ARPA: New Bedford Supporting the Arts and Culture Sector

With the goal of helping artists and arts and culture organizations emerge stronger from the pandemic than they were before, the Mayor Jon Mitchell and the city of New Bedford allocated over $1.1 million of its ARPA funds three separate initiatives: Wicked Cool Places, Art is Everywhere, and ARTnet.

Wicked Cool Places and Art is Everywhere are pre-existing programs designed to build the arts and culture sector in New Bedford through direct grants to artists and organizations, prioritizes creative placemaking and place-keeping projects and arts-based economic development projects that advance diversity. Unique to the ARPA-supported funding rounds, these programs will also prioritize projects that provide creative arts-based solutions to pandemic-related challenges, such as projects that enhance the use of outdoor spaces.

ARTnet—a new initiative by NBCreative—is an artist recovery and training network, providing economic and professional support for artists to create a sustainable business in a post-COVID economy. The goal of ARTnet is to help artists recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic by providing financial support, business planning support, training workshops, and access to a network of creative entrepreneur peers. NBCreative plans to support 100 artists over the life of the grant.

ARPA: La Mesa CA, Invests in Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs

La Mesa City Councilmember Colin Parent and the City Council allocated over $800,000 in American Rescue Plan dollars to support existing small business’ recovery and help entrepreneurs and new startups open storefronts in the city. Participants in the La Mesa Entrepreneurship Accelerator Program (LEAP) are eligible to receive up to $20,000 in grants as well as personalized start-up training programs. With storefronts emptied after the pandemic, the LEAP program will support local entrepreneurs and help improve economic prosperity within the community. 

La Mesa is also using ARPA funds for the recently released Façade and Property Improvement Grant Program. The two-year pilot program will support La Mesa businesses in completing exterior improvements to business-use properties. Participants are eligible for up to $25,000 in grants to use for existing property improvements such as adding a permanent awning, outdoor patio, or mural.

ARPA: Stamford CT, Supports Small Businesses Impacted by the Pandemic

Stamford Mayor Caroline Simmons earned unanimous support from the Board of Finance to use $1.5 million of the city’s American Rescue Plan Act money to create a grant program for small businesses that have taken a financial hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is expected to help around 200 small businesses with grants of up to $7,500 to help with payroll, commercial lease or mortgage payments, and other critical expenses. Simmons hopes to announce grant recipients in May of 2023.

ARP: HartLift Program Supports in New Small Businesses

Hartford, CT Mayor Luke Bronin partnered with the Hartford Chamber of Commerce created the “Hart Lift” Program to support the activation of storefronts left vacant during the COVID-19 pandemic.  With the assistance of American Rescue Plan funding, this $6 million program provides funding available for retail spaces both in downtown and on neighborhood commercial corridors. Property owners with vacant storefronts are eligible for grants up to $150,000 with matching landlord/tenant investments. Grants can be used for interior and exterior buildout costs for new businesses opening in new or existing ground floor retail spaces. To date, there have been sixty recipient businesses in neighborhoods across the city.

ARP: Shelby County TN, Grant to Bolster Healthcare Workforce

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris announced a $14 million Public Health Workforce and Infrastructure Grant from the American Rescue Plan to upskill and retain its public health workforce. This grant will allow the Shelby County Health Department (SCHD) to develop and implement a workforce development plan, including educational opportunities for employees to expand their education in graduate and certificate public health programs (3 doctorates, 5 masters, and 5 certifications). Additionally, the grant will help SCHD perform ongoing data assessments to monitor workforce needs, enhance diversity among its workforce, and partner with community organizations for competency training to better address health inequities and disparities in the community.

ARP: Lincoln NE, New Workforce Training Opportunities

Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird is supporting workers through over $12 million in additional Workforce Development Grants that went to helping low-wage workers and youth enter into sectors with a clear connection to workforce demands. These programs have served over 350 persons collectively, with only a quarter of the funds have been spent so far. Other program highlight include a strong interest in the Child Development Associate Credential program; nursing students impacted by the pandemic receiving scholarships to complete their degrees; and 75 high school students have accessed Future Ready skills. Gaylor Baird anticipate these programs will be growing exponentially in 2023 and has partnered with University of Nebraska Public Policy Center to analyze the first year of data collection to improve the impact of the program.

