County seeks community input on federal funding

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Stan Stek. Courtesy Kent County

The Kent County Board of Commissioners recently launched a community engagement process to determine spending priorities from federal funding.

Residents now have an opportunity to help identify how to allocate part of the $127.6 million Kent County received through the American Rescue Plan (ARP).

The board of commissioners developed five key areas for this investment: community health, quality of life, infrastructure, economic innovations/workforce development and improving government operations.

“We will use (ARP) funding to support transformational initiatives and build a better and more equitable future in Kent County,” said Kent County Board Chair Stan Stek. “Working together, these investments are certain to transform the future of our community.”

The community engagement process includes multiple ways to submit ideas and proposals, including an interactive website, community forums, an online survey and an online form.

The new website outlines where and how ARP funds will be spent and allows residents to sign up for updates, get information on meetings and review the county’s performance reports.

Community forums are set to take place from 6-7 p.m. Thursday, June 2, at 700 Fuller Ave. NE in Grand Rapids; Monday, June 6, at the Creative Teaching and Learning Center at Rockford High School, 4100 Kroes St. NE; and Wednesday, June 8, at the Gaines Charter Township offices, at 8555 Kalamazoo Ave. SE in Caledonia.

Each event will cover the same information about ARP funding eligibilities and priorities. The June 2 meeting will be live-streamed on the county’s Facebook page.

In addition, residents can utilize the priorities and ideas survey to rank the priority areas by Friday, June 24, and an online form to submit proposals is available until Friday, July 15.

An internal team will review feedback and ideas during June, July and August before submission to the board of commissioners. The board will selective initiatives and start appropriating funds in July, August or September.

ARP funding commitments must be in in place by Dec. 31, 2024, but the county has until December 2026 to spend the money.

ARP was passed by the federal government in March 2021 to give eligible state, local, territorial and tribal governments federal aid in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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