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Albany County launches ARPA funding application process

 Albany County Executive Dan McCoy holds an ARPA application handout in the Cahill Room at the Albany County Office Building, May 24, 2023.
Dave Lucas
Albany County Executive Dan McCoy holds an ARPA application handout in the Cahill Room at the Albany County Office Building, May 24, 2023.

Albany County is now accepting applications for American Rescue Plan Act funds.

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy, a Democrat, says $5.25 million in economic recovery awards are on the table, a "first round" of grants.

"It's one of the largest single investments that we're making. And we still got more to go," McCoy said.

McCoy says $1 million will go to small business grants through a partnership with the Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region, another $1.5 million for workforce development grants that will support programs providing unemployed and underemployed county residents with the skills needed to succeed in today’s economy. Additionally, $1 million is available to encourage businesses to train new and existing employees through a collaboration with the Capital Region Workforce Development Board.

Democratic Deputy County Executive Dan Lynch notes that funding is also available for the redevelopment of vacant, abandoned or blighted commercial and industrial properties, as well as for the recovery and promotion of the arts, culture and tourism sector in the county.

"The county was the recipient of over $58 million divided into two years, the first year being used exclusively for recovery of loss, revenue in wages, and sales, tax receipts and all that good stuff," Lynch said. "But this is the piece that everyone was waiting for. And we could have rushed it out the door. And we could have done it haphazardly. And we did not do that. “

Albany County Legislator Carolyn McLaughlin, also a Democrat, says after a year and a half of waiting, she's glad to see ARPA funding being made available to the community.

"I believe it was important that the process took the time that it took to get us to this point, because some counties and cities did not get it right," said McLaughlin. "So I believe that as the applications unfold, people will have the information that they need to make sure that they're applying for their right part of money. And that they will have the information they need to make sure that they have a full and complete application, and that they present their projects and their goals in the best light. I'm excited to see, you know how we finally disperse the money. Now, is everybody gonna get everything they want? You ask for $20,000? And you're gonna get it? I don't know, if you ask for $500,000. Are you gonna get it? I don't think so. Those are big dollars, because we don't have that volume of money. But I do believe that it's an opportunity for people to move on some of the things that they've been thinking about for the past three years, or to make up for some of the things that they lost during the pandemic."

Grant applications are being accepted through the end of June at albanycountyarpa.org.

McCoy says first round grant awardees will be announced later in the summer.

“And the second round it’s going to focus on nonprofits, public health community health projects that will be coming later in the summer," said McCoy. "So, the total applicant or money that we're launching is roughly $15 million that we're putting out there in the community, combined with another $12 million that we’ll be investing in county projects that will improve the delivery services. And the quality of life for our residents. Water, sewer, which no one wants to talk about, right? The unsexy things, you know, things you're not going to see. The infrastructure around the county that needs to be taken care of broadband, you know, things like that, and parks.”

McCoy says second round applications will also include grants supporting behavioral health, substance abuse and telehealth; affordable housing and housing support as well as youth and senior services.

ARPA funds must be obligated no later than December 31, 2024, and fully expended by December 31, 2026. Funds that are not fully spent by December 31, 2026 are required to be returned to the United States Treasury.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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