County aims to ensure all relief applications get appropriate consideration
Because of overwhelming demand for a program that provides relief to businesses and nonprofits impacted by the pandemic, Richland County is taking extra steps to equitably distribute $16 million in available funding.
In August, the County was allocated the funding through the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to distribute to local businesses and nonprofits negatively affected by COVID-19. When the application period closed in October, the County had received 427 applications for funding, with requests totaling more than $107 million.
“Because we had such a successful application period with many important projects brought to our attention, the County’s Coronavirus Ad Hoc Committee made the decision to slow things down to maintain integrity in the funding process,” said Councilwoman Gretchen Barron, District 7. Barron serves as chair of the committee.
Richland County hired third party vendor Guidehouse, formerly Grant Thornton, to assess and score applications based on U.S. Treasury requirements for the funding.
As outlined last week during County Council’s meeting, all businesses and nonprofits that scored 15 out of a possible 25 on a risk assessment of U.S. Treasury compliance measures will now be evaluated according to the County’s approved scoring rubric. Those applicants will then be considered for allocation of funding by category.
“Guidehouse will help us determine which projects best meet the guidelines we outlined prior to the start of the application process,” Barron said. “This will allow us to utilize these funds to best meet the needs in our community.”
Categories and total funding amounts available for each include:
- Small businesses – $1 million
- Nonprofits – $1 million
- Workforce training – $1 million
- Education assistance – $1 million
- Home repairs for seniors – $1 million
- Youth and recreational services – $1 million
- Addressing food insecurity – $2 million
- Broadband services in underserved areas – $2 million
- Services for unhoused people – $2 million
- Affordable housing – $4 million
The County anticipates the process will be complete and Guidehouse’s recommendations ready for Council consideration in February 2023. Applicants can follow County Council meeting agendas to find out when funding is awarded. Once the process is complete, all applicants will be notified of their application status.
Learn more about ARPA on Richland County’s website: www.richlandonline.com/arpafunding.