The American Rescue Plan (ARP) is a $1.9 trillion initiative signed into law by President Biden in March 2021, aimed at combating the COVID-19 pandemic and helping economies recover from its economic impact. This is separate from the previous Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding which provided $2.2 trillion of economic relief and stimulus for businesses, individuals, federal agencies, and state and local governments, including a $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund for state and local governments, to help offset necessary expenditures incurred due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Nassau County received $15.4 million in CARES Funding from the Florida Department of Emergency Management which was utilized in a variety of ways to benefit the local economy to ensure our small businesses could weather the disruption, that our impacted workforce could maintain residency, and in preparation for the reopening of our service and tourism industry.
Below are a few highlights of how those funds were used:
- 100% forgivable small business grants dedicated specifically to local small businesses impacted by the pandemic.
- Innovative approaches to food stabilization programs that used federal dollars to support local non-profits who, in return, purchased food directly from locally owned restaurants. This allowed restaurants to stay open and continue to employ our friends and neighbors.
- Through the local Chamber of Commerce, leveraged federal dollars to provide free PPE and sanitizing equipment and products to all local businesses.
- 100% forgivable grants to landlords of residential rental properties to cure late/unpaid rent and provide prospective rent payments for those hardest hit by the pandemic.
- 100% forgivable grants to mortgage companies to cure late mortgage payments and provide prospective mortgage payments for those hit hardest by the pandemic
Unlike the CARES program which allocated all funds to the County to distribute, ARP Funding will be directly allocated to the various government entities including the County, the City of Fernandina and the Towns of Hilliard and Callahan. Below is a chart showing the anticipated direct allocations based on a per capita and per square mile basis.
At the May 24th meeting, County Manager, Taco Pope, stated, "When the pandemic came the Spring of 2020, you all (the Board) took action by stabilizing the local economy, taking care of our most vulnerable, and making sure businesses were ready to re-open. As a result, our tourism industry is on pace to exceed 2019 metrics, external dollars are flowing into our hotels, restaurants, and across our service industry, and our local unemployment percentages are at pre-pandemic levels". Mr. Pope further stated, "Nassau County doesn't need to be "rescued". We are ready to propel forward".
As such, the Nassau Florida Prosperity Plan is an opportunity to leverage federal dollars to propel the greater community forward by expanding and diversifying our local economy, creating a more resilient economic ecosystem, facilitating equitable opportunity for wealth creation, and creating lasting public-value.
The Nassau County Prosperity Plan has been constructed around five overarching priorities which are interrelated and additive – each builds one upon the other to create whole that is greater than the sum of the parts.
- Strategic Investment in Infrastructure
- Strategic Investment in Local Business Incubation, Development and Acceleration
- Strategic Investment in Revenue Stabilization and Diversification
- Strategic Investment in Leveraging State/Federal Programs and Liaison Services/Technical Assistance for Non-profit Partners and Community Organizations
- Strategic Investment in Economic Uncertainty
Since guidance from the U.S. Treasury is forthcoming this summer, the adopted Nassau Florida Prosperity Plan will provide the guiding framework for developing specific strategic initiatives, projects, and programs aligned with the American Rescue Plan. No individual project, program or initiative will be executed until the County Manager returns with a further developed Nassau Florida Prosperity Plan that allocates RESCUE dollars to specific projects, programs, and initiatives for the Board's consideration.
Public Information Officer