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

My association with SARPC spans 40 years as Board Member and as employee but never have we experienced anything like COVID-19. NEVER!!!! I hope and pray that as we attempt to resume to more normal routines that a cure and vaccine will be found for this deadly virus. Thusly, I remain so proud of each SARPC employee who has gone above the call of duty to serve the needs of our Region. Please stay safe!!!

John F. "Rickey" Rhodes

Executive Director
South Alabama Regional Planning Commission
Post Office Box 1665
Mobile, AL 36633                                                                   
Business Line: (251) 433-6541
Direct: (251) 706-4667
Cell: (251) 421-9400
Fax: (251) 433-6009

In  Memory Of Our Fallen Heroes

Mobile MPO Updates

The Mobile Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) met virtually using GOTO Meeting on Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020. This was the first time a Mobile MPO meeting was conducted in this manner, and was executed without any problems. There were test meetings to make sure our MPO members were familiar with the technology. It ended up being a largely attended meeting that included the press, and members of the public attending online. Items on the agenda included the adoption of the Long Range Transportation Plan. The Plan is required to be adopted every 5 years, and the deadline was March of 2020 for this plan. The March 25th meeting was postponed until the April 22 meeting due to the COVID -19 virus.    

For more LRTP information Click Here.

RPO Updates

HSCTP Public Meeting Postponed

In consideration of health concerns of participants regarding COVID-19, the South Alabama Regional Planning Commission will postpone the Human Services Coordinated Transportation Plan Public Meeting that was scheduled for Wednesday, March 18th at the GM&O Building. The meeting will be rescheduled at a later date. We welcome your comments and questions regarding the plan. If you wish, you may contact us via email at transportation@sarpc.org or by phone at (251) 433 6541.
As part of this effort we are surveying transit providers, riders, and other stakeholders in our region. Please take a moment to answer the following questions and email them back to us.
Your participation is greatly appreciated.
Name of your Organization:
Does your organization operate a transit vehicle? If so,
How many vehicles?
How many seats per vehicle?
What is/are the funding sources for your vehicle(s)?
What is your service area?
Do you use or need transit services to get around? If so, which one(s)?
What unmet needs are there in your area?
Things like later hours, rural areas where transit service is needed but isn't available, etc.?
Do you have any suggestions as to how these needs could be met?
Will you be applying for 5310 funding? If so, what will you be applying for?

Mobile Area Transit System Feasibility Study

SARPC staff is continuing to meet (virtually) with Via, and Goodwyn, Mills, and Cawood, for the feasibility study. The current health crisis has affected the potential outcome of the study. The intent of the study was to find potential local sponsors to match federal funds to create a transit system to operate throughout Mobile County to connect with WAVE Transit. The sponsors would have provided assistance through subscriptions or contracts for commuter trips. The current price of gasoline, and the threat of contracting virus on buses, may put a strain on ridership of a new system. However, there are still people in need of transportation, and there is some thought that regardless of the price of gasoline, there will be an increased number of distressed people due to the economy, that will need transportation. This may be the perfect time to consider transportation throughout Mobile County.
Please review the Tasks 1, 2 and 3 that are underway HERE.

Transportation Improvement Program( TIP)

The TIP represents a four year program (2020-2023) 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.
2020-2023 E-TIP HERE

Funding & Resource Announcements

Access to Capital, Business Assistance and Entrepreneurship

IRS Extends OZ 180-Day Investment Deadline Until July 15 Due

The Internal Revenue Service has extended the 180-day deadline to invest capital gains in qualified opportunity funds to July 15 for taxpayers whose deadline falls between April 1 and July 15, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Notice 2020-23 permits taxpayers with deadlines that fall in that period to automatically postpone their investment deadline. The relief is automatic.

SBA Lending Programs Authorized in CARES Act
SBA has been actively updating and issuing guidance for accessing the lending programs authorized under the CARES Act. On May 4, SBA issued an update to announce that Agriculture Businesses are now eligible for SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance programs and that SBA will begin accepting new EIDL applications on a limited basis only, in order to provide unprecedented relief to U.S. agricultural businesses . For agricultural businesses that submitted an EIDL loan application through the streamlined application portal prior to the legislative change, SBA will move forward and process these applications without the need for re-applying. All other EIDL loan applications that were submitted before the portal stopped accepting new applications on April 15 will be processed on a first-in, first-out basis.
See these links for full announcement and the latest on SBA's disaster assistance programs:
Visit SBA webpage for additional guidance and resources for businesses and nonprofits.

