Welcome to SARPC's digital newsletter. Our goal is to publish a newsletter bi-monthly that provides highlights of projects and activities being undertaken at the agency. If you have any questions or would like to request additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us.
In This Issue

With school ending and summer upon us your SARPC Team  continues providing  services, programs, training, consulting and caring within our three County Region. Job Fair, Planning and Zoning Seminar, Masters Games, Census Training, Senior (SAIL) Center activities, Transportation Planning, Grant writing and administration, RSVP and staffing assistance are just a few of the responsibilities we are involved with in all parts of Mobile, Baldwin and Escambia counties. We look forward to meeting the strategic challenges and opportunities within our Region as we work closely with local, County, State and Federal officials to enhance our quality of life. HAVE A GREAT AND SAFE SUMMER!!!


John F. "Rickey" Rhodes

Rickey Rhodes  and Dianne Burnette attending Alabama League of Municipalities Conference in Mobile, also shown is Dennis Stripling.

M obile MPO Updates

There was a Mobile MPO meeting this month, the agenda items included a draft 2020-2023 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), a draft Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP), and some minor edits to the Public Participation Plan (PPP).  There are also numerous projects modified in the current 2016-2019 TIP. Finally, there will be a discussion concerning the 2045 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP). 
Also discussed at the meeting, President Trump signed into law the Appropriations Act of 2019 which allocated $10,097,088 of federal funds to the State of Alabama for MPO projects. That translates to almost $2 million for the Mobile MPO ($1,944,435).  The TCC/CAC deliberated at the April 24th meeting on how to treat this Special Allocation.  It could be used for any variety of STP type projects.  It was discussed the $2 million Special Allocation could be used for a beautification type award, through a competitive type process, OR be placed into the regular STP Attributable funding for future deficits.  The TCC/CAC voted to recommend to the MPO to use the $2 million (fed) for future deficits of the existing projects and the MPO agreed. 

RPO Updates

This week and last week, SARPC hosted a series of public input meetings in Mobile, AL, Atmore, AL and Robertsdale, AL concerning the DRAFT   Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP).

The ALDOT is seeking public comment on the proposed STIP, which includes a listing of specific transportation projects that will be funded during the next four years.
The meetings were held in an open house format. Displays and information, along with a short presentation, were included to explain the requirements to have a STIP. ALDOT and SARPC staff was available to discuss planning efforts and answer questions.
The DRAFT STIP 2020-2023 will be available for review at the South Alabama Regional Planning Commission Offices, located at the GM&O Building at 110 Beauregard Street, Suite 207 Mobile, AL 36602. Comments will be accepted until June 30, 2019 and should be forwarded to:

State Office Engineer
Alabama Department of Transportation
P.O. Box 3050
Montgomery, AL 36130-3050
OR :
Submit your comments electronically by going to ALDOT's web page: www.dot.state.al.us
Click on: DRAFT 2020-2023 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program

New Vehicles

The City of Prichard received a new passenger bus using 5310 funds.

Rickey Rhodes and Arnita Diamond with the new passenger bus.

Freight Data
APM Terminals has provided us with their third quarterly survey report. Just as last quarter, for one day APM Terminals had on-board tablets for drivers to answer a series of questions in terms of where they came from and where they are going.  APM Terminals will continue to gather this information quarterly for our benefit of validating truck data for the travel demand forecasting model. This third survey report had 88% of trucker visits answering the survey, the best percentage yet, which helps refine our understanding of container truck trip patterns in the area.  See more   HERE .

Transportation Improvement Program( TIP)

The TIP represents a four year program (2016-2019) for improvements in the various transportation systems located within the Mobile study area as identified in the Mobile MPO's Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), the twenty-five year plan for the Mobile Urban Area Destination 2040. The LRTP establishes the transportation programs that are needed to meet travel demand by the study year and study area. LRTP projects that become funded are moved into the TIP and submitted to the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT), where they are programmed into the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). For MPO projects, TIP project selection is based on priorities established by MPO member governments and the availability of funds through the Surface Transportation Attributable program. For other projects, ALDOT has discretion of project funding based on availability of funds from various types of funding categories.  Most often, projects in the TIP are derived from the LRTP. The TIP guides ALDOT in its annual allocation of funds for transportation improvements and becomes a part of the STIP.
ArcGIS Online is now being utilized by MPO staff to map all federally funded surface transportation projects within our area. Check it out.
2016-2019 E-TIP HERE


Funding & Resource Announcements

Opportunity Zones

The Governor's Office, with the input of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, identified and selected 158 Opportunity Zones in the state. There are Opportunity Zones in each of our Counties. You can find the map of Opportunity Zones at: https://adecagis.alabama.gov/ozones/

Access to Capital

New Guidelines and Resources for Opportunity Zones:
IRS Issues New Proposed Guidance to Further Clarify OZ Tax Benefits

On April 17, the Internal Revenue Service issued a second set of   guidance (PDF) providing additional details about investment in qualified opportunity zones. These regulations relate to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), the tax reform legislation enacted in December 2017.

