Berrien Co. collaborating with Strategic Leadership Council on usage of American Rescue Act funds
NILES, Mich. — Berrien County officials are working on how best to distribute funds from the American Rescue Plan.
“We have to prepare today with what the federal government is providing, $1.9 trillion is a massive amount of money, how do we best utilize that so it has 30, 40, 50 years of impact on our community,” said John Proos, Executive Director of the Strategic Leadership Council.
Representatives from Berrien County and its 39 township, cities and villages have been meeting with the Strategic Leadership Council ahead of the distribution of funds.
The county is set to receive two, $15 million payments over the next two years, but municipalities still need to apply on their own or leverage the county for some of their projects delayed by the pandemic.
“Imagine you’re able to take some of the small money – not insignificant – at the municipal level and combine it with the resources of the county – which has nearly $30 million – you could see significant investments,” said Proos.
While Berrien County does already have ideas for how to use the funding, like fixing roads and bridges, park improvements and rural broadband, the Strategic Leadership Council has been brought in in to help them through what the allowable uses are under the American Rescue Plan.
“So long as you’re able to tie that back to pandemic support – not only necessary for human capital but especially those that have had significant funding issues to access to food, healthcare – you can imagine there’s a significant number of resources needed,” said Proos.
Berrien County is also consulting organizations like United Way of Southwest Michigan on what money could be given for charitable expenses that were cut short due to COVID-19.