Federal Reserve Increase in Mainstreet Loan Program

The Federal Reserve announced additional actions to provide up to $2.3 trillion in loans to support the economy, including the purchase of up to $600 billion in loans through the Main Street Lending Program. The Main Street Lending Program will enhance support for small and mid-sized businesses that were in good financial standing before the crisis by offering 4-year loans to companies employing up to 10,000 workers or with revenues of less than $2.5 billion. Principal and interest payments will be deferred for one year. Businesses apply for these loans through participating banks.

HUD Guidance for Supplemental 2020 CDBG Allocations for COVID-19

The CARES Act provided additional funding for HUD Community Development Programs, including increases to 2020 CDBG allocations for states and entitlement area recipients. Funds can be used for a range of eligible activities including construction of facilities, business assistance, workforce training, and planning and capacity building. HUD has already issued a first tranche of allocations to States and Entitlement Communities. A second and third tranche of funds will follow. The following links provide more information, including a summary of eligible activities that may be funded:
For more info, visit: HERE


Apply by May 31 . DRA States' Economic Development Assistance Program

The Delta Regional Authority (DRA) is opening the 2020 application cycle for the States' Economic Development Assistance Program (SEDAP).  SEDAP, which provides direct investments into community-based and regional projects that address the DRA's congressionally mandated four funding priorities, is the main investment tool used by the DRA.  The deadline to submit applications is May 31, 2020, and funds are available to DRA's footprint of 252 counties and parishes in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. All necessary information for application consideration can be found in the  2020 SEDAP Manual . Organizations and communities can apply online at  funding.dra.gov

EPA Grants to Support Environmental Justice in Pandemic Response

EPA is making $1 million in grant funding available to states, local governments, tribes, and territories for projects to improve the health and welfare of low income, minority, tribal and indigenous communities. EPA will give special consideration to those applications aimed at addressing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic communities with EJ concerns. The State Environmental Justice (SEJCA) Cooperative Agreement Program will provide funds to eligible states, local governments, tribes and territories. EPA anticipates issuing 5 grants of approximately $200,000 each for a two-year funding period. Application Due Date: Tuesday June 30, 2020 by 11:59 PM Eastern Time . See additional details at:
Informational Pre-Application Assistance Calls: Potential applicants are invited to participate in conference calls with EPA to address questions about the SEJCA Program and this solicitation. Following are the Dates and Times (Eastern Time) for upcoming calls:
For more information, including dial-in information, please visit the FY2020 SEJCA webpage .

May/June Deadlines: USDA Priority for Projects Supporting Regional Plans.

Through the Strategic Economic and Community Development (SECD) authority in the 2018 Farm Bill, USDA has set aside a portion of funding in four programs, for rural projects that support regional economic and community development planning, such as CEDS. The four programs are:

(1)   Community Facilities Loans, Grants and Loan Guarantees
(2)   Water and Waste Disposal Program Loans, Grants and Loan Guarantees
(3)   Business & Industry Program Loan Guarantees
(4)   Rural Business Development Grants
To apply for the funding, applicants must apply by the due date for the specific program or June 30, whichever is FIRST. Applicants also must meet all other underlying program requirements and submit  Application Form  (Form RD 1980-88) along with other application materials to their nearest USDA office. Consideration for regional development priority will be based on:
  • How well the project supports a multi-jurisdictional plan, and
For more information on how this SECD prioritization works, please contact your local  USDA Rural Development office or Gregory Batson at  Gregory.Batson@usda.gov.
More details can also viewed at page 11947 of the Feb. 28, 2020, Federal Register:



RLFs for Water and Waste Water Infrastructure -USDA and EPA Programs

  • Revolving Funds for Financing Water and Wastewater Projects Program
    USDA Rural Development program a supports predevelopment costs for water or wastewater projects to finance short-term and small capital projects that are not part of regular operation and maintenance costs for water and wastewater systems. Application Deadline: June 12, 2020
  • EPA Funding for State Clean Water and Drinking Water System Loan Funds. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has made $2.7 billion available for State Revolving Funds that support water infrastructure. The SRF programs function like infrastructure banks by providing low-interest loans to eligible recipients.Assistance is provided directly from state agencies. Visit these EPA webpages: https://www.epa.gov/dwsrf and https://www.epa.gov/cwsrf.


