EPA Increases 2022 Grant Funding for Brownfields Assessments

Brownfields Assessment Grant programs have always been highly competitive due to limited funding. However, the Environmental Protection Agency has significantly increased the amount of grant funding available for 2022, creating more opportunity for projects. There has never been a better time for communities to apply for brownfields project grant funding. There will be a presentation at our board meeting on June 16th with more details on program requirements.

site certified shovel ready

About Brownfields Assessment Grants 

Assessment Grants provide funding for a grant recipient to inventory, characterize, assess, conduct a range of planning activities. Activities may include the development of site-specific clean-up plans, and the organization of community involvement related to brownfield sites. 

There are two main types of Assessment Grants:

  • Community-Wide Assessment Grants 
  • Site-Specific Assessment Grants

Community-wide Assessment Grants

A Community-wide Assessment Grant is appropriate when a specific site is not identified and the applicant plans to spend grant funds on more than one brownfield site in its community.

An applicant may request up to $500,000 to assess sites contaminated by hazardous substances, pollutants, contaminants (including hazardous substances co-mingled with petroleum), and/or petroleum. The performance period for these grants is three years.

Site-Specific Assessment Grants

When a single site is identified and the applicant plans to only spend grant funds on the designated “site,” a Site-Specific Assessment Grant is the appropriate course of action. 

In these instances, an applicant may request up to $200,000 to assess a site contaminated by hazardous substances, pollutants, contaminants (including hazardous substances co-mingled with petroleum), and/or petroleum.

An applicant may seek a waiver of the $200,000 limit and request up to $350,000 for a site contaminated by hazardous substances, pollutants, contaminants, and/or petroleum. Waiver requests must be based on the anticipated level of contamination, size, or status of ownership of the site. The performance period for these grants is three years.

Resources

For more information on available funding for these programs, visit the EPA Brownfields Assessment Program webpage. As always, Region 3A is available as a resource for questions about the application process.

Region 3A Joins the NIIC Community Navigator Project

Region 3-A is pleased to announce our participation in the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center Inc’s (NIIC’s) “Northeast Indiana Adaptive Community Navigator” project.

WHAT IS THE COMMUNITY NAVIGATOR PROJECT? 

The program, established by the American Rescue Plan Act  of 2021, will use a community navigator approach to help small businesses, with a focus on those owned by veterans, women, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals – including in rural and urban  communities. 

The program consists of a lead “Hub” at the center of a  network of “Spoke” organizations that deploy community advocates to work  with small businesses during economic recovery. Recovery services can  include financial assistance, access to capital supports, contracting and  procurement assistance, marketing, operations, and business development, export and importing, and industry specific training, among other areas of  technical assistance to aid businesses in stabilization and expansion. 

OUR ROLE

Region 3A Development & Regional Planning Commission will in and supporting the in the following ways: 

  • Assistance in initial project planning to ensure that the project optimally addresses the needs of our business constituents, entrepreneurs and our 2020-2024 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy.
  • Coordination and integration of a regional support network including LEDOS, EDOs, and trusted connector organizations for early identification and project SPRINT response for businesses facing business closure risks. 
  • Coordinating with the project team for creating a localized delivery channel for distribution of marketing and program-specific communications and outreach to ensure local businesses know what is available through the program.
  • Coordinating with the HUB and project team for delivering local workshops, training, technical assistance, etc. with local trusted connectors region-wide 
  • Ensuring activities are aligned and congruent with our 2020-2024 CEDS plan and future updates of the plan. 
COMMUNITY BENEFIT

This project is a particularly good fit for this time of crisis in Northeast Indiana and the NIIC’s Adaptive Community Navigator process and toolset for use via Trusted Connectors is a proven way to reach business builders that haven’t been reached before.

The NIIC’s understands the needs of the underserved small business owners in our region, particularly as many of their businesses have been impacted by the pandemic and are now looking to reemerge. In most cases, these needs go far beyond simple quick fixes and money. 

Region 3A is excited to be part of this effort and is now accepting referrals for entrepreneurs and businesses which could benefit from this program. Contact us today for more information on how to get involved!

