Strong project outcomes require an equally strong knowledge of funding, financing, and grant support. We help our clients understand and pursue the resources necessary for project success, whether it’s building a funding and financing strategy, connecting with funding agencies, or positioning a project in a grant application.
Maul Foster & Alongi is partnering with bipartisan, multidisciplinary federal relations firm Crossroads Strategies to provide you the most up-to-date federal news and resources available.
Funding Opportunities and Updates | October 4, 2022
They’re Here! 2023 EPA Brownfields Program Grant Applications
Due November 22, 2022
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has opened its 2023 brownfields grant competition, and applications are due November 22 for the first of five years of elevated funding. For a quick overview of what’s on tap, see this handy table. For grant guidelines, visit EPA’s website featuring Solicitations for Brownfield Grants.
BLUF (bottom line up front):
- Due to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, an unprecedented amount of funding is available this year through federal fiscal year 2026.
- Brownfield grants are competitive—start early (and if you haven’t started, early means now). If this isn’t your year, next year could very well be.
- Reach out, make friends, ask questions! Your best ally is someone who has been there, done that. Writing a grant is like learning a foreign language—each funding source has different requirements and institutional preferences.
FEMA BRIC Grants and FMA Funds
Applications opened September 30, 2022, and will close January 27, 2023
Up to $2.295 billion is available in Building Resilience Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grants that support states, Tribal, and territorial governments as they reduce risks from disasters and natural hazards. Local governments, nonprofits, and special districts can apply as subapplicants. For more information, contact your state hazard mitigation office.
For this year’s BRIC competition, FEMA is prioritizing capacity building activities that enhance the ability of the workforce to expand or improve mitigation assistance. Targeted subcategories are listed below:
- Building codes
- Project scoping
- Hazard mitigation planning and planning-related activities
The Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) program offers support for projects that reduce or eliminate the risk of repetitive flood damage to buildings insured by the National Flood Insurance Program. These can include project scoping, technical assistance, community flood mitigation projects, or structure and property-specific flood mitigation projects.
For more information, visit FEMA’s website featuring hazard mitigation opportunities, and make sure to look at the “before you apply” page for both FMA and BRIC funds.
Funding Opportunities and Updates | August 29, 2022
Dispatches from the 2022 National Brownfields Training Conference in OKC
Bottom line: Brownfield redevelopment amid climate change and shifting economic development needs requires attention to increased complexity.
MFA’s senior planner, Seth Otto, attended the National Brownfields Training Conference in Oklahoma City August 16–19. This is the largest, most comprehensive conference for brownfields redevelopment practitioners in the U.S. Seth sent a dispatch, fresh from the front lines:
- Brownfields grants are coming! US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) brownfields grant guidelines for multipurpose, assessment, revolving loan fund, and cleanup grants are anticipated to be released in mid-September and due in mid-November. Mark your calendars and get started now.
- New priorities in this year’s grant competition. EPA has set aside several million dollars for community wide assessment grants for communities that are first-time grantees. Solar and electric vehicle charging stations may also receive renewed attention as reuse objectives.
- Shovel-ready certification. Cleanup grants will require a shovel-ready letter from the applicant’s state agency indicating that the site is eligible to enter (or has entered) into the state’s voluntary cleanup program and that sufficient characterization has been completed.
- More funding, more grants. EPA has more funding to award this year due to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. See this website for details. MFA Senior Planner Sarah Sieloff is available to brainstorm, discuss, and address questions.
- Hot topics. Planning and community engagement received ample airtime at this year’s National Brownfields Training Conference. EPA recognizes these as critical elements in any brownfield redevelopment project and expects to see more of these in work plans. Among other changes, look for forthcoming guidance from EPA about direct payment to community stakeholders to support engagement in outreach activities. This is likely to be seen as part of meeting environmental justice objectives under the brownfields program.
- Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). A great deal of regulatory uncertainty continues to surround PFAS, and it was a hot topic at this year’s conference with several sessions focused on mitigating risk and taking advantage of cost recovery opportunities.
- Heading to Detroit in 2023. The global pandemic delayed this year’s National Brownfields Training Conference by two years, but EPA is back in the saddle, and the conference is headed to Detroit in 2023. Mark your calendars, and we’ll see you there!