The proposed regulations allow the deferral of all or part of a gain that is invested into a Qualified Opportunity Fund (QO Fund) that would otherwise be includible in income. The gain is deferred until the investment is sold or exchanged or Dec. 31, 2026, whichever is earlier.

A key part of the newly released guidance clarifies the "substantially all" requirements for the holding period and use of the tangible business property:
  • For use of the property, at least 70 percent of the property must be used in a qualified opportunity zone.
  • For the holding period of the property, tangible property must be qualified opportunity zone business property for at least 90 percent of the QO Fund's or qualified opportunity zone business's holding period.
  • The partnership or corporation must be a qualified opportunity zone business for at least 90 percent of the QO Fund's holding period.
The guidance notes there are situations where deferred gains may become taxable if an investor transfers their interest in a QO Fund. Many other elements of the incentives and eligibility are also clarified in the 169 page  guidance (PDF), which is posted on IRS.gov.

IRS is inviting comments on these proposed regulations and will hold a public hearing on July 9, 2019 to accept additional input.
Report Lists Federal Programs That Support Opportunity Zones

In addition, federal agencies will provide more than 160 programs in order to increase targeting to Opportunity Zones through grant preference points, loan qualifications, reduced fees, and eligibility criteria modifications.
Click the link to see the list of over  50 programs  that Council member agencies have already taken action to better target to Opportunity Zones.
Updated FY 2019 Section 108 Borrowing Capacity for Entitlement and State Grantees   The Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program (Section 108) provides communities with a source of financing for economic development, housing rehabilitation, public facilities, and other physical development projects, including improvements to increase their resilience against natural disasters. This flexibility makes it one of the most potent and important public investment tools that HUD offers to state and local governments.   Learn about Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program
On April 18, HUD released an updated document that provides information on existing borrowing capacity for CDBG Entitlement Communities and States looking to apply for  Section 108 guaranteed loans. (Non-entitlement communities can apply with their State's support.) Section 108 offers state and local governments the ability to access low-cost, long-term federally guaranteed financing for housing, economic development, and infrastructure projects or loan funds. These borrowing capacity calculations are based on the FY 2019 CDBG grant awards as well as grantees' outstanding Section 108 guaranteed loans and commitments as of April 2019.  View the Current Availability of Section 108 Financing - CDBG Entitlement and State Grantees.


USDA Technical Assistance Grants for Rural Transportation Systems. Due June 25.
The Department of Agriculture's Rural-Business Cooperative Service is inviting applications for grants to provide Technical Assistance for Rural Transportation (RT) systems under the Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG) to provide Technical Assistance for RT systems and for RT systems to Federally Recognized Native American Tribes' (FRNAT) (collectively ``Programs'') and the terms provided in such funding. Successful applications will be selected by the Agency for funding and subsequently awarded from funds appropriated for the RBDG program.  The full announcement can be found in the March 27 FEDERAL REGISTER.  Note references to funding projects that benefit Opportunity Zones and communities responding to impacts from Opioid Misuse.
EPA Credit Assistance Available for Water Infrastructure. Submit LOI by Jul 5.
EPA has published a Notice of Funding Availability on April 5, soliciting letters of interest (LOIs) from prospective borrowers seeking credit assistance for projects eligible under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) Program. WIFIA program is accepting letters of interest until July 5, 2019. See links below to access further details:
DOT Opens FY20 Applications for BUILD Grants.

The Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Grants 2019 Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) is now available on Grants.gov and at  www.transportation.gov/buildgrants/build-nofo. See below for links to pages with helpful information about the new round of BUILD:
Public Meetings, Events and Training
  • UEDA Summit: Designing Resilient Regions. September 29 - October 2 (Reno-Tahoe, Nevada)
Details: http://www.uedaannualsummit.org(registration opening in March)
HUD Seeks Input on Maximizing Benefits for Opportunity Zones. Comment by Jun 17.
HUD is seeking public input on how the Department can use its existing authorities to maximize the beneficial impact of Opportunity Zones for residents and their communities.

On April 17, the Department issued a Request For Information (RFI) seeking information and recommendations from the public, regarding the use of public and private investments in urban and economically distressed communities, including qualified Opportunity Zones. The RFI is a part of the work Secretary Carson is undertaking as the Chair of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council.
In this RFI, HUD is seeking information on several questions, including:
  • Whether HUD should create an information portal, and what information it should include;
  • How HUD should prioritize support for urban and economically distressed areas, including Opportunity Zones, in its grants, financing, and other assistance;
  • What types of technical assistance should be offered through HUD;
  • How HUD can ensure existing residents, businesses, and community organizations in Opportunity Zones benefit from the influx of investment;
  • How HUD can properly evaluate the impact of Opportunity Zones on communities;
  • Any other aspects of Opportunity Zones that should be considered.
Interested persons may submit comments electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at  www.regulations.gov.  Comments due June 17, 2019. View full details in the Federal Register here.

