Posted on March 24, 2009 6:06 AM
CMAP Economic Recovery Update, 3-24-09
Brookings meeting. CMAP staff Jill Leary and Matt Maloney met last week with representatives from other metropolitan regions at the Brookings Institution to discuss implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and long-term reforms in how federal investments get made. The Kansas City, Philadelphia, and District of Columbia MPOs were there, along with officials from cities, states, non-profits, and other groups from Cleveland, Denver, Las Vegas, Memphis, Minneapolis/St. Paul, the San Francisco bay area, and Tampa. Some of what we learned:
Innovations in implementing the stimulus. California has delegated stimulus implementation through the state's Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, divided by the 12 CalTrans regions. Based on state guidelines and economic criteria, stakeholders in each region are helping to develop by June 1 a Regional Economic Recovery Plan that encourages collaboration, innovation, leveraging resources, expediting infrastructure delivery, and developing the workforce.
The city of Memphis and Shelby County Governments are working in regional cooperation to do more than answer the question: "What's the fastest way to spend economic stimulus funding?" Instead, they are framing the evaluation of potential stimulus projects in a strategic way to re-imagine the infrastructure, become more sustainable, and reduce poverty. They will evaluate projects based on workforce capacity, innovation, connectivity, distinctiveness, and sustainability.
Short- and long-term reforms. Brookings was looking for direction on where to focus their energy in the near term. Broken down by subject area, they gave brief highlights of what they were working on and how the Recovery is linking with the thinking of longer term reforms. Their thinking is aligned with CMAP's regarding how federal policy can facilitate regional action. Brookings is considering how to highlight certain regions' implementation of the ARRA, and our region may be one of them.
Overall, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants and the Weatherization programs generated the most discussion. Bruce Katz, who is on loan to HUD from Brookings, described what sound like pioneering efforts to get federal agencies to collaborate on stimulus issues. There's evidence of progress in last week's announcement of a new sustainability partnership between DOT and HUD. Also in attendance was Derek Douglas, the new special assistant to the President for Urban Affairs, who said they are taking an integrated approach to policy and to redefine "urban affairs" to focus on metropolitan regions.
As follow-up on the Brookings meeting, this week CMAP's internal policy team will meet for a status check on how to prioritize the tracking of investments from certain ARRA funding sources. Our team will also discuss whether any particular pieces of non-transportation ARRA funding present the opportunity for CMAP to play a greater role.
T&I Reporting. Last week we mentioned House Transportation and Infrastructure chairman Oberstar's memo to MPOs, with regard to reporting requirements. The AMPO website has a Word file of the T&I committee's required reporting table, along with a PDF of guidance responding to questions about the requirements. See more below under the Transportation issue area update.
Issue area updates. The CMAP staff have compiled the following status reports:
Transportation. Representatives of the regulating and implementing agencies held an initial meeting on reporting on transportation projects funded through the Recovery Act on March 24. IDOT, CMAP, CTA, Pace, and Metra each have reporting responsibilities, either through the law itself, or through direction of T&I chairman Oberstar. The intent is to have information on ARRA funded projects in northeastern Illinois available at one location. It appears that one report will not suit all needs. Forms have been provided by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and FHWA and FTA are developing guidance on how reporting required in the law will be collected. USDOT continues to provide extensive information on the ARRA on both the FHWA and FTA websites.
Housing. On March 19, HUD posted the Notice of Allocation, Application Procedures and Requirements for the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP). Read more in a web update posted by the CMAP staff.
Broadband. On March 23, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) hosted a roundtable about the ARRA Broadband Initiatives. Click here for a transcript. This meeting focused on nondiscrimination and interconnection obligations, the role of the States, and broadband mapping. The last of four public meetings was held today, with a focus on post-award compliance and oversight, selection criteria, and community economic development. The details of this competitive grant are in development. The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices published an overview of the opportunities available to states in broadband deployment.
Brownfields. The ARRA allocated $100 million to the U.S. EPA for Brownfields. The funds are going to flow through existing Brownfield grant programs. The U.S. EPA is currently in its grant cycle for assessment and clean-up grants, and is evaluating applications received in November. ARRA funds will be used on the most "ready-to-go" applications, thereby freeing up appropriated funds to award additional grants. In addition, the U.S. EPA just announced that 10 job training grants ($500,000 each) will be awarded with ARRA funds. Information about these job training grants can be found on the U.S. EPA recovery website. Applications are due April 20, 2009.
Energy. The DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy has posted details about the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), which received $5 billion from the ARRA to expedite the weatherization of low-income homes. The Funding Opportunity Announcement has been posted, as well as a fact sheet with state-by-state funding allocations. Also learn how to apply for weatherization assistance and who to contact here in Illinois.
U.S. EPA developed a guide to help state and local governments see which EPA programs could be leveraged to expand or develop clean energy initiatives in their locality. Click here for the State and Local Guide to U.S. EPA Climate and Energy Program Resources. Register on-line for upcoming webcasts. See the slides from their recent webcast, "Using EPA Resources to Maximize Clean Energy in Economic Recovery Spending."
Chicago Area Clean Cities is a voluntary organization dedicated to encouraging the use of clean fuels and clean vehicle technologies in northeastern Illinois, and a part of a national Clean Cities effort, coordinated through the DOE. It is also an excellent resource for information about the several types of ARRA funds targeted towards alternative fuel and clean diesel projects. Click here for a PDF with more information.
Workforce Development. On March 18, the Department of Employment and Training Administration released a Training and Employment Guidance Letter with guidance for the ARRA funds dedicated to workforce training through the adult, youth, and dislocated formula grants, authorized by the Workforce Investment Act. The document also includes guidance for funds being distributed for reemployment services authorized by the Wagner-Peyser Act. Click here to read much more about the letter in a CMAP staff update. Also, a new website was created to provide information specific to the ARRA funding for workforce training.
News links. Among the related coverage:
- WBEZ's Eight Forty-Eight program aired a long segment for which I was interviewed about how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is benefitting our region's transportation system. Click here to hear the segment or the entire March 18 podcast. This was part of a series on the stimulus bill that was kicked off on Monday with Ralph Martire of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability.
- WBEZ also reports that the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) will use $143 million in stimulus funds to complete renovation projects that include demolition and adding safety cameras.
- According to the Chicago Tribune, Fermilab and Argonne National Laboratory will receive, respectively, $34.9 million and $13.1 million from the ARRA for construction, infrastructure, and research. Both labs also anticipate further ARRA funding.