Funding Opportunities and Updates | August 1, 2022
NOAA Transformational Habitat Restoration and Coastal Resilience Grants, Due September 6
$85 million is available in fiscal year 2022 (October 1, 2021 to September 30, 2022) via the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support habitat restoration and coastal resilience. Priorities of this program include the following:
- Rebuilding productive, sustainable fisheries
- Promoting the recovery and conservation of threatened or endangered species
- Using natural infrastructure to reduce flood and storm damage
- Promoting resilient ecosystems and communities
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will prioritize habitat-based approaches that strengthen ecosystems and community resilience. Funding is available to nonprofits; commercial (for-profit) organizations; and Tribal, state, local, and territorial governments. Institutions of higher education are also eligible to apply.
Award amounts range from $1 million to $15 million, with an implementation period of three years. For more information, check out the Transformational Habitat Restoration and Coastal Resilience Grants program webpage.
NOAA Coastal Habitat Restoration and Resilience Grants for Underserved Communities, Due September 30
$10 million in funding is available to support habitat restoration and resilience awards for underserved communities. NOAA will accept proposals between $75,000 and $1 million to support capacity building and implementation activities over a three year period. Through this program, NOAA seeks to build the ability of underserved communities to engage in habitat restoration activities that promote resilient ecosystems and communities.
For more information, check out the Coastal Habitat Restoration and Resilience Grants for Underserved Communities Notice of Funding Opportunity.
USDOT Opens Applications for New Safe Streets and Roads for All Program, Due September 15
Safe Streets and Roads for All is a new federal program funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. With $1 billion available this year and another $4 billion available over the next four years, this program offers planning and implementation grants that support metropolitan planning organizations, local governments, Tribes, and multijurisdictional groups comprised of these entities in:
- Developing or updating a comprehensive safety action plan
- Conducting planning, design, or development activities in support of an action plan
- Implementing projects and strategies identified in an action plan
An action planning grant could include the following:
- Safety analyses of existing conditions and historical trends
- Developing a planning structure, such as a task force or implementation group to oversee action plan development, implementation, and monitoring
- Updating policies and processes to identify opportunities to improve transportation safety
- Strategy and project selection
An implementation grant could include the following:
- Transforming a roadway corridor with safety improvements
- Installing pedestrian safety enhancements
- Conducting public outreach and engagement to identify problem areas
- Implementing speed management strategies
Applications are due September 15, 2022. For more details and a link to the Notice of Funding Opportunity, check out the Safe Streets and Roads for All program webpage.
USDOT Railroad Crossing Elimination Grant Program, Applications Due October 4
Still more funding is available via the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law! In fiscal year 2022 (October 1, 2021 to September 30, 2022), the U.S. Department of Transportation is awarding $573 million to support projects that improve railroad crossings. Funding will be available at roughly this level through fiscal year 2026; eligible applicants include states, local governments, Tribes, ports, metropolitan planning organizations, and multijurisdictional groups comprised of these entities.
These funds can support track relocation; improvement or installation of signals, signs, and other safety devices; overpasses or underpasses; and planning, design, and environmental review for eligible projects. At least 20 percent of available funding will go to rural and Tribal areas.
For more information and the Notice of Funding Opportunity, see the Railroad Crossing Elimination Grant Program webpage.
USDOT Now Accepting Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program Applications, Due October 13
This exciting new program, funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, provides funds for planning and construction to mitigate physical and functional divisions in communities that are caused by highways, roads, railroad tracks, pipelines, airports, and other infrastructure. Read more about this grant in our June 27, 2022, update.
Applications are due October 13. For more information and the Notice of Funding Opportunity, check out the Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program website.
Funding Opportunities and Updates | June 27, 2022
Look Ahead: USDOT Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program
This summer, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) will launch its Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program. This program will provide funding for planning and capital construction to mitigate physical and functional divisions within communities that are caused by highways, roads, railroad tracks, pipelines, airports, and other infrastructure. Funds can be used to investigate the feasibility or proceed with the construction of efforts to remove, retrofit, or mitigate an existing barrier that divides a community and creates barriers to connectivity, mobility, access, or economic development.
