Watch: New Wave of Federal Recovery Funds Can Rebuild Main Street

Date: 13 Sep 2021 | posted in: Retail | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

ILSR Senior Researcher Kennedy Smith moderated a Route Fifty panel discussion, Rebuilding Main Street: The American Rescue Plan in Action, about how cities can leverage federal recovery funds to revitalize their commercial districts, create more small businesses, and reduce racial and economic inequality.

A national expert on local economic development, Kennedy told the 200+ audience members, “The new wave of federal investments coming from the American Rescue Plan offers an unprecedented opportunity to reinvigorate the spirit of entrepreneurship within communities and help rebuild Main Street.”

Kennedy explained that ARPA has several funding streams that target the growth of small businesses. These include the $350 billion in general recovery funds which are being divided among states, cities, territories, and tribal governments; specialized funds, such as a restaurant revitalization fund and money for shuttered venues, and grants to federal agencies — including the National Endowment for the Arts and the Economic Development Administration — that can be used for helping small business development and growth.

Joining Kennedy on the panel were Lourdes German, Founder and Director of the Civic Innovation Project, and Erika Strasburger, a member of Pittsburgh’s city council and co-chair of the nation’s first citywide employee ownership task force, in partnership with Pennsylvania Center for Employee Ownership.

The panelists covered different ways cities are using federal funds to help people start and grow local businesses, including:

  • Pittsburgh has used $3.5 million of its American Rescue Plan Act money to forgive loans made by the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority earlier in the pandemic.
  • Durham, North Carolina is incorporating equity into all its recovery programs and leveraging ARPA dollars with other public and private sector dollars to maximize the impact of its programs.
  • Several cities are using federal funds to direct procurement towards their small businesses.


You can register for free to watch the panel.

Upcoming resource: Stay tuned for Kennedy’s forthcoming report on how cities can use the ARPA funds to reorient how they approach local economic development.

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Follow Susan Holmberg:
Susan Holmberg

Susan Holmberg is Senior Editor and Researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s Independent Business Initiative. She writes on corporate power and inequality and has been published in the New York Times, Time, The Atlantic, The Nation, and Democracy Journal.

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Follow Kennedy Smith:
Kennedy Smith

Kennedy Smith is a Senior Researcher for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance's Independent Business Initiative. Her work focuses on analyzing the factors threatening independent businesses and developing policy and programmatic tools that communities can use to address these issues and build thriving, equitable local economies.