On March 11th, the American Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 trillion package designed to mitigate the economic effects of COVID-19 was signed. Part of this package is a $350 billion in direct aid to state and local governments. In Indiana, the state will receive $3.2B, and local governments will receive a total of 2.6B.
Unlike the prior CARES Act dollars, which was made available to local governments at the State’s discretion, the ARP aid will be a mandatory distribution.
The American Rescue Plan Act: Northeast Indiana
So what does this mean for our area? Local governments will be receiving funding that is expected to be distributed around mid-May. Qualifications for use of the funding are fairly broad in order to assist their local citizens and businesses that were impacted by COVID-19. Local governments are receiving funding which will allow the money to be used in ways which will directly impact the community.
American Rescue Plan Community Impact Meeting
Region 3A will be hosting a virtual call Friday April 23rd at 10AM for project ideas, questions and regional community discussion. The call will include a representative from Baker Tilly who will be able to discuss which community projects are eligible for ARP Act funding. Community participation is encouraged as we move toward relief in our area. Here, we can get an understanding of what issues are specific to our community and prioritize funding and projects.
General Meeting Items
How will ARP funds be distributed?
When will ARP funds be distributed?
How may ARP funds be used?
What time period does the ARP cover?
Region 3A is committed to assisting the Northeast Indiana community in COVID-19 recovery projects and programs. If you are not on our mailing list and would like to attend this meeting, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for virtual meeting details.
The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) recently announced that they will begin a study to improve the U.S. 30 corridor from Valparaiso to the Ohio state line. The U.S. 30 Coalition received support for the study from Governor Eric Holcomb, INDOT Commissioner Joe McGuinness, and the Northern Indiana legislative delegation.
The Coalition cited a freeway as the best possible solution to improve U.S. 30 due to the safety and economic disadvantages associated with the current structure.
The Planning and Environment Linkages Study
The study will allow INDOT to examine various options to improve the safety, traffic flow, freight movement and economic development potential of the corridor, including the construction of a freeway. INDOT cited that the study will recognize the importance of U.S. 30 remaining a consistent type of roadway and not a series of individual improvements. They also noted that it will not simply examine the quickest or least expensive solution.
The Planning and Environmental Linkage study will examine the route and consider community, economic and environmental goals they evaluate safety and mobility solutions on U.S. 30.
Community Impact and Development
The Coalition credits the northern Indiana business community, who made it clear to Holcomb and his staff that business retention and expansion is at risk without improving U.S. 30 to a freeway. The Coalition will work with INDOT through the study process, making sure that communities’ interests are well represented.
The U.S. 30 Coalition is an advocacy group is leading the effort in upgrading the current roadway to a freeway to be sure that U.S. 30 works for community members, while providing safe travel for drivers.
Region 3-A fully supports the study to determine if the project is warranted based on the impact it could potentially have on improving safety and growing the regional economy.
The start of a new year means that many communities are examining and prioritizing areas for improvement and expansion. While further information on COVID-19 related programs and funding is largely pending at this time, we would like to remind communities of the ongoing opportunities available and how we can assist.
Economic Development Administration
Grants are available for projects related to infrastructure or workforce development that lead to job creation.
Brownfields – Rehabilitation of a site where there are environmental concerns.
Shovel Ready – Assistance in obtaining a shovel ready designation on an industrial site.
EDA – Technical assistance with projects related to public works, economic adjustment, and planning.
Tax Abatements – We can complete all required paperwork for a designating body.
Office of Community and Rural Affairs
Their current grant funding opportunities include projects related to wastewater, drinking water, and stormwater. Also, there are funding opportunities available for certain types of planning activities. We must be able to show a residential benefit to have a competitive grant application.
Wastewater/Drinking Water Program – Up to $700,000 available to improve a community’s wastewater or drinking water infrastructure.
Storm Water Improvement Program – Up to $600,000 to improve a storm water system.
Public Facilities Program – Up to $500,000 available for a project that benefits the community. Projects we have done under this program include community centers, fire stations, libraries, and council on aging facilities. (Temporarily suspended)
Main Street Revitalization Program – Up to $600,000 available to improve a downtown area. Approved activities include streetscapes, façade improvements, and downtown infrastructure. Must be part of an Indiana Main Street organization to qualify. (Temporarily suspended)
Blight Clearance Program – Up to $500,000 available to rehabilitate deteriorated or abandoned downtown buildings, or vacant or unusable industrial sites. (Temporarily suspended)
Planning Grants – Funding that allows for a planning study to take place on any infrastructure projects. Comprehensive plans are also permitted.
COVID-19 Response Grants – Up to $250,000 available to address issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Region 3-A can assist with traffic counts, road reclassification, accident studies, and traffic impact studies. We can also provide technical assistance with grant applications for Community Crossings funding.
Community Crossing Application Preparation – Preparation and staff trained in PASER. Small communities have only a 25% match requirement.
FA3-FA4 Grant Application Preparation – Preparation for submittal by local employees in responsible in charge (ERC).
Road Reclassification Application – Traffic counts and submittal, prerequisite for some FA3-FA4 applications.
Accident Studies – Review accident data and review for possible roadway remediation.