Planning efforts might include:
- Studies of traffic patterns and the surrounding street network
- Studies of the capacity of existing transportation networks to maintain mobility needs
- An analysis of alternative roadway designs or other uses for the right-of-way
- Effect of removal, retrofit, or mitigation on safety, and/or the mobility of freight and people
- The anticipated economic impact and any economic development opportunities that would be created by removal, retrofit, or mitigation
- The environmental impacts of retaining or reconstructing the facility and the anticipated effect of the proposed alternative use or roadway design
Capital construction grants can be used for projects for which all necessary studies and planning activities have been completed in preparation to remove, retrofit, mitigate, or replace an existing facility. Replacement projects will focus on developing new facilities that enhance mobility and promote economic development and access.
How much funding is available?
The pilot is funded for the next five years, with $50 million available per year to support planning efforts (grants can fund up to 80 percent of project costs and maximum award amounts are $2 million per recipient), and $145 to 155 million is available to support construction (grants can fund up to 50 percent of project costs, and no less than $5 million per project).
Technical assistance is also available for economically disadvantaged communities. This is not a grant; this is focused help for building organizational or community capacity to engage in transportation planning and identify innovative solutions to infrastructure challenges. Technical assistance is a great way to prepare your community or organization to apply for these funds next year.
Who is eligible to apply?
- Units of local government
- Federally recognized Tribes
- Metropolitan planning organizations
Partnerships between any of the above and the owner of the infrastructure or facility at the heart of the grant (which can be a private party) are also eligible to apply.
Owners of infrastructure or facilities, which may include private sector actors, are eligible to apply.
For both planning and construction applications, USDOT is encouraging applicants to form partnerships. Here are some examples of what a partnership and project could look like:
- A state DOT, city government, and local community foundation propose construction to remove a section of aging interstate highway and redesign the space for a new boulevard.
- A federally recognized Tribal government, several community-based organizations, and a county DOT seek funds to address limited transportation options.
- A metropolitan planning organization, local government, and public transportation provider apply for funds to construct accessible pedestrian bridges or a major thoroughfare to enable access to transit stops and stations.
- A county DOT, a town, and several nonprofits apply for planning funds to reconfigure a state highway that bifurcates the town.
These are only examples, but they illustrate the depth and breadth of partnerships that will help make an application competitive.
What are my next steps?
Sign up to receive USDOT email updates so that you know when an application becomes available.
Start thinking about potential projects and partnerships. USDOT offers helpful tips on this page.
USDOT’s Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success (ROUTES) is targeted at smaller applicants but is a great resource for anyone. Check out ROUTES resources and a matrix of USDOT funding sources at this link.
Look Ahead: FY23 Brownfield Grant Applications Anticipated This Fall
In just a few months, EPA will gear up to accept applications for its next round of brownfield grants. Expect a call for applications in September, with proposals due after 60 days, and awards made in spring 2023. If your community could benefit from a brownfield grant, the time to start planning is now.
The $1.2-trillion infrastructure bill that passed in November 2021 provides $1.5 billion for brownfield grants and loans under EPA’s Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) Grants over the next five years ($300 million per year, fiscal year 2022–2027). This is in addition to and a significant increase over the funding Congress appropriates annually. The anticipated amount per award is yet to be announced, pending EPA policy decisions. For more details, see this flyer from EPA.
These increased grant resources present a generational opportunity to advance environmental cleanup, local economic development, housing, parks, and more.
What are my next steps?
Start thinking about your existing needs and which grants might offer a fit. Because there is so much more funding available, it is likely that this year’s grants will be larger. Demonstrating the capacity to manage a grant is always a key component of any application. With larger grants, capacity is going to be even more critical to making applications competitive. Therefore, it’s valuable to consider applying with partners. For example, if you’re a city or town, consider working with your county or regional development organization. Think about how you can benefit from these funds without necessarily serving as the lead applicant. Do you have questions about how to approach this, or about any other aspect of these grants? We’re happy to answer questions and connect people with resources. Get in touch with MFA Senior Planner Sarah Sieloff to learn more.
Funding Opportunities and Updates | May 31, 2022
EPA Announces Additional Brownfield Resources in Washington and Oregon
Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that Business Oregon and the Washington State Department of Commerce each received $3.9 million in additional funds to bolster their brownfield revolving loan fund programs. This is exciting, because brownfield revolving loans are available to private and public borrowers. To learn more, check out our Washington page.
