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Omnibus Includes Funding, Disaster Relief and ARPA Rules


January 13, 2023 | Omnibus Includes Funding, Disaster Relief and ARPA Rules | By: Kelly Humrichouser, Director of Government Relations | 


Over the holidays, Capitol Hill was still at work, closing the books on the FY23 omnibus budget bill, which was signed by President Biden on December 29. The omnibus packages together individual appropriations bills covering federal government programs, showing us what will be funded in the coming year. Beyond regular programs of interest to Main Street, the bill also includes several important updates for Main Street leaders to be aware of for making the most of federal funding opportunities in the next year.  

A few things to keep in mind as you approach federal funding:

• Collaboration: Main Street leaders might find that federal funding is difficult to navigate, but partnership with Coordinating Programs, regional economic development entities, and municipal leaders can help bring the needed capacity to help. 

• Relationship Building: Reach out to your federal delegation to build communication and trust with lawmakers. Congressional offices can help you navigate opportunities and work for common goals. Similarly, agency staff can be partners to understand application needs. 
• Strategy: Your Transformation Strategy or other district-wide planning documents can help you stay focused on opportunities that align with your program’s long-term goals.  

Key areas of interest for Main Streets  

Main Street programs at the state, county, or municipal level may benefit from competitive or formula grant programs included in the omnibus bill. Below are listed programs of interest to Main Street leaders included in the bill, with specific programs currently open for application noted.

Historic Preservation FundIn addition to the competitive grant programs below, the omnibus included increased funding for State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs) and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (THPOs), essential partners to Main Street redevelopment projects.

African American Civil Rights Grant - $24M
History of Equal Rights - $5M
Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization Grant - $12.5M 

Opportunity: Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization Grant program funding was increased significantly and is currently accepting applications. Find application information here and learn how Rethos is helping Minnesota Main Streets through this funding.  

Department of Transportation 
Thriving Communities Program - $25M - Main Street America submitted comments on the development of this program and encouraged members throughout the network to apply for this exciting new program in 2022.  
Opportunity: The 2023 RAISE Grant program (funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law) is now open for application. These grants competitive grants can support downtown revitalization, walkability, streetscape design and other Main Street objectives. 

USDA Rural Development – USDA RD programs can support small business development, placemaking and capacity building primarily for Main Street districts in rural areas. Eligibility may vary based on individual grant programs.  

 Rural Community Development Initiative - $6M
Rural Innovation for a Stronger Economy (RISE) Grants- $2M
Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program - $6M (in grants) – now open for applications
Rural Business Development Grants - $37M 

FY23 Rural Business Development Grants are open for application. These grants have helped Main Street America and Coordinating Programs create thriving small business ecosystems in Main Street districts.  

Minority Business Development Administration – The Minority Business Development Administration (MBDA) has seen significant growth in recent years. MBDA received $70M in the Omnibus for continued growth of programs supporting minority entrepreneurs. 

Opportunity: Applications are open for MBDA’s $93M Capital Readiness Program, offering grants of $3M to entities supporting minority businesses in building capacity and networks to access capital. 

Economic Development Administration (EDA) - EDA's programs emphasize regional collaboration to create good paying jobs. In addition to $363.5 million to fund EDA’s ongoing programs, the bill appropriated funding to newer programs focused on reinventing regional economic competitiveness.

Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs - $500M
Recompete Pilot Program - $200M  

Housing and Urban Development

Community Development Block Grant - $3.3B. This program is an essential resource for Main Street programs and projects in both large cities and rural areas.  

The Omnibus also included portions of a bill known as the YIMBY - Yes in My Backyard - Act. HUD was awarded $85M for this new grant program which seeks to help communities update zoning codes to reduce barriers to housing production and preservation. 

What else was included in the Omnibus?  

Two years ago, Congressionally Directed Spending, also known as Community
Project Funding, (and colloquially known as earmarks) returned to use in both the House and Senate. Main Street programs and related projects are finding success advocating for funding through this system, from streetscape redesign to entrepreneurial support. If you are interested in seeking funding through this process, take steps to build relationships now with your House and Senate offices to educate them on your projects and follow your Members of Congress' emails and social media to be alerted when the submission process begins in the spring. Note: while requests are handled differently by different offices, this FY24 non-profit earmark guide from U.S. Senator Ben Cardin's office is a great overview.  

In response to the call for funding for communities impacted by natural disasters over the past year, the bill included a Disaster Supplemental, allocating funding to several key agencies to support recovery and resiliency efforts. Funded programs include CDBG, EDA, and USDA Community Facilities and Rural Housing programs.  

Congress has also created a new regional entity to support economic development in the midwest: the Great Lakes Authority. With a structure like other regional commissions such as the Appalachian Regional Commission and Delta Regional Authority, the Great Lakes Authority will support Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.  

Finally, the Omnibus bill included provisions changing some American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund rules, opening the possibility of using these funds for infrastructure projects. Broadly, communities can use up to $10M or 30% of their ARPA allocation on uses allowable under CDBG.