Billions Are Heading to States and Cities; Make Sure Downtown Gets its Share

The federal government is directing hundreds of billions of dollars to states and cities, a windfall that has downtown leaders nationwide positioning themselves to get much needed funds.

In March, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan (ARP) into law. The initiative calls for $1.9 trillion in economic stimulus, including an infusion of $350 billion for state and local governments.

“It’s an unprecedented opportunity,” says Patrice Frey, president and chief executive officer of the National Main Street Center. “We’re probably not going to see dollars like this flow to states again any time soon, perhaps not any time in our lifetimes.”

Part of the challenge for downtown organizations is learning the ins and outs of ARP funding. While the precise rules remain uncertain, it seems that the ARP funds can be directed to struggling business owners, to landlords who lost money through rent forgiveness, and to infrastructure investments focused on water, sewer, and broadband.

To make sure your downtown gets a cut of ARP funding, the National Main Street Center suggests that downtown organizations try to get a seat at the table. Because money is likely to flow from cities and states to downtowns, leverage connections on your board to reach out to city leaders. Ask to be involved in the recovery planning conversations on an ongoing basis.

More on the American Rescue Plan, outdoor alcohol consumption, and sales tax increases appears in the July issue of Downtown Idea Exchange. Click to learn more about Downtown Idea Exchange and other resources for revitalizing downtowns and commercial corridors.

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