American Rescue Plan: NE Indiana Community Impact Meeting

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. 

Community Development

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?
  • Community Q&A

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 region3a@region3a.org for virtual meeting details. 

2021 Opportunities for Northeast Indiana Community Planning

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.

Transportation 

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. 
  • Traffic Counts – Functional Class, Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) railroad safety.
  • 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.

Indiana’s Coronavirus Relief Fund Program

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.

Funding Options for Indiana Drinking Water Projects

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.

OCRA 

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.

Urgent Need 

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. 

  1. The project must address an emergency situation
  2. 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.

USDA

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
  • Subordination
  • Loans can be combined with various funding sources
  • More Information

If you’re looking for more information on available water funding, contact us at region3a@region3a.org to learn about the best options for your community.

COVID-19 Regional Planning and Recovery

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. 

Reliable Information 

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 region3a@region3a.org.

Transportation Grant Programs

Our transportation department works to improve local road conditions and offers the resources needed for transportation grant planning.

We’ve added information on some available grants. Find all of the details on these programs under the Transportation Grant Opportunities section of the website.

Community Crossing Matching Grant

A partnership between INDOT and Hoosier communities, both urban and rural, to invest in infrastructure projects that catalyze economic development, create jobs, and strengthen local transportation networks.

Local Public Agency Programs Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA)

The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) issues a project call for local rural projects. Funding is available for PLA’s interested in any type of new project including: bridge, road, safety, sidewalk or any type of project that is eligible under the federal transportation highway bill  (FAST Act). 

Local Tax Matching Grant

The rail overpass program provides grants to cities, towns and counties bodies for grade separation, crossing closure and other safety enhancement projects at rail-highway intersections on local roads.

Funding for this program is provided through changes in HEA 1002 effective July, 2017.

Highway Safety Improvement Program

The program provides remediation for six types of accidents.  The countermeasures are detailed in the Indiana Strategic Highway Plan (SHSP). This program applies to areas that display a higher than normal rate of fatal and incapacitating injury accidents.

Safe Routes to School

The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) administers the Safe Routes to School Program (SRTS).  This program provides for the construction and/or improvement of sidewalks that lead to schools.  program has been combined with the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP).