LIMA — A new website could be a valuable tool for those hoping to bring state and federal dollars to town.The website, managed by the Regional Planning Commission, provides data about all aspects of life in Allen County in one, easy-to-navigate place. The site — at http://LACRPC.com — compiles data from a range of state and federal sources covering health, education, economy, environment, public safety and more. While it is information that has always been available, this is the first time it has all been available in one place and organized and placed in context with state and federal figures.“The data is very deep, it’s very specific, and it is written so that the average layman can use it,” said Tom Mazur, director of RPC.The website is the result of nearly 15 months of work and conversations between leaders of a variety of local businesses and social service groups. That conversation started with a phone call from Janis Sunderhaus, executive director of Allen County Health Partners. She noted that the national Affordable Health Care Act unfolding in coming years will include money for communities, but only communities that are prepared to ask for it.“Janis called and asked, ‘Are we positioned well for when that money becomes available?’ That’s when we began the dialogue about what we needed to do,” said Jerry Courtney, director of the Lima YMCA and one of the committee members. The group decided its first step would be to meet with members of government, the hospitals and various social service groups and make sure they were all on the same page. They met regularly, aligning their goals and developing strategies for improving the general health of the community. Their second step was to develop the website, a depository for the communities vital statistics.The website will be a valuable tool for grant writers and groups who want to use real numbers to develop strategies for community programming. In addition to the basic figures and source, it includes what its designers call the Community Dashboard, with an icon next to each figure that shows how Allen County fares in comparison to state and national averages. Click on the icon, and it provides detailed information on the subject, resources and details on programs other communities have used to improve outcomes.The site was developed by the California-based Healthy Communities Institute. The original bill — about $80,000, according to Mazur — was split between the groups who helped develop it. They have contracted with the Healthy Communities Institute to maintain the site for another $20,000 a year. RPC employees will input fresh data as it becomes available.The site has already paid for itself in the form of two grants received in recent weeks, secured, in part, with the help of data provided by the site, Mazur said. Last month, the city received a $100,000 grant through the national Conference of Mayors to help battle obesity and provide healthy food options throughout the community.“The mayor’s obesity grant alone was $100,000. If I look for cost-benefit analysis, we’ve already exceeded the initial investment,” Mazur said. You can comment on this story at www.LimaOhio.com.