ATLANTA, GA. – As state and local governments begin receiving American Rescue Plan relief funding, the Southern Economic Advancement Project (SEAP) has established an ARP Assistance Team. The team will ensure Southern communities have substantial assistance and resources to help them invest ARP funds responsibly and effectively.
Tyler Bellstrom and Morgan Smith will join the team as a part of SEAP’s SouthStrong project. SouthStrong is an initiative birthed from the pandemic to connect Southern groups and experts pursuing an equitable and people-first approach to economic recovery in the post-pandemic South.
“With an unprecedented amount of money flowing into the local government from the ARP, cities should make sure their money is going to foster an equitable recovery, not perpetuate and cause wider gaps for populations hit hardest by the pandemic,” Bellstrom said. “Advocates and organizations should help ensure the community has input before the money is spent. The ARP is a tremendous opportunity to stop and think what we want our cities to be.”
ARP will allocate $350 billion to state and local governments over the next year, with $130 billion going directly to communities. Since the pandemic has disproportionately impacted the South, the funding will provide a significant opportunity for many underserved Southern communities to rewrite their current blueprint. Every local government in the U.S. now holds the responsibility to make strategic choices about how to spend these funds to create a meaningful impact for residents and businesses.
“Local leaders should be excited about the arrival of ARP funds and the chance to engage with residents about the priorities and goals that can move forward. It’s not often communities get new resources with this much flexibility,” Smith said. “Public participation will be key to building recovery initiatives that have wide support and real impact. I’m looking forward to helping cities be smart in their choices and clear in their process.”
Local advocates should be aware of the immediate opportunity to influence local government spending decisions. Advocates should also be ready to help their communities carry out the U.S. Treasury’s guidance that ARP funds should be spent for strategic purposes, improve equity outcomes and reflect community voice.
The SEAP has drafted a model resolution for any county or city interested in signing on to best practices for ARP funds. Organizations or persons interested in sharing this resolution with their local government can contact Bellstrom or Smith directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Southern Economic Advancement Project
The Southern Economic Advancement Project (SEAP) is your partner and resource. SEAP amplifies existing organizations and networks’ efforts to broaden economic power and build a more equitable future. Broadening economic power brings attention to how race, class, and gender intersect social and economic policy in the South. SEAP explores policy ideas designed to address these connections directly. SEAP focuses on 12 Southern states and marginalized/vulnerable populations within the region.