In addition, EPA announced grant awards totaling over $8 million through its Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) Grants to 14 brownfield redevelopment projects in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Maul, Foster & Alongi, Inc., was honored to assist the City of Lincoln City with its successful community-wide assessment grant application. To learn more about the projects receiving grants, check out the project fact sheets. Congratulations to all the awardees!
Active People, Healthy Nation Champions Institute—Applications Due June 10, 2022
Smart Growth America is accepting applications for its third round of the Active People, Healthy Nation Champions Institute. This technical assistance and peer learning program is designed to help local elected officials become effective champions for downtown revitalization, transportation planning that supports safe access for all road users, and other local initiatives.
Participants will be selected in July 2022, and the program will launch in September. It will include six virtual two-hour learning sessions between September and December 2022, with up to one hour of reading between sessions. From January to June 2023, participants will each plan and begin to implement a local initiative based on what they’ve learned. This second phase will include two virtual 90-minute discussion sessions, as well as a brief final written report summarizing challenges, successes, and next steps.
Applications are due June 10, 2022. For more information, visit this site.
Funding Opportunities and Updates | April 28, 2022
USDOT Releases Anticipated Dates for Notices of Funding Opportunities (NOFO)
Applications for different kinds of transportation grants will open throughout 2022.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) recently updated its list of anticipated release dates for NOFOs, some of which come as early as May. Via the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, USDOT controls $200 billion in grant funds. Ben McMakin at Crossroads Strategies notes that “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds transportation projects at historically high levels through 2026, and with DOT’s anticipated NOFO release dates in hand, now is the time for communities to start planning their applications to bring this funding home. Every community has mobility and transportation challenges, so every community can find a use for this funding.” If your community is considering applying for USDOT grants, now is the time to begin planning. Get in touch with us to see how we can help.
NOFO Release Dates
|May||Transit-Oriented Development Pilot Program||Federal Transit Administration|
|May||Safe Streets and Roads for All Grant Program||Office of the Secretary of Transportation|
|May||Bridge Investment Program||Federal Highway Administration|
|June||Railroad Crossing Elimination Program||Federal Railroad Administration|
|June||Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program||Office of the Secretary of Transportation|
|July||All Stations Accessibility Program||Federal Transit Administration|
|July||Rail Vehicle Replacement Program||Federal Transit Administration|
|Summer||National Culvert Removal, Replacement, and Restoration Grant Program||Federal Highway Administration|
|August||Consolidated Rail Infrastructure & Safety Improvements Grant Program||Federal Railroad Administration|
|September||Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Grant Program||Office of the Secretary of Transportation|
Brownfield Redevelopment and Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF)
Treasury offers clarity around use of these funds to support brownfield redevelopment and neighborhood revitalization.
The U.S. Treasury’s final rule governing use of COVID recovery funds came into effect on April 1, 2022. The rule allows for use of SLFRF to support environmental remediation, greening, and conversion of brownfields to affordable housing. With some limits, demolition is also a permissible expense.
Port Infrastructure Development Program
The USDOT’s Maritime Administration is competitively awarding funding to support the safety, efficiency, or reliability of goods to, from, and within ports. Following passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, funding in FY2022 is almost double previous levels. Applications are due May 16, 2022.
The Port Infrastructure Development Program funds competitive grants at coastal seaports and inland river ports. Competitive applications should align with USDOT’s seven strategic goals, which were updated in 2021 and include equity, as well as climate and sustainability. This shift in DOT’s priorities is reflective of greater federal emphasis on social and economic equity, as well as climate change. Not sure how to link these to your project? Multiple tools are available. Contact us for additional information.
More information about Port Infrastructure Development Program grants is available at this link.
Funding Opportunities and Updates | August 20, 2021
EDA Announces $3 Billion in Grants Under the American Rescue Plan
Funds can support infrastructure, planning, workforce development, and more.
