Colley explained funding was freed up this year by use of American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, funds for expenses directly related to COVID-19. In this case, general fund money was made available by using ARPA funds to reimburse the sheriff’s department for salary time spent directly related to COVID activities.
The commission will be asked to hire Management Resources of Columbus to conduct the community-wide needs assessment.
Among the goals are to provide a broader perspective on challenges facing county residents, the county workforce, employers, housing developers; more in-depth details on housing needs; a vision for addressing needs and housing gaps; and suggestions to address other community challenges that may be identified. The process would involve focus groups, interviews, surveys and a final report with recommendations, according to the proposed agreement.
The consultants would work with the countywide workforce committee and with private sector members while conducting their work, said Rich Osgood, county development director.
More work is coming on the 2023 elements of the project based on the needs identified in the assessment. Work has been ongoing on developing the revolving loan program format.
The focus of the revolving loan program will be to assist in the unincorporated areas of the county, but likely not exclusively, said Michael Clarey, assistant county development director.
“We haven’t come up with a comprehensive eligibility list yet,” he said. “These policies and strategies still have to be formulated.”
When the county initially received ARPA funding that will total more than $20 million, discussion included looking at a revolving loan program among that funding’s use. However, because of ARPA’s “very prescriptive” guidelines for use of program money, a new direction for funding a revolving loan program has been taken, Clarey said.
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