S.3011 Act Aims for Flexibility in ARP Funding

American Rescue Plan project funding is a topic of discussion and uncertainty for many communities across the country. Current guidelines have many projects have been put on hold as communities experience delays due to restrictions and questioning qualifications for funding. 

Recently, the Senate has unanimously passed the “State, Local, Tribal and Territorial Fiscal Recovery, Infrastructure, and Disaster Relief Flexibility Act” (S. 3011/H.R. 5735). This has now moved to The U.S. House for voting.

Information from the National Association of Counties (NACo) outlines that the Senate-passed legislation can impact America’s counties in three major ways: 

1. Allows increased flexibility for the use of Treasury ARP county dollars, including for eligibility under: 

  • Federal surface transportation infrastructure projects (including non-federal match requirements) 
  • Provision of government services (consistent with Treasury’s rules and guidance for ARP county aid) 
  • HUD Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program 
  • Emergency relief from natural disasters, including negative economic impacts of natural disasters 

2. Modifies eligibility for public lands counties under ARP’s Local Assistance and Tribal Consistency Fund:

  • Clarifies an “eligible revenue share county” is the same as Payment-in-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILT) counties 
  • Redirects $15M (or 1%) from the original $1.5B for public lands “revenue share” counties to U.S. territories 

3. Directs unclaimed Treasury ARP dollars for federal deficit reduction 

  • National Association of Counties | www.NACo.org | October 2021 | 3
  • National Association of Counties | www.NACo.org | May 2021 

S. 3011: State, Local, Tribal and Territorial Fiscal Recovery, Infrastructure, and Disaster Relief Flexibility ActFor America’s counties, enactment of S. 3011 would mean:

$27 billion in new infrastructure flexibility for county ARPA Recovery Funds 

$17 billion in flexibility to carry out U.S. Treasury-defined “government services” 

top view of houses during daytime

Eligible Transportation and Infrastructure Projects 

The bill would allow counties to use the greater of $10 million or 30 percent of their ARPA Recovery Fund allocation for a wide variety of transportation infrastructure projects, including:

  • National Significant Freight and Highway Projects 
  • Federal Lands Transportation Program  
  • National Highway Performance Program  
  • Federal Lands Access Program  
  • Bridge Investment Program  
  • RAISE Grant Program  
  • Surface Transportation Block Grant Program  
  • Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS) 
  • Metropolitan Transportation Planning  
  • TIFIA Program (including repayment of TIFIA loans) 
  • Highway Safety Improvement Program  
  • Urbanized Area Formula Grants  
  • Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program  
  • Fixed Guideway Capital Investment Grants 
  • Territorial and Puerto Rico Highway Program  
  • Formula Grants for Rural Areas  
  • National Highway Freight Program  
  • State of Good Repair Grants  
  • Rural Surface Transportation Grant Program  
  • Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities  
  • Carbon Reduction Program  
  • National Culvert Removal, Replacement, and Restoration  
  • PROTECT Program  
  • Community Development Block Grant  
  • Alternative Fueling Infrastructure  
  • Bridge Replacement, Rehabilitation, Preservation,  
  • Tribal Transportation Program 
  • Protection, and Construction Program

(Bold indicates flexibility)

S. 3011 AT A GLANCE


The legislation would also allow counties to flexibly invest Recovery Funds into projects that are eligible under the Community Development Block Grant:

As always, Region 3A is here to assist your community with planning projects that can move our area forward. If you would like to learn more about eligible ARP project funding and how it can be paired with other funding sources, contact us today.

OCRA Announces Indiana Connectivity Program

Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) recently announced a new program aiming to help more Hoosiers get access to reliable and quality broadband. The Indiana Connectivity Program will assist qualifying residents and businesses that lack access to broadband internet service with service providers and assist in the expense of extending broadband to those locations. This is an excellent opportunity for underserved residents and businesses in our region to get reliable broadband access.

INDOT study

Program Details

The program applies to residential and business locations that are unserved or underserved. Underserved locations are defined as having access to actual speeds less than 25Mbps download and 3Mbps upload. Applications for consideration can be submitted by entering information into the Next Level Connections portal to indicate interest in receiving broadband internet service. 