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) recently released $3 billion in grants under the American Rescue Plan. These funds can support infrastructure planning and development, workforce development, and regional economic collaboration and are divided into six programs aimed at assisting tribes, states, local governments, special purpose districts, universities, and nonprofits:
1. Statewide Planning, Research, and Networks ($90 million): Build networks that support stakeholders working on EDA’s investment priorities (applications due October 31, 2021)
2. Build Back Better Regional Challenge ($1 billion): Build regional economic clusters (potentially involving several industries) (Phase 1 due October 19, 2021, Phase 2 due March 15, 2022)
3. Travel, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation ($750 million): Accelerate recovery in communities that rely on tourism and related industries (due March 15, 2022)
4. Economic Adjustment Assistance ($500 million): Support infrastructure, public works, and planning projects (due March 15, 2022)
5. Indigenous Communities ($100 million): Facilitate recovery in indigenous communities (due March 15, 2022)
6. Good Jobs Challenge ($500 million): Strengthen workforce development systems and partnerships (due January 26, 2022)
Who’s eligible to apply? Public sector organizations, tribes, universities, quasi-public and nonprofit entities are eligible to apply for most of these grants.
What about match? Most grants do not require a match, although a match can make applications more competitive. EDA programs are usually flexible about in-kind matches. For more information, see the specific notices of funding opportunities.
Some of these deadlines are coming up quickly. Maul Foster & Alongi, Inc., has been gathering information about these programs and can help advise about their potential fit for your organization. If you would like to learn more about these programs or are interested in applying, please contact Sarah Sieloff, senior planner.
The Infrastructure Bill passed by the U.S. Senate on August 10 authorizes significant funding for a variety of sectors and project types, including:
- $110 billion for roads and bridges
- $11 billion for safety
- $39.2 billion for public transit
- $65 billion for broadband
- $17.3 billion for ports and waterways
- $25 billion for airports
- $55 billion for water infrastructure
- $73 billion for energy and grid
- $46 billion for resilience
- $66 billion for rail
The bill also authorizes significant funding for brownfield redevelopment, including $1.5 billion for brownfields over 5 years ($300 million annually) from 2022 to 2026. That total includes $1.2 billion for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Brownfield grants, and $300 million for grants to states (also known as CERCLA 128(a) grants).
If funded, this authorization could significantly increase the size of EPA Brownfield grants. The legislation specifies:
- Cleanup grants up to $5 million each (currently, these are capped at $500,000 per site)
- Multipurpose grants up to $10 million each (currently capped at $800,000 per grant)
- $10 million each for Community-Wide Assessment grants with no limitation on cost per individual site assessment (currently capped at $300,000 per grant)
- $10 million each for capitalizing Brownfields Revolving Loan Funds (currently capped at $1 million)
- $1 million each for Environmental Workforce grants
Details are available on pages 2,594–2,597 of the bill’s text.
What’s next for the Infrastructure Bill? The bill now heads to the House, and both chambers will begin working toward budget reconciliation, a process that could take months. The process of getting dollars to federal agencies, and eventually to local governments, will also take time. While the Infrastructure Bill authorizes substantial investments, actual funding must come via a separate appropriations bill.
Funding Opportunities and Updates | May 12, 2021
“Build Back Better”: the Biden Administration’s Agenda to Rescue, Recover, and Rebuild the Country
When the American Rescue Plan (ARP) was signed into law on March 11, 2021, it represented the third COVID-19-related federal law (following on the heels of the CARES Act of March 2020 and the Coronavirus Relief and Supplemental Appropriations Act of December 2020), adding $1.9 trillion in relief to individuals, businesses, and government entities. It was also the first step in President Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan, intended to provide relief and economic support, implement steps to contain the COVID-19 virus, and start the country on a path toward economic recovery. In addition to providing $195 billion to state governments, the ARP included $130 billion for local governments, an additional $10 billion for state and local government capital projects, and an additional $3 billion for the Federal Economic Development Administration (FEDA). FEDA’s role is to provide grants to economically distressed communities to generate new jobs and stimulate industrial and commercial growth and development. As a result of the passage of the ARP, many local governments now have the chance to begin building back their economies after devastating losses caused by the pandemic.
The next step in the Build Back Better plan is the American Jobs Plan, introduced by President Biden on March 31. This plan is intended to make significant investment in America by creating jobs, rebuilding infrastructure, and positioning the country to become more competitive in the global marketplace. One focus area of the plan is investment in infrastructure, from highways, bridges, ports, and airports to water, electric, and high-speed broadband. For counties, cities, ports, and other local governments, this plan could make available significant additional funding to help update, improve, and develop infrastructure systems necessary to sustain and improve our communities. As the political negotiations swirl around the fate of this proposed law over the course of the next several months, local entities can use this time to evaluate their capital improvement programs, identifying and positioning their infrastructure projects to take advantage of this funding, should it become available.
