(BINGHAMTON, N.Y.) — Mayor Richard C. David on Thursday announced the creation of the Office of Economic Recovery and Development to assist residents and businesses impacted by COVID-19.
The Office of Economic Recovery and Development will replace the City’s Office of Economic Development for the duration of Mayor David’s term or until the City is exiting the recovery period.
The Office’s primary focus is assisting City residents and small businesses with immediate financial needs and supporting short- and long-term job creation and economic recovery efforts.
A combined $2 million in federal funds have been allocated to help City residents, small businesses and non-profit organizations directly impacted by COVID-19 or assisting in response or recovery efforts.
On March 27, President Trump signed into law the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. As part of the CARES Act, the City of Binghamton was awarded $1,140,260 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding and $577,638 in Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) funding. The Binghamton Local Development Corporation (BLDC) also recently created a $350,000 fund for 12-month, zero-interest loans to small businesses with fewer than 50 employees, which is now available for use.
Cities will be able to start spending allocated funds in May, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
“The most pressing needs of many families impacted by COVID-19 are paying their rent and utilities,” said Mayor David. “We want to identify as many eligible residents, businesses and nonprofits as possible in advance so we can get these essential funds to those most in need as soon as the City receives authorization from HUD.”
Mayor David has hired Paul Nelson as a temporary consultant to lead this transition. From 2000 to 2018, Nelson was Planning Director for the Town of Union, administering federal grant programs in CDBG, disaster recovery and housing. He was the City of Binghamton’s Director of Planning, Housing and Community Development from 1994 to 2000.
“Paul’s decades of experience in planning and community development for the two largest municipalities in Broome County, and his extensive background working with HUD on administering federal funds, make him the ideal candidate for this position,” said Mayor David. “City residents and businesses will be best served by someone whose sole focus is providing financial relief to those impacted as quickly as possible.”
The Office of Economic Recovery and Development will immediately begin working with stakeholders to identify existing non-profit programs to fund, create new programs to fill gaps in services, and identify residents and businesses who are eligible to receive CDBG and ESG funds once HUD authorizes their distribution. Staff will also assist small businesses in accessing a diverse range of Small Business Administration (SBA) programs created as part of the CARES Act.
HUD has put in place strict COVID-19 guidelines outlining eligible activities and how the funds must be spent. To comment on the usage of the CARES funds, residents may email email@example.com. The City will also set up a virtual public hearing to solicit community input, and the Community Development Advisory Committee (CDAC) will provide recommendations on how the federal funds should be spent.
To contact the Office of Economic Recovery and Development for assistance, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Applicants can also call (607) 772-7161 and leave a message, as Economic Recovery and Development staff are working remotely.
“COVID-19 has changed the economic trajectory of the City for the foreseeable future,” said Mayor David. “It will take not months, but a year or more to regain the economic momentum that’s been lost. As Mayor, it’s my job to lead the City through our most significant health crisis in history, but also focus on Binghamton’s short- and long-term economic health and make sure businesses survive, new jobs are created and projects advance. We have to increase tax revenue and put people back to work. This new office provides a staff and millions of federal dollars to accomplish our recovery goals.”
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