Internet Service Providers will have the opportunity to review these locations and submit bids to the state on the cost of providing service to these locations. OCRA will evaluate these bids and make awards to the providers whose bid presents the lowest cost to the state for extension of the service. 

Inputting location information into the Next Level Connections portal does not guarantee extension of service. 

business women looking at computer screen

Funding Information

Next Level Connections Broadband Programs have been allocated $270 million in total. The Indiana Connectivity Program is included as part of this larger program. Limits per line extension are set by Indiana Code including a per line extension amount that cannot exceed $25,000 and a per passing amount that cannot exceed $4,800. 

Timeline 

The Indiana Connectivity Program and Next Level Connections online portal will open on Monday Sept. 27, 2021. The bidding and challenge processes must take place before awards can be made. Once made, projects must be completed within 9 months of the contract date. 

Assistance 

Region 3A is proud to be a resource for our area residents and businesses who require reliable internet access. If you need assistance with application or have questions about this program please contact us at region3a@region3a.org

Additional Program Information 

For more information or questions on the Indiana Connectivity Program, please visit in.gov/ocra/broadband/ or call 833-639-8522. 

WWW.IN.GOV/OCRA/BROADBAND

EDA Announces “Investing in America’s Communities” $3 Billion in Funding Immediately

Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo recently announced the “Investing in America’s Communities” programs, in which the Economic Development Administration (EDA) will execute to invest the $3 billion it received from The American Rescue Plan. 

The programs include six individual areas to apply for funding. We anticipate that applications for funding will be highly competitive and want to encourage our NE Indiana communities to seek assistance in preparations. Region 3A specializes in helping communities achieve funding for following two program areas.

adult architect blueprint business

Economic Adjustment Assistance Program

EDA’s American Rescue Plan Economic Adjustment Assistance Program makes $500 million in Economic Adjustment Assistance grants available to communities.

The EDA cites this program as their “most flexible” most flexible, as grants made under this program will help hundreds of communities across the nation. Funds can be used to plan, build, innovate, and put people back to work through construction or non-construction projects designed to meet local needs.

A wide range of technical, planning, workforce development, entrepreneurship, and public works and infrastructure projects are eligible for funding under this program.

Eligible applicants for EDA’s Economic Adjustment Assistance program include a(n):

  • District Organization of an EDA-designated Economic Development District
  • Indian Tribe or a consortium of Indian Tribes
  • State, county, city, or other political subdivision of a State, including a special purpose unit of a State or local government engaged in economic or infrastructure development activities, or a consortium of political subdivisions
  • Institution of higher education or a consortium of institutions of higher education
  • Public or private non-profit organization or association acting in cooperation with officials of a political subdivision of a State

Travel, Tourism & Outdoor Recreation Program

Through the Travel, Tourism & Outdoor Recreation program, EDA is focused on accelerating the recovery of communities that rely on the travel, tourism and outdoor recreation sectors. $750 million of EDA’s American Rescue Plan funds are allocated to support the following efforts:

Competitive Grants include $240 million in funding dedicated to helping communities that have been hardest hit by challenges facing the travel, tourism and outdoor recreation sectors. These funds can be used to invest in infrastructure, workforce or other projects to support the recovery of the industry and economic resilience of the community in the future.

Competitive Tourism Grants 

Eligible applicants for EDA’s Competitive Tourism Grants program include a(n):

  • District Organization of an EDA-designated Economic Development District
  • Indian Tribe or a consortium of Indian Tribes
  • State, county, city, or other political subdivision of a State, including a special purpose unit of a State or local government engaged in economic or infrastructure development activities, or a consortium of political subdivisions
  • Institution of higher education or a consortium of institutions of higher education
  • Public or private non-profit organization or association acting in cooperation with officials of a political subdivision of a State
  • Individuals or for-profit entities are not eligible.

The funding from these programs have the potential to help our community on a large scale. Region 3A is prepared to assist organizations in our area and help to make their grant funding applications highly competitive. For more information on application assistance, contact us today. 


For more information on available funding, visit the American Rescue Plan Programs page on the EDA website. EDA webinars will be held to provide an overview of the American Rescue Plan funding on July 27 and July 29.

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.