The Historic Greene County Courthouse. (Photo by Dean Curtis)

Community groups with big ideas to improve the quality of life in Greene County are invited to apply for part of the $56.9 million in federal pandemic-relief funding to be awarded by the Greene County Commission.

The commission announced Monday it plans to set aside part of its American Rescue Plan Act funding for a community improvement program aimed at projects designed to leave lasting benefits in Greene County and to benefit people affected in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Entities or organizations may apply for ARPA funding through the Greene County community improvement program. Proposals will then be assessed and selected for presentation to the commission.

According to a statement from the Greene County Commission, projects must involve capital expenses, sometimes expenses paid out over more than one year. The projects that qualify for funding would not otherwise be funded or doable without assistance from Greene County.

“It is anticipated these projects may require a minimum threshold of $500,000 to substantially implement,” the statement reads “These projects must strongly respond to pandemic impacts and improve the quality of life and public wellbeing of Greene County residents.”

The applicants for funds must also show that their project benefits underserved and underrepresented persons in Greene County in some way.

The Greene County Commission’s statement adds that projects will likely need “additional layers of funding” beyond ARPA money. Therefore, applicants will be required to demonstrate some commitment if other funding is needed.

Deadline March 18; learn more this Wednesday

Requests for proposals for the Greene County ARPA community improvement program are due by 5 p.m. on March 18. Requests for proposals may be sent by email to: ARPinfo@greenecountymo.gov. These emails go to Lyle Foster, Greene County ARPA Grant and Equity Specialist. If applicants need to mail their proposals, they are asked to call 417-799-1563. 

There will be a virtual meeting for people needing help or technical assistance with drafting and submitting proposals at 2 p.m. Wednesday (March 9) at https://meet.goto.com/GCCommissionOffice.

Other organizations, including nonprofits and small businesses, whose projects don’t meet the requirements for the community improvement program will be able to apply for ARPA funding from Greene County at a later date. Small business and nonprofit funding application procedures are still being written, and are scheduled for release sometime in the spring of 2022, according to the Greene County Commission.

ARPA is a $1.9 trillion federal aid package passed by Congress in March 2021. It provides financial aid to governments, businesses, organizations, schools and families caught in negative economic consequences as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The state of Missouri is set to receive a total of $2.7 billion, of which Greene County will get $56.9 million.

Governments may use ARPA funds to respond to the public health emergency of the COVID-19 pandemic or its negative economic effects, provide premium pay to eligible employees, invest in water, sewer or broadband communication infrastructure or extend governmental services otherwise reduced by the effects of COVID-19.

Governments may not use the funds to offset losses in tax revenue, make deposits into worker pension funds, pay off debts, fund legal settlements or deposit money into reserve funds.

By law, ARPA funds must be allocated by Dec. 31, 2024, and spent by Dec. 31, 2026.

A September 2021 survey revealed top priorities for American Rescue Plan Act funding in Greene County. The Greene County Commission says it will take these priorities into account to determine how to distribute $56.9 million in federal ARPA funding.

On its website, the Greene County Commission lists a prioritized set of needs that could be addressed through American Rescue Plan Act funding. The priorities are based on a survey conducted in September 2021.

“All of those needs assessment priorities will be taken into account when applications are submitted and reviewed,” Lyle Foster, Greene County ARPA Grant and Equity Specialist, said in an email to the Springfield Daily Citizen. “This is explained in the application packet that prospective applicants receive. While this is not the only criteria to be evaluated, it certainly plays an important role as we evaluate which applicants will be invited to present to the Commission for the next stage of consideration.”

The priorities are:

  • mental health services
  • affordable housing
  • services for unhoused persons
  • small business economic assistance
  • assistance to nonprofit organizations
  • household food programs
  • broadband
  • childcare and services to foster youth
  • water and sewer
  • substance use services
  • aid to tourism, travel and hospitality industry
  • education assistance to early learning

Rance Burger

Rance Burger covers local government for the Daily Citizen. His goal is to help people know more about what projects their government is involved in, and how their tax dollars are being spent. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia with 15 years experience in journalism. Reach him at rburger@sgfcitizen.org or by calling 417-837-3669. Twitter: @RanceBurger More by Rance Burger