OLD LYME – The town is using its federal COVID relief money to fund two grant programs for small businesses and nonprofits that were impacted by the pandemic or have ideas for programs that can address COVID-related impacts on the community.
Applications for the Economic Recovery Grant for businesses and nonprofits that lost revenue and the Community Initiative Grant for businesses, nonprofits and local government boards and commissions are available on the town’s website, and are due by 4 p.m. on May 2.
Both grants will be funded with part of the $2.162 million Old Lyme received from the federal American Rescue Plan Act to aid in recovering from the COVID pandemic. The total amount issued through the two grant programs will depend on how many applications the town receives, Old Lyme ARPA Committee member Cheryl Poirier said.
The Economic Recovery Grant will award grants of up to $10,000 to small businesses and nonprofits that have lost income as a result of the COVID pandemic.
The town has hired George Krivda as an outside consultant to review the economic recovery grant applications. Krivda’s contract – an hourly agreement that could pay him a maximum of $20,000 out of the town’s ARPA funds – was approved at a town meeting in March.
Poirier said the primary reason for hiring an outside consultant to review those applications was the workload it will involve. Krivda, who has done similar consulting for other towns on ARPA-funded grants, will review the applications, work with businesses to make sure their applications are complete, and score each application before passing the information on the the ARPA committee.
The Community Initiative Grant does not have a maximum amount for individual applications. The town is looking for applications that address one or more of the needs the ARPA committee identified in a town survey: infrastructure and broadband, mental health services, government services, premium pay for first responders, assistance to families, early childhood support, increasing tourism and local business patronage, and affordable housing.
“One thing we learned in our survey was that there are people who either don’t have the time or financial resources to seek out mental health assistance,” Poirier said. “So we would love to see an organization propose an initiative that could provide more mental health services.”
Poirier said initiatives to increase traffic to local businesses and to local attractions, or infrastructure projects like broadband improvements would be welcome. Anything that addresses a need either created or exacerbated by the pandemic, especially the ones identified in the town survey.
In May, the ARPA committee will review applications for both grant programs, and will recommend to the Board of Selectmen which applications to fund. The Board of Selectmen will then decide which applications to send to town meeting for final approval.
Correction: This article was updated to reflect that both grants are available to both small businesses and nonprofits.