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:
• 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.
• 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.
Key areas of interest for Main Streets
• 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.
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.
Opportunity: 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.
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.