“Ensuring workers have access to rewarding and financially secure careers that enable them to provide for themselves and their families is a top priority,” said Gaylor Baird. “Ensuring businesses and organizations can secure the workforce they need to be successful and grow our local economy is an equally important priority. Backing these priorities with significant funding from the American Rescue Plan is a win-win for Lincoln’s workers and employers. These awards represent major investments in workforce development for key industries in our community including childcare, the health sciences, information technology, manufacturing, welding, and youth employment.”

ARP: Oakland County MI, Workforce Programs Helps Cover Costs of School/Trainings

Since launching a program in May 2022, Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter‘s Oakland80 initiative continues to be successful in placing Career and Education Navigators throughout the county. By removing the barriers to education and training, the initiative has worked hand-in-hand with the Oakland County Michigan Works! local workforce development office to help county residents on their journeys toward successful careers. In their first seven months of working with residents, the Oakland80 navigators have connected with more than 700 residents at more than 200 events around Oakland County and provided in-depth counseling, coaching, and education services to almost 200 people.

Oakland County also allocated American Rescue Plan Act funding to provide direct education and employment supports to residents. Since November 2021, 379 people have received Supportive Services which removed 572 barriers which had prevented them from participating in education, training, and employment related activities. This effort has included support for educational materials, books, fees, housing, transportation, work-related tools and expenses, and more. Oakland County also initiated scholarship programs that not only cover the cost of education, but also the childcare costs that cause so many students to struggle to continue their studies. Since November of 2021, 642 people have received child care scholarships and 295 have gotten education scholarships.

Impact Testimony:

  • The navigators assisted a low-income single mother and post-secondary student, who was working part-time as a housekeeper. Because of COVID, the hospitality industry was hit hard, and the woman had her hours reduced. She had difficulty keeping up with payments and fell behind on her utilities. The staff was able to assist with supportive services and other resources so that she could stay in her housing, pay her utilities and continue her education and training. She received an associate’s degree last year, got a job as a Child Care Specialist and enrolled in a Bachelor of Social Work program in the fall. 
  • An unemployed youth completed a 12-week Robotics training at Oakland Community College that was paid for through a partnership with Oakland County Michigan Works! When he graduated from the training, he was offered a job as an auto body collision apprentice, with Oakland80 purchased the tools for him. He got the job once the apprenticeship was over.
  • A part-time employee and full-time post-secondary student was on the verge of having to drop out of school in her last semester of an associate’s degree program in nursing because of an accumulated student loan debt of more than $4,500. An honor student, Oakland80 and Michigan Works teamed up to help cover the tuition costs, fees, loan debt, books, testing and licensing. She received a Registered Nurse License from the State of Michigan in July and found employment at a hospital in August.

ARP: Boise Announced the Opening of the Boise Small Business Grant Program

Mayor Lauren Mclean announced the opening of the Boise Small Business Grant Program. Mayor McLean helped lead the effort to appropriate $2 million in American Rescue Plan funds for the program, which aims to support over 250 small businesses with $4,000 mini-grants. The city is partnering with the nonprofit United Way to strategically target small businesses that were directly impacted by the pandemic but had difficulty accessing other relief funds.

ARP: Birmingham spending plan for over $40 million approved by the City Council

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin’s spending plan for over $40 million of American Rescue Plan funds was approved by the City Council. The city said the money will be used for an affordable housing trust fund, blight removal, healthy food initiatives, grant matches, and other projects.

As reported by ABC 30/40, “’These dollars will be transformational for our city,’ said Birmingham Mayor Woodfin. ‘Thanks to the support of our city council, we will be able to further build up our communities and support our residents and businesses in a number of ways.’”

ARP: Louisville KY, Pre-Apprenticeship Programs Provides Jobs in Financial Crisis

The White House touted Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s efforts on workforce training at a summit on the American Rescue Plan and the Workforce. With $40 million in ARPA funds set aside to support workforce development, the mayor spoke at the event about the growth of Kentuckiana Builds, a pre-apprenticeship program that teaches specialized construction skills. “What so many people need is just a little bit of help, but city governments are strapped financially and what the ARPA funds have been able to do is take our dreams and turn them into reality,” Fischer said. Mayor Fischer hopes the program will help fill the need for construction workers in Louisiana as well as support participants through the financial crisis. Fischer used ARPA funds to serve additional participants, including wraparound services for underinvested communities such as formerly incarcerated individuals.