A third significant component of the Build Back Better plan is the American Families Plan. This plan is geared toward investment in education, health care, and childcare, with the aim of improving inclusivity, quality of life, and economic possibilities for middle-class families across the U.S. The three main initiatives of the American Families Plan are to increase access to and make education more affordable; provide economic security for families through expanded childcare benefits; and expand tax provisions that benefit workers and families, such as the Child and Dependent Care and Earned Income Tax Credit.
Information on all three aspects of the administration’s Build Back Better plan is available at www.whitehouse.gov/american-jobs-plan.
MFA offers free economic stimulus webinar May 27
Learn how to position your agency and community to receive stimulus funding: attend a quick, informative webinar presented by Maul Foster & Alongi, Inc., in partnership with Crossroads Strategies, LLC. Our multidisciplinary team will show you how to navigate the competitive grant funding and financing processes to help push your infrastructure improvement plans forward.
This virtual webinar will be hosted via Zoom on Thursday, May 27, from noon to 1 p.m. Join us to learn about:
- Positioning your agency and community to receive funding through federal stimulus programs
- What it means to get your project “shovel ready”
- How federal funds may be funneled through existing state funding programs
- Possible funding availability and timing
- Eligibility for specific grant programs
- Capital projects likely to have economic and job growth outcomes
- Capital project readiness and prioritization for competitive funding
The webinar is free to all attendees. You must register at https://www.maulfoster.com/the-2021-economic-stimulus-webinar to attend.
USDA seeks grant applications to expand distance learning and telemedicine access for rural areas
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development is accepting applications for grants to improve access to distance learning and telemedicine in rural areas. Applications must be submitted electronically through grants.gov no later than June 4, 2021.
Up to $44.5 million is available nationwide this year through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program. The grants can be used to finance telecommunications equipment, computer networks, and advanced technologies to support virtual job training, academic instruction, or access to specialized medical care in rural areas.
Most state and local government entities, federally recognized tribes, nonprofits, for-profit businesses, or consortia of these are eligible to apply. Find more information on this grant and the application process.
Funding Opportunities and Updates | October 20, 2020
Crossroads Strategies 2021 Policy Outlook
As the 2020 campaign season enters its waning days, Crossroads Strategies has provided this broad overview of policy issues in the next Congress and how the outcomes of the upcoming elections might impact their consideration. CRS will provide additional in-depth analysis of more specific policy issues in the weeks following November 3rd. Read the report.
Funding Opportunities and Updates | September 10, 2020
Vote on “Skinny” COVID-19 Relief Bill Blocked
Senate Republicans’ targeted COVID-19 relief package that was introduced last Monday failed on a mostly party line vote on Thursday. The legislation included liability protections for businesses and schools; $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits through December 27, 2020; an additional round of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program; funding for schools across the country; and $10 billion for the United States Postal Service.
The vote was mostly along party lines. Democrats said the measure shortchanged many pressing needs and objected to reductions previously approved by Republicans. It is anyone’s guess as to whether the two parties will return to the negotiating table before the election. Meanwhile, the $300 jobless benefit from the Trump administration is running out with unemployment increasing because of health issues and an economy that is still struggling.
2021 Federal Stimulus Likely to Focus on “Shovel Ready” Infrastructure Projects
Maul Foster & Alongi’s Washington, D.C.-based partner, Crossroads Strategies, tells us that not much is likely to happen in Congress this fall, but we should all be prepared for federal stimulus programs and grants in early 2021. These programs and grants could look markedly different depending on the outcomes of federal elections, so we are encouraged to remain flexible as we plan for a new round of funding next year.
Projects that will be successfully funded will likely be those that are “shovel ready,” meaning projects that have advanced into their design and permitting processes and are poised for construction. Therefore, it may be prudent for public entities to move their critical projects to this phase as quickly as possible.
Future grants will likely focus on traditional infrastructure investment such as roads, marine facilities, and utilities. Depending on outcomes of the 2020 elections, there may also be a strong emphasis on environmental protection and projects that address the impacts of climate change.
We recommend monitoring the potential reinstatement of federal environmental regulations, either via Congress or executive action.
