Treating our diseased economy locally during COVID-19 pandemic
On March 27, President Donald Trump signed the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law as the rest of the country feverishly tried to weather the coronavirus pandemic.
The CARES Act establishes the Coronavirus Relief Fund, which gives states, tribal governments and local governments $150 billion to help cover any unbudgeted COVID-19-related costs incurred between March 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, according to the National League of Cities (NLC).
Only local governments of jurisdictions with over 500,000 residents qualify for direct financial assistance from the fund, the NLC notes. While states will receive most of the fund’s money, no part of the CARES Act stipulates that states must give money to other local governments.
By the end of March however, 701,000 jobs were lost, per U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Some local governments have taken matters into their own hands and have passed local economic stimulus packages to help mitigate the economic damage their communities will have to endure.
“For a period of time, we needed to make sure we were focusing on our community and making sure that as legislation worked its way through Capitol Hill, that we were focusing on economic sustainability here at home,” says Columbia, S.C., Mayor Steve Benjamin.
“So, we just put our minds together, our council, our staff, our local business folks, our nonprofit leaders, and came up with A Resilient Columbia,” Benjamin adds.
A Resilient Columbia, approved on March 20, is the city’s $6.5 million economic stimulus plan. Of that total, $2 million went towards a small business and nonprofit stabilization plan, Benjamin says.
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