Recently, we have been diving into what the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 can mean for our community. ARPA is a $1.9 trillion federal coronavirus relief funding package that will deliver funding at the federal, state and local levels. Through ARPA allocations to local government, Bloomington will receive about $22.27 million, Ellettsville will receive about $1.41 million and Monroe County will receive about $28.79 million.
Based on federal guidelines, funds can be used to: (1) Respond to the public health emergency or its negative economic impacts; (2) Provide premium pay to eligible essential workers; (3) Replace lost government revenue; and (4) Make necessary investments in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure.
Communities might use these one-time funds now for recovery, but then pivot to more transformative investments for the future. This recommendation came from Brad Whitehead, who delivered the keynote at the Bloomington Economic Development Corp.’s recent 2021 State of the Bloomington Regional Economy, which also featured updates from local government leaders. Whitehead has studied and worked with numerous communities as senior adviser for special projects at the Fund for Our Economic Future, and nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program. He recommended that communities tie these investments to existing strategies, focus on long-term sustainability, utilize partners and build capacity.