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Association to offer economic development grants

Officials in cities and towns across the state work every day to encourage economic activity in their communities. However, limited resources often prevent them from reaching their economic development goals.

Recognizing this challenge, the Municipal Association’s board of directors has created the Hometown Economic Development Grant program. The grants will fund economic development activities that have a positive impact on creating jobs and improving the quality of life in cities and towns.

Beginning this fall, cities and towns can apply for grants up to $25,000 to fund economic development projects that will produce measurable results, can be maintained over time by the city or town and can be replicated in other municipalities.

Examples of eligible activities for grant funding include professional services related to producing master plans or conducting analysis for marketing, branding or promoting cities and towns and their local businesses; infrastructure development; and the creation of programs or assets for public use in conjunction with private or nonprofit organizations.

Cities that receive a Hometown Economic Development Grant must provide matching funds. Matching amounts, determined by a city’s population, will range from 5 percent to 15 percent of the grant award. Cities can use in-kind contributions or other grant funds as their match.

An awards committee comprised of current and former local government professionals will evaluate grant applications and make awards annually. The board has earmarked $200,000 for 2016 grant awards.

The awards committee will evaluate applications based on the anticipated impact on the city or town, expected return on investment, financial need, the city’s track record for accomplishing similar projects, the project’s level of innovation, plans to sustain the project, and the ability for other cities to replicate the project with similar, measurable results.

Cities that receive a grant must submit reports about the progress and successes of each grant-funded project and provide financial details of how the grant funds were used. The Association’s field services managers will visit every award recipient to review their projects.

The Association will provide additional details about the Hometown Economic Development Grant program at the 2016 Municipal Association Annual Meeting in Charleston.