The Upper Savannah Council of Governments (USCOG) will receive a $400,000 CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant and $760,000 for an additional Revolving Loan Fund from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to help businesses in the USCOG Region impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
“These are unusual grant awards to address unusual times,” USCOG Assistant Director Sam Leaman said.
The EDA offered Economic Development Districts such as USCOG invitations to apply for Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) funding to “prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.”
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s EDA received $1.5 billion in CARES Act funding, including $238 million for the Southeast Region. Upper Savannah applied for and received $400,000 for a two-year project for economic development and recovery planning purposes.
Some of the grant will be used to fund an economic recovery specialist staff person to develop plans and strategies to help local governments, businesses and other stakeholder organizations in the Region respond to and recover from the pandemic. Leaman said the grant will fund this position for two years.
The grant will also fund the development of an economic recovery and resilience plan to address the economic impacts of the pandemic. This plan will include recommendations for how the Upper Savannah Region can better withstand and recover from such events.
This plan will be part of the existing Upper Savannah Region’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS), a five-year plan which serves as a road map for strategic partners to advance policies, programs and projects that support economic opportunity.
“The benefit for the Region is that we will have a plan that helps address the economic impacts of the pandemic so that businesses and local governments will be better able to cope with any similar events in the future,” Leaman said. “When these things happen, they can bounce back a little quicker with this plan in place.”
EDA has been involved for many years in economic adjustments after natural disasters such as hurricanes as well as major layoffs, for instance textile mill closures that occurred several years ago in the Region when many of those jobs went overseas.
“This pandemic is a different kind of disaster, but the economic effect is the same,” Leaman said. “People are losing jobs.”
The $760,000 in the new RLF is to be loaned to businesses in Upper Savannah COG’s lending area over the next two years to alleviate sudden and severe economic dislocation caused by the pandemic.
The lending area includes Abbeville, Edgefield, Greenwood, Laurens, Lexington, McCormick, Newberry and Saluda counties.
“We will be using this money to help businesses who have been impacted by the pandemic,” Leaman said. “These are not forgivable loans. They are to be repaid.”
This RLF is separate from the other EDA-funded revolving loan fund administered by USCOG. Leaman will work with local banks to identify pandemic recovery needs for the new RLF.