Scott Commits $ 50 Million in ARPA Fund for Workforce Development and Economic Stimulus Fund


Mayor Brandon Scott on Tuesday announced he would invest $ 55 million in funding the American Rescue Plan Act for economic initiatives. The Mayor’s Office for Employment Development will receive $ 30 million to fund workforce development programs, while $ 25 million will go towards the creation of a stimulus fund for small businesses , non-profit organizations and artists in difficulty.

The announcement marks Scott’s third major ARPA announcement. The federal relief program gives Baltimore $ 641 million to spend on pandemic recovery efforts, as Scott sees it. he gave $ 80 million to the Department of Health and $50 million for violence prevention efforts; An additional $ 110 million has been set aside in the event of a budget deficit.

Scott described Tuesday’s fundraising round, announced at the Youth Opportunity Eastside Center, a way to get unemployed Baltimores back to work while providing a lifeline small businesses desperately need amid the financial uncertainty of the pandemic. .

“These projects will improve the chances of economic success for those who were systematically disadvantaged even before COVID-19 hit our doorstep, and we all know they have also been disproportionately affected by COVID,” Scott said.

The Mayor’s Office for Employment Development (MOED) will receive $ 30 million to fund four workforce development programs: Hire Up, Train Up and an expansion of YouthWorks, as well as support from the labor for participants.

Hire Up will connect at least 220 low-income residents with $ 15 an hour, 6-month positions in municipal and quasi-government agencies.

Train Up is to connect nearly 1,000 residents to vocational training programs that lead to industry-recognized degrees. The trainings are specifically aimed at helping residents enter fields such as biotechnology, business services, healthcare and information technology. The program will cost $ 8.9 million.

Another $ 8.4 million will go to YouthWorks, which funds summer jobs for 14 to 21 year olds with private employers, nonprofits, and city and state governments in Baltimore. The money will be used to fund jobs for 4,000 young people over two summers and to create YouthWorks’ first-ever annual program, called YouthWorks Academy.

An additional $ 2.9 million will fund professional navigation programs for those enrolled in Hire Up, Train Up and Youthworks, including behavioral health, legal services, adult education and financial empowerment counseling . This money will also go to wage subsidies for small minority-owned businesses and women “who hire residents affected by the pandemic,” Scott said.

MOED Director Jason Perkins-Cohen called the programs the largest workforce training investment in the city’s history.

“We’re all focused on jobs, but they don’t always lead to careers and ours have to. Our residents want and deserve a path to careers that support their families, ”he said. “We invest in adults and we invest in our young people with vocational training to offer career paths towards a living wage. “

Scott described the $ 25 million economic relief fund as a way to provide immediate support to businesses and communities hardest hit by the pandemic.

It will be distributed among several groups of residents, with the city’s quasi-agencies administering different grants.

The Baltimore Development Corporation will receive $ 11.7 million to support small businesses. Scott said BDC aims to disburse 70% of ARPA grants to these companies.

Colin Tarbert, President and CEO of BDC, said municipal businesses owned by people of color have more difficulty accessing federal and state assistance during a pandemic and lack the resources to pivot operations to adapt to fluctuating restrictions.

BDC launched the Small Business Technical Assistance Network to help these businesses navigate assistance programs, linking them to $ 40 million in financial assistance. The organization will use ARPA funding to continue the program and provide direct assistance.

Tarbert said small businesses have identified many other gaps as well, including access to or knowledge of e-commerce, legal aid, and financial accounting assistance – all areas critical to surviving the pandemic.

The ARPA funding “will also allow us to support small businesses in these professional services which will be matched with small businesses in need of these services,” Tarbert said.

The Baltimore Civic Fund, which is a tax sponsor for many of the city’s nonprofits, will receive $ 8.3 million to distribute to more than 300 of these organizations. BCF organized a nonprofit relief fund, which distributed more than $ 7 million to 160 nonprofit organizations.

BCF President HyeSook Chung said nonprofits have stepped up to help city residents despite sweeping operational changes and challenges brought on by the pandemic.

“They provided the most essential services: housing, food, shelter, mental health services. They have adapted. Yet we did not follow up, ”Chung said. “They are part of the critical system of economic recovery. “

Family League of Baltimore to receive $ 2 million to support Baltimore’s child care industry; it will administer subsidy relief for about 160 child care providers, prioritizing those who did not receive financial assistance last year. CEO Demaune Millard said the city’s childcare businesses, which normally have low overheads, have faced widely varying attendance as offices are far away or closed completely.

He remembers talking to a daycare on the phone last year. She was in tears, explaining that keeping her business open would mean going into debt or having to file for bankruptcy.

“I said, ‘Well you know it’s obviously a really tough decision you have to make, but I hear the kids in the background. “And she said, ‘the need in the community is still there,'” Millard said. “I said, ‘Who are you serving? She said, “Their parents are essential workers.” “

Visit Baltimore will receive $ 2.5 million to help the hospitality industry, especially hotels. Al Hutchinson, president and CEO of the organization, said that before the pandemic, 27 million people visited Baltimore each year, resulting in $ 10 million in tourist taxes and 86,000 jobs.

After March 2020, those numbers were decimated, he said, noting that workers in the city’s hospitality industry are predominantly black or brown.

“This is a mom who lives here in East Baltimore, raising her family to work at one of these hotels in Baltimore City,” he said. “He’s a father who lives in West Baltimore who tries to educate his kids, sends them to school, who works in a hotel in Baltimore City. He’s a kid going to college at Coppin or Morgan State, working part-time in a hotel. Many of these people were affected when COVID hit. “

Hutchinson said Visit Baltimore will spend the money to get hospitality workers back to work and jumpstart the economic engine that is tourism.

The Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts, also known as BOPA, will receive half a million dollars to support local artists and creators, both in the form of direct grants and project funding. The pandemic has closed galleries, theaters, concert halls, festivals and public events – shutting down both creative expression and income from the city’s artistic community.

BOPA CEO Donna Drew Sawyer said the money will provide $ 3,500 in grants to individual artists and creators who have clearly been affected by the pandemic.

“And while $ 3,500 doesn’t seem like a lot, it’s a lifeline for many artists in our city,” she said. “I pledge to use these economic stimulus funds coupled with the energy and expertise that fueled our grassroots emergency relief fund at the onset of the pandemic.”

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