May 14th Information & Resources Update
Summary: House Proposal for "Phase 4" of COVID-19 Stimulus Relief

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to take up, as early as tomorrow, a 4th round of federal stimulus funding in response to COVID-19. HR 6800, "The Heroes [Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions] Act," is a roughly $3 trillion spending plan that would provide funding for state, local, and tribal governments; hazard pay for essential workers; extension of unemployment benefits; funding for testing, tracing, and treatments; forgiveness of student loan debt; assistance to renters and homeowners for foreclosure and eviction prevention; election security funding; financial relief for the U.S. Postal Service; and an additional round of direct stimulus payments to citizens, among other provisions.

Please note that this summary is being provided for informational purposes only. Based on public statements, significant differences between House and Senate leadership suggest that agreement on a 4th stimulus package among the two houses of Congress, and the White House, is far from imminent. Senate leadership and the White House have signaled preference for a far more limited approach.

The 495/MetroWest Partnership has endorsed further federal stimulus funding specifically to support and stabilize the operations of state governments; this position was adopted unanimously by our Executive Steering Committee on May 6th. State governments are likely to face severe financial constraints without additional federal support, which in turn will likely impact local governments. Click here to read the letter sent to members of the Partnership's Congressional delegation.
EDA Now Accepting Applications for CARES Act Recovery Assistance to Support Construction, Non-Construction, Planning, & Technical Assistance for Public Works and EAA Programs

The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) has released their FY 2020 Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO). The CARES Act allocated $1.5 billion for economic development assistance programs to help communities prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, being distributed through this initiative.

This funding opportunity will provide investments that support construction, non construction, planning, technical assistance, and revolving loan fund projects under EDA’s Public Works program and EAA program. Grants and cooperative agreements made under these programs are designed to leverage existing regional assets and support the implementation of economic development strategies that advance new ideas and creative approaches to advance economic prosperity in distressed communities.

Eligible applicants include:
  • District Organizations of EDA-designated Economic Development Districts
  • State, county, city or other political subdivisions
  • Higher education institutions and consortiums
  • Public or private non-profits or associations acting in cooperation with officials of a political subdivision of a state

Effective immediately, applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the publication of a new NOFO, or until all available funds have been expended. There are no submission deadlines; the EDA intends to review all applications within 60 days of receipt. To access the full NOFO, click here.

All projects considered for funding must be consistent with one of the EDA's investment priorities:
  • Recovery & Resilience
  • Critical Infrastructure
  • Workforce Development & Manufacturing
  • Exports & Foreign Direct Investment
  • Opportunity Zones

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact their EDA representative before submitting an application to EDA to clarify technical matters involving their project, its alignment with EDA’s mission and Investment Priorities, and all other relevant publicly available information relating to general technical matters. Projects funded under PWEEA must comply with their region's current Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy or equivalent EDA-accepted regional economic development strategy. EDA's Massachusetts Regional Contact is Debra Beavin ( click here for email), (215) 597-8719.
Proposed EPA Modifications to NPDES MS4 General Permits for Massachusetts Communities

The EPA is proposing targeted modifications to the 2016 Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) general permit for Massachusetts communities. The proposed modifications are designed to "provide municipalities with more tools and flexibilities for permit implementation while also ensuring that water quality is protected and the goals of the Clean Water Act (CWA) are met."

The proposed modifications were developed through a multi-year mediation between EPA and the parties who challenged the underlying 2016 permit. The proposed modifications are identical to those attached to the litigation settlement agreement announced for public comment in December 2019 and executed in April 2020 between EPA and the permit litigants, which included municipalities, environmental groups, and other affected stakeholders.

The EPA will accept written public comments on the proposed permit modifications until June 8, 2020.  Click here for information on submitting written comments.

MS4 permits are NPDES permits that authorize certain discharges of municipal stormwater to surface waters. EPA issued the Massachusetts Small MS4 General Permit in 2016. After EPA finalized the 2016 MS4 Permit, various parties filed petitions for review; these petitions were consolidated with a challenge to EPA’s 2017 New Hampshire Small MS4 General Permit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Once consolidated, the cases were entered into the DC Circuit’s mediation program; after more than two years of discussions, the parties negotiated a proposed settlement agreement which was announced December 27, 2019, issued for public comment, and executed by all parties on April 15, 2020. Under the terms of that settlement agreement, EPA committed to proposing certain modifications to this Small MS4 General Permit.

Informational Webinar: EPA will hold an informational webinar on the proposed permit modifications to the Massachusetts Small MS4 General Permit on June 1st from 11:00am to 12:00pm.  Click here to register for the June 1 webinar.
Join the 495/MetroWest Partnership &
the MassHire Metro South/West Workforce Board for our
MetroWest Weekly Employer Town Hall Series

Area employers are invited to join the 495/MetroWest Partnership and the MassHire Metro South/West Workforce Board for our continuing weekly discussions surrounding critical issues business are facing right now. We will answer questions about the various resources that are available to companies and their workers during these difficult times.

Topics addressed include:
  • Financial resources available to all businesses that can help support businesses negatively affected by this pandemic
  • The programs and organizations available help weather this crisis such as Rapid Response, WorkShare, and Federal stimulus programs
  • The Department of Unemployment Assistance and staffing options
  • Updates on pending legislation aimed at addressing the impact on the economy and business community

These discussions are open to any interested party, and are held each Wednesday afternoon starting May 6th, at 1:00 PM via Zoom. Click here to sign up!

  • Jason Palitsch, Executive Director, the 495/Metro West Partnership
  • Greg Bunn, Executive Director, MassHire Metro South/West Workforce Board
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out if the Partnership can be of any assistance to you. Partnership operations are continuing throughout the duration of the current public health crisis, with our staff working remotely. You may reach me directly via email at [email protected] .

Jason Palitsch
Executive Director
The 495/MetroWest Partnership