Traffic Impact Reports – Analyze and report on new business impact on existing roadways.
Member Road Safety Audit Review team for Northeast Indiana – Review accident locations and suggest possible remediation.
Region III-A serves an area including Huntington, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, and Whitley counties in Northeast Indiana. If you are interested in securing funding for opportunities in the above categories contact us today. We look forward to a productive 2021 for our area.
The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) announced the third phase of COVID-19 Response Program and it is now open for applications.
OCRA has awarded 112 grants to 62 communities, totaling more than $20.9 million through the COVID-19 Response Program since April to aid communities impacted by the virus.
For this round, eligible applicants include: non-entitlement and entitlement local units of government and can apply for up to $250,000.
Eligible activities include:
Mental health services
Public WiFi locations
Food pantry or bank services
Subsidence payment programs
Grants or loans to businesses to retain low-to-moderate (LMI) jobs
Phase 3 is a competitive process. Communities that received an award in either previous phase may apply again.
Proposals are being accepted until the end of the day Friday, Jan. 29, 2021. Note: applicants are encouraged to submit by 4 p.m. ET as there will be no technical support available after that time. Proposals will be collected by the electronic Grants Management System. Applications are due by Friday, Feb. 26th, 2021 with funding awards being announced on Thursday, April 1st, 2021.
In March, Governor Eric Holcomb issued Executive Order 20-05 that allowed OCRA to redirect Community Development Block Grant funds to assist with COVID-19 needs, based on guidance from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Grant Application Assistance
Region 3-A is here to help communities in the grant application process. The northeast Indiana area is among the areas impacted most by COVID-19. We encourage our communities to take advantage of these grant opportunities, as we can provide application assistance and guidance to improve the chances of receiving funding.
The Economic Development Administration has awarded a $4 million grant to Wabash County, Indiana, allowing them to expand the Heartland Career Center. The new facility will provide adult education/career training in healthcare and advanced manufacturing.
Region 3A worked with Wabash County to help secure EDA grant funding for the facility. The funding will be matched with $1 million in local funds and is expected to help create or retain nearly 150 jobs.
Heartland Career Center
This new facility will be a hub for job training in the Wabash County region, providing the skilled employees that local businesses demand. The project’s location is near an EDA designated “Opportunity Zone” and is expected to continue to drive private investment to the community.
Opportunities from the facility will include workforce training and certifications in areas such as advanced manufacturing, welding and CNC. Space will also be dedicated to simulator training technology.
About Opportunity Zones
Created by President Donald J. Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Opportunity Zones are spurring economic development in economically-distressed communities nationwide. In June 2019, EDA added Opportunity Zones as an Investment Priority, which increases the number of catalytic Opportunity Zone-related projects that EDA can fund to fuel greater public investment in these areas.
We’re pleased to announce that a partnership between Steuben County, the Town of Ashley, and Region 3-A recently received the 2020 Local Government Cooperation Award by the Association of Indiana Counties (AIC). Our group was recognized for the infrastructure expansion project for economic development, working with the town of Ashley.
Region 3-A partnered with Steuben County officials, officials from the town of Ashley. Together we worked to obtain federal and state grants for the development of Brightmark. Ashley was awarded a grant by the Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration to help expand water and sewer access for the new site in development by Brightmark.
Ashley was also awarded $1 million in Community Crossings money for a road, rail crossings and lighting for the Brightmark plant.
The new plant will recycle plastic waste back into fuel and industrial waxes. The innovative company will provide about 130 new jobs for the area. Brightmark is now in the testing phase. It has already produced fuel and is the first commercial scale operation of this type in the nation.
AIC Award Criteria
Counties that win the award must demonstrate that a project meets these criteria:
Demonstrates cooperation between one or more municipalities and county(s)
Positive impact on the community and the participating governmental units; and potential for the activity to serve as a model for other local governments
The Association of Indiana Counties’ Annual Conference was held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The call for the second round of Community Crossings was paused in July in order to monitor the financial outlook due to COVID. However, on Wednesday, Indiana Governor Holcomb and INDOT Commissioner Joe McGuinness announced that the next call for projects in the Community Crossings grant program will open Friday, September 25, 2020.
Information from INDOT
Community Crossings is part of Gov. Holcomb’s Next Level Roads program, a 20-year, fully funded plan to enhance Indiana’s highways and local roads by awarding communities grants for shovel-ready local road construction projects.
Projects eligible for funding through Community Crossings:
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance in connection with road projects
Material costs for chip sealing and crack filling operations
Projects submitted to the Indiana Department of Transportation for funding will be evaluated based on need, traffic volume, local support, the impact on connectivity and mobility within the community, and regional economic significance.
Community Crossings is open to all local government units in the State of Indiana.
Cities and towns with a population of fewer than 10,000 will receive funds using a 75/25 match.
Cities and towns with a population of greater than 10,000 will receive funds using a 50/50 match.
Counties with a population of fewer than 50,000 will receive funds using a 75/25 match.
Counties with a population of greater than 50,000 will receive funds using a 50/50 match.
Over the last four years, the state has awarded more than $730 million in matching funds to support local road and bridge projects around Indiana.
