Changes are rampant – new funding will result in even more
Change is occurring incredibly fast – so fast, in fact, it is somewhat challenging to keep up with everything.
COVID data is more positive, an extremely encouraging shift. Congress has approved billions in funding for citizens, schools, hospitals, and state and local governments – more welcome news. First-time programs, resources, and funding are available for initiatives linked to sustainability, citizen services, and public good. It’s important to understand the changes because they are funded by taxpayer revenue.
New grant programs have emerged along with tax incentives for private sector investment in selected types of public projects. Infrastructure reform is a hot topic, and Congress is expected to address the country’s aging infrastructure in even more significant ways very soon. That will create fresh opportunities.
Congress has approved funding for several new programs, and one that is definitely worthy of notice, has received too little attention. The Build America Bureau, a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, has launched a visionary initiative to establish regional infrastructure accelerator centers throughout the U.S. Surprisingly, the program has not received the type of visibility it deserves, so read closely because this is important news!
The Build America Bureau has been allocated funding for a program designed to encourage and support infrastructure reform in America. To accomplish that, funding is available to select and stand up three to five infrastructure accelerator centers. Regional entities are invited to compete for the right to host and operate a federally funded infrastructure accelerator center. Applications from interested parties must be submitted before March 31.
The accelerator program’s objective is to expedite the delivery of infrastructure projects. Regional sites that are selected will receive funding to support operations and provide resources to public entities launching large projects. The center will exist to assist public officials and governmental entities with innovative financing, project delivery, best practices, and tools.
The centers will be placed in both urban and rural regions. Eligible applicants include cities, counties, special purpose districts, tribal governments, metropolitan planning organizations, and state and local governmental entities. For more information about the program and the application process, visit the Bureau’s webpage.
Economic vitality and job creation will get another boost from a provision in the American Rescue Plan that provides another $10 billion for critical infrastructure projects at the state and local levels of government. Funding for these projects will be used for initiatives designed to enable work, create jobs, promote education and monitor some aspect of health care.
The same new federal bill allocates $500 million in funding for another program designed to assist rural communities. Grant funding will be available to health-care facilities that provide services to address some aspect of COVID. Various types of initiatives, including telehealth projects, will qualify for funding.
School districts will receive more than $125 billion for reopening schools provided a portion of the funding addresses learning loss or various other types of student needs. Another $40 billion will flow to institutions of higher education and $2.75 billion has been set aside for non-public schools that provide services to a significant percentage of low-income students.
The SPI research team is currently preparing a rather massive document that outlines all the new funding sources and the team will track the funding from each program to state and local government entities. Although it is hard to believe, billions of dollars in COVID funding sent to the states almost a year ago is still unspent. The question of ‘why’ languishes unanswered.
Change is occurring despite lingering pandemic concerns, disruptive educational concerns, and significant economic stress throughout the country. This year appears destined to be remembered for the massive changes that are underway. It’s important to stay abreast of the transformation for many reasons, particularly because most are funded with taxpayer dollars.