Disaster Recovery Resources & Info
Primary site for Disaster Recovery Assistance:
Where to Find Federal Disaster Declarations
  • You can find the latest federal emergency and disaster declarations, as well as prior declarations for other areas, on FEMA's disaster declarations webpage.
  • Amended Declarations: Existing Declarations may be subsequently amended to expand covered areas, provide notification that an incident has been closed, or make other necessary changes.
Funding and other Assistance Available for Recovery:
See the following links for details:
Economic Recovery Support & the National Disaster Response Framework
  • Read more about the Economic Recovery Support Function and the National Disaster Response Framework here

SARPC's 21st Business Expo and Job Fair

This was another successful year for the 21 st  Annual Business Expo and Job Fair. The Employment and Economic Development Services staff worked hard and managed to secure 101 vendors. Seen below is a picture of one of twenty sponsors.

As we all know the unemployment rate has been soooooo low. Therefore, we did not know what kind of participation to expect from the vendors as well as the job seekers. We found out that there are still workers who are in "a job" but not "the job." This means they are under-employed or had to take a job in the past due to their previous job being dissolved. Therefore, they are in the process of making themselves more marketable by going to college or training programs to prepare them for the career they desire.
In addition to businesses seeking qualified workers the event provided resources to assist the job seekers in changing their career trajectory. If that was not enough, workshops were conducted to assist the job seekers with resume development, interviewing skills and networking skills.

Finally, we cannot close this discussion without sharing the news of the appearance of the Alabama Career Bus. On this bus there are multiple computer stations which provide internet access for the job seeker to apply online to job openings. After the job seeker discovered what jobs they wanted to apply for they could exit the event, step on the bus and apply for that job before ever leaving the premises.
We want to thank all of the sponsors for their generous participation.

This event would not be possible without their support!

Mature Staffing Service (MSS)

The associates of Mature Staffing Service (MSS) are focused to provide qualified and dependable employees to organizations seeking employees.  Additionally, a concerted effort is made to contact representatives of non-profit organizations and government entities to inform them of the services MSS can provide: assistance in locating the right talent, handling all payroll processes which include Worker Compensation coverage, payroll taxes (federal and state), etc.  MSS takes the work and the risk while the employer gets to relax.  

Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP)

Participants in the Senior Community Service Program met for their quarterly meeting.  Students from the University of South Alabama Department of Human Resources conducted mock interviews with our SCSEP participants.  This was done in preparation for them to attend the job fair on May 9.  The students and the SCSEP participants receive mutual benefits from the process.


South Alabama RSVP Program

The South Alabama RSVP program held volunteer recognitions in Escambia County on May 15 at Southern Pine Electric in Brewton; and on May 22nd at Daphne City Hall during Older Americans Month. The appreciation events honored the approximately 200 volunteers who volunteer in Baldwin and Escambia counties. Pictured are the Tax Counseling for the Elderly volunteers in Escambia County. TCE volunteers helped local citizens obtain thousands of dollars in refunds and credits and avoid tax preparer fees. This program has only been offered in Baldwin County for two years and for the 2018 tax season, Baldwin County residents saved $10,000 in fees, and received $400,000 in refunds and credits.

Senior Fraud and Scams Workshop

On May 21 st  the Area Agency on Aging partnered with the City of Daphne and the Alabama Securities Commission to present a workshop on Senior Fraud and Scams at the Daphne City Hall.  Pictured is Julie McGee, Area Agency on Aging Director, making opening remarks to the over 100 older adults in attendance to this well received and informative workshop.

Older American Month

May is Older American Month, declared by the President and Governor Ivy, denoting the this year's them, "Connect, Create, Contribute."  Pictured are the Mobile County celebration held May 15th  at the beautiful Municipal Park facility on Citronelle Lake; and the Baldwin County celebration at the Coliseum in Robertsdale on May 9th.

Mobile County Senior Picnic was held on May 15 th  at the Citronelle Community Center with over 370 seniors in attendance.

Della Morris, Dumas Wesley SAIL Center Manager, was recognized for her many years of dedicated service to the senior citizens of our community. Ms. Morris will retire at the end of May, 2019.

Baldwin County Senior Picnic was held on May 9 th at the Baldwin County Coliseum in Robertsdale, AL with over 200 seniors in attendance. 

The Baldwin County Council on Aging honored, Pat Dunbar, as the 2019 Volunteer of the Year. Pat volunteers her time at the Loxley SAIL Center.

Silver Haired Legislature

Masters Games of Alabama

The local Masters Games have begun!  Pictured are local participants competing in billiards, basketball throw and nerf ball throw at the local games at the VIA Center in Mobile on April 25th .  Games are held throughout the summer. 

The Masters Games ofAlabama were organized in 1989 to expand services offered for senior adults in the State of Alabama. The purpose of the games is to involve senior adults, age 50 and older, in recreational activity and a worthwhile fitness program.
Any resident of Mobile, Baldwin and Escambia Counties, age 50 and older is eligible to participate in the local games. The local game include Billiards, Bowling, Basketball Free Throw, Horseshoes, Rook, Dominoes, Double Dominoes and other events and will continue until July 10, 2019.

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