The federal programs and grants we are monitoring include:
- The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
- National Defense Authorization Act
- Great American Outdoors Act
- America’s Water Infrastructure Act 2020 (AWIA 2020), formerly known as the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA)
- Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grants
- Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grants, formerly known as Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants
- Assistance from the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration (MARAD)
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grants
Funding Opportunities and Updates | July 14, 2020
Congress to Begin Negotiations on Next COVID Relief Package
Senate Republicans are expected to propose a new COVID-19 relief package soon. Early indications are that this bill will contain between $1 and $2 trillion in new funding—at least $1 trillion less than the House’s proposed package, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act.
Senate Republicans are expected to include the following in their proposed COVID-19 relief package:
- Additional individual assistance: Senate Republicans have indicated a second round of direct payments to individuals is under consideration. The Senate bill may be similar to the HEROES Act language, with direct payment of $1,200 per person and up to $5,000 per family.
- Extended unemployment benefits: Senate Republicans may propose extended federal unemployment benefits through January 2021, though potentially at a level below the current $600 per week in additional benefits adopted in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Senate Republicans are also discussing a “Return to Work” bonus to encourage individuals to resume available jobs.
- Assistance to states and local governments: With many states in fiscal duress, Senate Republicans are expected to propose additional assistance to states and local governments below the House-proposed level of nearly $1 trillion for states, local, tribal, and territorial governments.
- Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): Technical changes, eligibility expansions, and additional funding are under consideration. One proposal apparently gaining traction is a bipartisan effort to aid the restaurant industry through the PPP.
- Healthcare: Senate COVID-19 legislation will provide additional funding to support testing for the virus and provide funds for hospitals.
- Education: Senate Republicans will emphasize opening schools in the fall, with additional funding to aid local schools.
- Defense: Senate Republicans are likely to provide significant funding for Section 3610 of the CARES Act to address problems with numerous Department of Defense (DoD) contracts and with the industrial base related to COVID. It is speculated that the DoD has identified a need for approximately $40 billion to address COVID-related program challenges.
Despite the anticipated struggle to reach agreement on the next COVID relief package in July and early August, members of Congress in both bodies seem to desire agreement and outcomes that are beneficial for the nation. Many members are looking for a bipartisan outcome like the CARES Act, which was widely viewed as Congress at its best, coming together for the country. That same spirit should result in a bipartisan COVID relief bill that President Trump will sign as Congress breaks for August, the political conventions, and approaching national election.
Paycheck Protection Program Extended to Aug. 8
On July 4, President Trump signed legislation that extends the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) until August 8, 2020. The legislation passed by unanimous consent in both the House and the Senate. The program, which is administered through the U.S. Small Business Administration, has over $100 billion available for use.
Funding Opportunities and Updates | June 2, 2020
McConnell: Additional Federal Relief Package Likely | Ports and Federal Recovery Legislation | HUD Indian Community Development Block Grant Funds Available | USDA Business and Industry CARES Act Program | USDA Funds Available for Strategic Economic and Community Development | National League of Cities Kicks Off Federal Funding Advocacy Campaign
On May 26, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Congress will likely have to pass an additional coronavirus relief package in the coming weeks, though he did not commit to a hard timeline.
Leader McConnell said the potential relief package will have a narrower scope than the recently passed House package, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. The HEROES Act approves about $3 trillion in new federal spending, including a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks; $200 billion in hazard pay for essential workers; six additional months of COVID-19 unemployment; funding for state, local, and tribal governments, and food and housing assistance.
The Majority Leader stated he believes an additional relief package will include liability protections for doctors and businesses across the country, additional funding for state and local governments that have seen expenses increase and revenues decline as a result of COVID-19, and an extension of unemployment insurance that is funded for as long as needed.
The status of ports under this funding plan and under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in general is unclear. Port supporters have lobbied to have ports, as local governments, explicitly named as eligible funding recipients. However, the references to population in the CARES Act suggest that the bill’s authors view “municipalities” as cities and towns. Ports could be eligible to receive funding through states, counties, and cities. This will be an important point of clarification as legislation and regulations are developed.
The CARES Act provides for up to $100 million in Indian Community Development Block Grant Imminent Threat funding to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus pandemic for emergencies that constitute imminent threats to health and safety. These funds will be administered through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and provided as grants to eligible Indian tribes.
