On Tuesday, the Nevada County Board of Supervisors unanimously allocated 30% of the County’s $19.3 Million allocation from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), approximately $5.8 Million, to support “Community & Economic Resiliency.” The $5.8 Million is intended to offset COVID-19 related economic hardships and disruptions to local businesses and nonprofits and foster economic recovery.
“As a Board, we intend to help our community recover from this pandemic. With these American Rescue Plan dollars from Washington, we can provide some immediate relief to our small businesses and nonprofits that have suffered so much already, and invest in longer-term recovery,” said Board Chair Dan Miller.
The Board distributed the $5.8 Million allotment into three “pots,” comprising four grants programs and a new revolving loan fund. County staff plans to bring back specific recommendations in late May about the criteria and application process for Board approval before funds are expended that are consistent with U.S. Department of Treasury guidelines.
$2.5 Million for “Relief and Recovery”
The “Community Benefit Grants Program” will be funded with up to $2 Million to support community-serving institutions and organizations with macro-grants up to $100,000. Eligible entities that serve families, seniors, or the community at large would be eligible to apply.
“So many of our community centers, family resource centers, and other places that are the heart and soul of our rural communities have barely held on during this crisis. Many of them rely on producing fundraisers to pay their bills but closed to stop the spread of infection. I’m hopeful that this grant will get these groups back on their feet, with their doors open, serving the residents and families in the community,” said Vice-Chair Sue Hoek.
Small businesses will once again be eligible to apply for micro-grants up to $5,000 from the “Nevada County Relief Fund.” The County’s infusion of $250,000 will fund a fifth round for the Relief Fund, which has raised over $1.35 Million over the past year, helping dozens of small businesses and nonprofits countywide.
Small businesses will also be eligible to apply for low-interest loans from the “Resilience Fund,” a revolving loan fund administered by the Sierra Business Council. The County plans to seed the loan fund with $250,000.
$2.5 Million for “Infrastructure Improvements for Economic Development”
The Board set aside up to $2.5 Million for a new “Nevada County Economic Recovery Funds.” These funds will advance economic development and community resiliency by investing in infrastructure improvements such as broadband expansion, housing development, wildfire mitigation, and water and sewer systems.
“These one-time funds provide a real opportunity to leverage other grants by providing ‘match’ dollars so that critical infrastructure projects are more competitive and ‘shovel-ready,’” said Kristin York, Vice President of the Sierra Business Council, the County’s contracted economic development partner.
York suggests that a good use for these limited grants is to fund the “next phase” of infrastructure planning, design, and permitting in order to increase project readiness.
$800,000 for “Visitor Safety at Outdoor Recreation Destinations”
The past year highlighted the intensity of visitor impacts at river crossings and major trailheads. The $800,000 for “Nevada County Outdoor Recreation and Visitor Safety Funds” will provide resources to enhance public safety and economic development by investing in programs and infrastructure at the County’s most heavily used outdoor recreation destinations. County funds could be used for facility improvements like restrooms and parking lots; for safety patrols and emergency call boxes; and for coordinated planning to identify priority projects and get them “shovel ready” as additional funds become available.
“While we locals love to get outside, our many recreational sites have become major destinations for visitors from around the state and the world. While increased visitation is good for the economy, we need to protect our rivers and open spaces or risk seeing them ‘loved to death,’” said Supervisor Heidi Hall, who co-chairs the South Yuba River Public Safety Cohort.