stow, and Akron.

Councilwoman Cheryl Wood predicted the charging stations could spur people to patronize downtown businesses while their vehicles charge. She said the city needs to start enforcing its parking restrictions to ensure cars don’t park in the spots designated for vehicle charging.

Electric vehicle charging station in Heer Hall at Kent State University.

“If I have to plug my vehicle into an outlet for 15 minutes to charge it, I’ll find something to do while I wait,” she said.

The EPA grant requires homeowners to pay 20 percent of the applicable funds if they intend to install charging equipment on commercial properties.

Electric vehicle charging station in Heer Hall at Kent State University.

West said the city expects to know in July whether it received the grant.

Reporter Diane Smith can be reached at [email protected]

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