There is no application deadline. Click here for more information on these funds and the grant application process.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making available up to $1 billion in loan guarantees to help rural businesses meet their working capital needs during the pandemic. Entities that may be eligible for these guarantees include for-profit businesses, nonprofits, cooperatives, federally recognized tribes, and public bodies.
The deadline for applications is Sept. 15, 2021, or until funds are expended. Learn more and apply at www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/business-and-industry-cares-act-program.
Attend an upcoming Business and Industry CARES Act program webinar:
Register Now| Wednesday, June 3, 2 p.m. Eastern Time
USDA Rural Development is accepting applications for projects that support regional economic and community development planning. Funding is authorized through a Farm Bill provision for applications submitted through Community Facilities Loans, Grants, and Loan Guarantees; Water and Waste Disposal Program Loans, Grants, and Loan Guarantees; and Business & Industry Program Loan Guarantees.
Funds must be obligated by June 30, 2020.
For more information on requirements and application deadlines, visit www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/strategic-economic-and-community-development. Information is available in English and Spanish.
The National League of Cities (NLC) is advocating for at least $500 million in federal funding to help cities, towns, and villages get direct federal dollars that will facilitate our country’s reopening and help restart the local and national economies.
Find more information on NLC’s advocacy, take action, and discover municipal tools and resources at https://covid19.nlc.org/cities-are-essential/.
Funding Opportunities and Updates | May 14, 2020
On May 7, U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced the creation of the CARES Act economic development assistance program.
The program will be administered through the Economic Development Administration (EDA) at Commerce, which received $1.5 billion in economic assistance grant funding under the CARES Act. Grants will be made through the EDA’s Economic Adjustment Assistance program, which will assess the needs of local and regional stakeholders.
The grants are expected to support a range of construction and nonconstruction projects in communities across the country.
Visit the EDA’s CARES Act Recovery Assistance page for more information and application requirements.
On April 21, U.S. Senators John Barrasso (R-WY) and Tom Carper (D-DE) released drafts of two pieces of water infrastructure legislation. The bills include draft water resources development legislation, titled America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020, and draft drinking water legislation, titled the Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020. Both draft bills build on the bipartisan success of America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, which passed Congress and was signed into law by President Trump.
The bills were scheduled for the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works in late April. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) serves as a minority member on the committee.
Relevant bill sections include:
- Section 1058. Report on barriers to infrastructure development at United States ports. This section requires the Secretary, within 180 days of enactment of this Act and in consultation with all relevant federal agencies, to submit a report on the barriers to infrastructure and capital improvement projects faced by ports and port authorities. The report must also examine the impact those barriers have on the strategic competitiveness of ports of the United States and provide recommendations to reduce those barriers.
- Section 3002. Grants to ports to reduce emissions from waterborne vessels. This section authorizes the USEPA to spend $20 million for each fiscal year 2021 and 2022 for grants to reduce emissions coming from waterborne vessels docked at U.S. ports.
On May 7, the Department of Commerce announced the allocation of $300 million for assistance to fishery participants for individual states, tribes, and territories. The Pacific Northwest Congressional delegation advocated strenuously for funding, and the West Coast secured more than one-third of available funding.
- Alaska: $50 million
- California: $18.35 million
- Oregon: $15.98 million
- Washington: $50 million
- Federally recognized tribes on the West Coast: $5.09 million
- Federally recognized tribes in Alaska: $1 million
Unfortunately, the State of Idaho did not meet the threshold for assistance.
These allocations will be used to address direct or indirect fishery-related losses as well as subsistence, cultural, or ceremonial impacts related to COVID-19.
California has become the first state to borrow money from the federal government as it struggles to continue paying out unemployment benefits. The state borrowed $348 million from the Treasury Department last week and received approval to borrow up to a total of $10 billion through the end of July. The money is to be used solely for unemployment benefits.
Other states have received approval for loans but have not yet borrowed. Illinois has been approved for $12.6 billion and Connecticut for $1.1 billion. Both states will use the money for their unemployment insurance funds.
If unemployment claims continue to rise, additional states are expected to follow suit. At least 20 states and jurisdictions do not currently have enough money in their unemployment coffers to pay benefits through a one-year recession.