The American Recovery Plan Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are recent Congressional Acts that distributed a number of grants and program funding to local and state governments throughout the United States. The American Recovery Plan’s funding has predominantly been focused on allowing local municipalities to recover the loss of funds suffered due to COVID-19. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s fund allocation is focused on improving the infrastructure throughout the United States by funding maintenance programs, electrification projects, public transportation and pedestrian safety items. Centralina Regional Council has assisted several of our member governments in securing these funds and helping with follow-up reporting. Our collaborative work has allowed us to observe and analyze patterns in our region and opportunities to address gaps and discrepancies going forward.
The American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA), a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill signed into law on March 11, 2021, has proven to have a tremendous impact on communities within our region. In total, our region received over $2.7 billion dollars in Federal aid funding, allowing counties and municipalities to use supplanted funding to invest in their communities, improve their constituent’s public health and address the negative economic impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Analysis of the widespread distribution of these funds has shown that counties and municipalities with larger populations trended higher for overall payments. Smaller municipalities took advantage of the Standard Allowances for Revenue Loss option, allowing them to claim up to $10 million to supplant their funds from the general budget to spend on a dedicated set of items. One third of our region’s funding was claimed through this option (approximately $994 million), which requires less federal reporting requirements.
Recent observations have shown that some regional municipalities have yet to fully opt into their entire ARPA funding allocation, meanwhile rural municipalities with populations of 500 or less were significantly more likely to not access ARPA funds. We recognize that this disparity should be addressed and we’re actively working to ensure member governments of all sizes receive adequate funding for their unique community needs. We encourage members to reach out to their dedicated member liaison for any questions, concerns or extra assistance with ARPA-related projects and initiatives.
Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
Using the General Services Administration’s dataset, we were able to examine our region’s performance in securing funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which authorizes up to $550 billion in new spending to allocate towards public transportation, broadband and public works projects. When comparing surrounding communities, our member governments secured a substantial amount of discretionary grants, totaling to over $338.7 billion. This figure accounts for over half of the total funding distributed to North Carolina, which demonstrates an increased commitment to roadway maintenance, improving our aviation infrastructure and allocating resources for public transportation, active mobility, and pedestrian safety improvements. Kings Mountain, for example, is using their funds to make substantial investments in the Lithium Materials Processing Plant. The City of Concord’s secured funds are going toward investment of their limited-pollution electric vehicle bus system, helping move the needle forward on our regional transportation goals associated with the CONNECT Beyond regional mobility plan.
We expect the next round of significant federal funding to come from the Inflation Reduction Act, which is set to invest $370 billion in lowering energy costs for families and small businesses, accelerating private investment in clean energy solutions, strengthening supply chains and creating good-paying jobs and new economic opportunities across the United States. Program updates, deadlines and details can be found at CleanEnergy.gov. We will continue to advocate for our region’s interest and assist to secure funding so that local governments can take action on impactful projects within their communities. Members can also find information on applicable grants through our member portal, where alerts are updated weekly. Please reach out to your member liaison if you need assistance gaining access.