Springfield Plans Additional Community Workshops to Facilitate COVID Grant Applications
SPRINGFIELD – Thomas D. Moore, who leads the city’s COVID-19 grant application process, informed city council last week that it was planning additional workshops for local businesses and organizations to help them access to funds as requested by Councilors and Mayor Domenic J Sarno.
The city hosted a free workshop / seminar in December at Rebecca Johnson School on Catharine Street, and the next session is scheduled for January 12, 6-8 p.m., at Brightwood-Lincoln Elementary School, 255, Plainfield Street.
Several advisers recently expressed concern that there should be more free workshops to improve access to millions of dollars in federal COVID recovery funds under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Some advisers have also complained that they did not receive full updates on the application process in recent meetings.
Moore, who serves as the city’s director of recovery and business continuity in connection with COVID-19, said in a letter to the council that their concerns would be addressed.
“Our first priority is the audience, and at this point we will continue to enter the community to provide first-hand information and assistance through our Request for Proposals Community Seminar Events (ARPA),” said Moore.
Moore said the city’s ARPA team is working hard to provide information, guidance and support to Springfield residents, business owners and nonprofits, but is expanding those efforts.
The city initially received $ 123.8 million in federal aid under the ARPA program and has begun soliciting grant applications for a portion of the funds. The categories foreseen include job creation / economic development; Capital city; projects; helping businesses, non-profit organizations, seniors and neighborhoods; and housing.
Moore said that in addition to the two planned workshops, “we are finalizing additional sessions with the NAACP, Indian Orchard, East Springfield and other civic associations over the next few months.”
In addition, his office will have representatives at future COVID city council meetings scheduled twice a month, Moore said, after not personally attending the last two scheduled meetings.
“Our offices have a responsibility to advise and inform city council on the ARPA tendering process, as we know that all councilors are important partners in sharing this information with the public and their constituents.” Moore said.
He promised his office would be “as responsive as possible to requests for information.”
The advisers said the application process is complex and should be fair to everyone.
Council finance committee chair Tracye Whitfield praised Moore’s response.
“I am very happy that there has been a change of heart from the Mayor’s administration when it comes to ARPA funds and direct communication with council,” Whitfield said. “I have no doubts that we all want to do what is best for the residents of our community and I am happy to work with Attorney Moore and anyone in the administration to accomplish this important work.”
Community outreach plans are being developed by the Business Continuity and Resumption Department and the Technical Support and Compliance Department, Moore said.
“We look forward to continuing this important work during a transformative period in the city’s history,” said Moore.