All application materials must be submitted by Friday, October 23, 2020, at 5 p.m. ET. Communities receiving funding for projects will be notified by INDOT later this fall.
If you need technical assistance in applying for Community Crossings funding, please contact us at (260)347-4714.
For more information on the assistance we provide with Community Crossings application preparation, visit our service page.
The State of Indiana received funds from the federal government as part of the CARES Act to address COVID-19-related matters. The state has allocated $300 Million to local municipalities. We have received a few questions on how the funds can be used.
Our friends at the Association of Indiana Counties (AIC) have a page on their website that provides resources to local municipalities on how the CARES Act funds can be used. Click here to go to AIC’s COVID-19 page.
We also want you to know that Region 3-A is here to help you through this very trying time. If we can help answer questions on CARES Act funding please contact us.
About the AIC
The Association of Indiana Counties (AIC) was established in 1957 for the betterment of county government. AIC’s purposes and goals are to seek the betterment of county government through: representation of counties at the Indiana General Assembly; research and dissemination of information; communications through publications and seminars; professional training and educational programs; liaison between counties, state and federal agencies; and technical and managerial assistance.
While there are a number of agencies and groups offering assistance to county government, AIC is the only entity that represents the legislative needs of Indiana counties.
Communities often want to upgrade their drinking water capacity but are limited by available finances. There are loan and grant options available, which allow for projects to be completed in a timely manner.
The funding agencies are aware of the challenges that small towns face. When grants are involved the agency focuses on the financial impact a project will have for a community. When a town chooses a loan option, agencies provide repayment terms that allow for a community to pay back the loan so that residents aren’t drastically impacted with their monthly utility bills.
The items below represent grant and loan options where Region 3-A can provide technical assistance to a community in getting a drinking water project funded.
Wastewater/Drinking Water Program
The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs offers funding for drinking water projects under their wastewater/drinking water program. The funds for this program come from the federal level under Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The funds come to the state as a community development block grant. The state through OCRA disburses the funds to projects that meet eligibility requirements. Communities must submit a grant application to OCRA for consideration. The grant applications are competitive. They typically have two rounds of funding per year. Below is OCRA’s matrix for determining the maximum grant amount available for a project. The local match requirement is at least 20% of the project cost.
OCRA can fund projects under the urgent need designation.
There are two criteria that need to be met for OCRA to consider a project under this designation.
The project must address an emergency situation
The community must demonstrate that no other means of paying for the project exist and that OCRA funds are the only option.
Based on information presented at OCRA continuing education events they have stated this designation has only been used once in the last 40 years.
State Revolving Fund
The State Revolving Fund (SRF) Loan Programs provide low-interest loans to Indiana communities for projects that improve wastewater and drinking water infrastructure. The Program’s mission is to provide eligible entities with the lowest interest rates possible on the financing of such projects while protecting public health and the environment.
SRF also funds non-point source projects that are tied to a wastewater loan. Currently, SRF’s rates are in the low two-percent range.
Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program
Loan term as long as 40 years
Low interest rates
Typically, a loan program, but some of the funds can be used as grant dollars to keep user costs reasonable
Emergency Community Water Assistance Grants
Up to $500,000 available to construct water source, intake or treatment facility
Up to $150,000 available to construct waterline extensions, or repair breaks or leaks
No funds available currently
National Rural Water Association Rural Water Loan Fund
Eligible projects include planning costs, replacing equipment, system upgrades, and disaster recovery.
Loan amount up $100,000 or 75% of the total project cost
Interest rate of 3% and a 10-year term
Emergency loans are 90-day no interest, and immediate turn around on applications
EPA – Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act
Eligible projects include drinking water treatment and distribution, alternative water supply, water recycling projects, and enhanced energy efficiency at drinking water facilities.
A single fixed interest rate is established at closing
Interest rate is not impacted by the borrower’s credit or loan structure
Customized repayment schedules
Long repayment period
Deferred payment – Up to five years
Loans can be combined with various funding sources
As a regional unit of government serving Northeast Indiana, our sole imperative has always been to support the advancement of Northeast Indiana. We have assisted with many community, economic development, transportation and housing projects throughout the region. Now in the midst of the COVID-19 public health crisis, we are working on ways to help our community heal, help area businesses, and assist with economic growth to keep our region moving forward.
Point of Contact
Region 3A has also served as a regional liaison to many state and federal agencies, providing an efficient single point of contact for 6 counties and 32 municipalities. As an agency governed by local county and municipal officials, Region 3A is here to support development and rehabilitation needs.
Our promise to the counties that we serve is that we will always be informed with accurate and up-to-date information on emerging federal, state, local and private sector business support initiatives and programs, and available as a source for information. Now more than ever, we encourage businesses and organizations to reach out to explore options for grants and assistance under our services offerings.
Relief and Moving Forward
Region 3A is developing a plan with local and regional organizations to provide information and help our community receive short-term relief and assistance. We are here to help residents navigate the quick changes of available resources, provide necessary details, and meet deadlines for upcoming relief funding.
If you would like more information on relief funding for businesses as it becomes available, please reach out to us at email@example.com.