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Agency expands, buys former bus station

Energy program has outgrown its downtown Springfield location.

A local non-profit organization will expand its energy assistance program to a new location downtown, filling a long vacant building.

Opportunities for Individual Change of Clark County, 10 S. Yellow Springs St., will move its Home Energy Assistance Program, or HEAP, into the former Greyhound bus station, 600 W. Main St.

The HEAP program serves between 4,000 and 5,000 residents per year, said OIC Executive Director Mike Calabrese. He said the program has outgrown the space at OIC’s headquarters.

“It’s too big of a drain on this facility,” Calabrese said. “Parking becomes an issue, space becomes an issue. It’s a better way to operate the program.”

Center City Association Interim Executive Director Elaine Morris Roberts said any time a downtown structure is put into reproductive use, it breathes new life into the building and the neighborhood.

“Any time any one is willing to make an investment in a downtown structure, it’s a positive thing,” Morris Roberts said.

The federally funded energy assistance program aids residents who face having their utilities disconnected or individuals who participate in percentage of income programs with utility companies. The program receives about $610,000 in funding per year.

“Those are the two main services we provide,” Calabrese said.

The station was built in 1976, but has sat vacant since Greyhound closed its operation in 2005. Greyhound moved, now operating at a stop in the Southern Village Shopping Center at Selma Road and Sunset Avenue.

OIC spent $70,000 to purchase the property, and expects to spend another $25,000 on renovations, including a new roof.

“The building is well-suited for what we want,” Calabrese said.

As many as eight employees will work from that location, Calabrese said.

The site was ideal, he said, because it remains close to OIC’s headquarters and offers plenty of paved parking. The agency also wanted to keep the location near downtown.

“We wanted to stay in the general vicinity of downtown so it’s centrally located,” Calabrese said.

According to its tax records, OIC brought in about $3.2 million in revenue in 2011, most of which comes from contributions and grants from the federal government. The nonprofit — which has a mission of eliminating poverty, unemployment and illiteracy in Clark County — also runs an ex-offender program, job placement assistance and an alternative high school from its current location.

“By having its own location, (the HEAP program) may be even more useful for customers who need the help,” Calabrese said.

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