American Rescue Plan Act projects approved by Roanoke City Council

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 10:14 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The city of Roanoke received $64.5 million from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Then, they created a panel of citizens to figure out how to spend it.

After many meetings, the Star City Recovery and Resiliency plans were presented to the city council Monday night.

It’s a process that’s taken months, with input from the public and the 30-some members on the panel narrowing more than 100 ideas to nine major projects.

“They’ll invest in programs and initiatives that benefit people, places and governance in a way that enhances prosperity and health and well-being,” says Roanoke City Manager Bob Cowell.

The first five initiatives will be recovery projects, designed to offer fast results for those in need, focusing on issues surrounding healthcare, transportation, and the workforce, including small business grants.

“Grants would be made available for businesses that would continue to have economic losses due to COVID and that may come in the form of five thousand dollars or ten thousand dollars,” explains Cowell.

The larger, more expensive resiliency projects would aim to improve the city experience overall.

The city will be looking to build a community hub in the Northwest area, as well as more affordable housing. An estimated $8 million would be spent on a new recreation center. Plus, a new co-working space in historic Gainsboro would be a hub for minority small business owners.

“It’s designed to help those getting ready to start a business as well as those that actually have a business but want to grow that business,” adds Cowell.

The cost of all nine projects added up to about $36 million worth of investments.

Cowell says members of the panel are looking forward to being part of the process, and similar with the CARES act task force, getting to see their ideas come to life.

“We showed them at the end a report that said, your recommendations were followed through and we were able to help 100 businesses, we were able to help this many families, and so what I heard from them was very rewarding, that we saw them all the way through that process,” said Cowell.

Each of these projects will require collaboration with the city’s partners, to develop proposals and construction bids for new structures like the rec center and business hubs.

The city has until 2024 to spend all these dollars.

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