Since March 14, Louisiana has seen nearly 630,000 unemployment claims, accounting for almost 30 percent of the state’s workforce.  Now is a critical time for local governments and institutions to invest in projects and programs that will stimulate the economy and get Louisianans back to work.
Through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, known as the CARES Act, $1.5 billion is allocated to the US Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) to administer grants through its established Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) program.
This funding provides our five-state region (Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and New Mexico) $236 million for the creation of projects that spur economic growth and create jobs following this pandemic.
EDA will fund up to 100 percent of the project cost through special provisions provided by EDA through the CARES Act program. Eligibility is open to State and local government entities, institutions of higher education, non-profit entities, and federally recognized tribes. It is not required that the entity be a part of an economic development district. EDA has determined that economic injury due to the coronavirus a “special need” under the EAA program may be eligible without reference to other economic distress criteria. Applicants will still be required to convey how their project would prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus or respond to economic injury as a result of coronavirus.
EAA projects must be consistent with the local area’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) or equivalent EDA-accepted regional economic development strategy. A CEDS is a locally driven, economic development plan that outlines a regions vision and key strategies. EAA projects can include, but are not limited to:
“strategy grants” to create or update a CEDS or disaster recovery plan;
construction or upgrades to public infrastructure, including broadband;
construction and operations of business incubators;
capitalization of revolving loan funds, which generally assist small businesses, and other initiatives to improve access to and utilization of private capital;
activities that support the creation of businesses and jobs, including economic diversification strategies; and
market or industry research studies, technical assistance, training, and capacity-building efforts.
Applications are being accepted through www.grants.gov until all funds have been exhausted.
For questions about how to manage federally funded projects and programs, and develop economic recovery plans using EDA grant funding please contact Taylor Gravois, PE, PLS.
 Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Weekly unemployment claims data as of May 21, 2020, as reported by NBCNews.com