NIST Manufacturing USA National Emergency Assistance Program

On March 30, 2020 NIST announced Funding Opportunity: 2020-NIST-MFGUSA-NEAP-01,  inviting applications from current Manufacturing USA institutes not receiving financial assistance under Section 1741(e) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 ((Pub. L. 116-92, December 20, 2019), to be codified at 15 U.S.C. § 278s(e)) at the time of proposal submission.
Projects should focus on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and may include projects to leverage institute capabilities to strengthen state and community resilience; grants to companies and technical support to accelerate productions of critical materials, equipment, and supplies; technology roadmapping for pandemic response and recovery; reshoring the manufacture of critical materials; or workforce development and training for a skilled advanced manufacturing workforce. See NOFO on Grants.gov for complete information: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=325811

Energy Department Announces Notice of Intent to Issue Funding to Enhance Manufacturing Competitiveness through Innovation

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced its intent to issue, on behalf of the Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO), a funding opportunity to stimulate technology innovation, improve the energy productivity of American manufacturing, and enable the manufacturing of cutting-edge products in the United States. Specifically, the funding opportunity seeks to invest in new industrial technologies, materials, and processes to create and sustain American leadership in advanced manufacturing.

The potential Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), entitled "FY20 Advanced Manufacturing Multi-topic FOA," will focus on three areas:

  1. Next-generation manufacturing processes that improve energy efficiency in energy-intensive and energy-dependent industries, including steel manufacturing.
  2. Modular, hybrid, and/or catalytic processes to improve energy efficiency in chemical manufacturing.
  3. Connected, flexible, and efficient manufacturing facilities, products and energy systems, including the integration of direct air capture at industrial facilities.  



DOL Workforce Opportunity Grants for Rural Communities (Round 2)

On April 30, U.S. Department of Labor, in partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the Delta Regional Authority (DRA), announced the availability of approximately $29.2 million in a second round of grant funding for the Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities (WORC) Initiative.  Under this FOA, the department's Employment and Training Administration (ETA) will award these grants to applicants that demonstrate innovative and sustainable strategies to provide needed career, training and support services to eligible individuals in the Appalachian and Delta regions.  
**Highlight for CEDS Alignment : ETA will award those applicants that align and integrate workforce development activities with existing state, regional, or community development strategies. Learn more about grant eligibility and how to apply .
ARC and DRA will provide technical assistance to prospective applicants in their respective regions, as well as provide assistance and support to grantees across the life of the initiative. Potential applicants are encouraged to visit www.arc.gov or www.dra.gov for more information, including dates and locations for pre-application technical assistance meetings.

Open Federal Funding Opportunities :

Below is a list of previously highlighted funding opportunities that are still open. Enter the Opportunity Number in Grants.gov to see announcement details. You can also search Grants.gov for a full list of current federal opportunities, including programs not listed below.
Opportunity Number
Opportunity Title
Posted Date
Close Date
FY 2020 EDA Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance Programs
FY 2019 EDA Disaster Supplemental
NIST Manufacturing USA National Emergency Assistance Program
HUD's FY2020 and FY2021 Distressed Cities TA Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA)
NIST MEP Disaster Assessment Program
Rural Community Development Initiative
Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) Ph II

Reports and Data for Economic Development

Census Releases Interactive Data HUB for COVID 19

U.S. Census Bureau released a new resource page on Census.gov to help federal agencies, businesses, and communities make decisions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Similar to the Census Bureau's resources pages created during natural disasters, this resource page includes information on population demographics, economic indicators and businesses.
It features a new interactive data hub that centralizes already-released data from the American Community Survey and the County Business Patterns program to facilitate users' access to data useful in pandemic-related decision making. The data hub, released as a beta version, will be updated periodically as the situation changes and as feedback is received from users.
The data hub also includes direct links to other Census Bureau data tools that provide additional information to guide decision-making, and also links to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data on COVID-19 case. Learn More at www.census.gov/coronavirus .

Federal Reserve Beige Book of Current Economic Conditions Released

Commonly known as the Beige Book, this report is published eight times per year. Each Federal Reserve Bank gathers anecdotal information on current economic conditions in its District through reports from Bank and Branch directors and interviews with key business contacts, economists, market experts, and other sources. The Beige Book summarizes this information by District and sector.

Census Bureau's Weekly Business Formation Statistics Data

The U.S. Census Bureau has begun releasing weekly business application data at the national and regional levels in addition to releasing the quarterly Business Formation Statistics (BFS ). The BFS, which was first released in February 2018, tracks trends in business applications and formations at the state, regional, and national levels. The weekly data provide timely and granular information on the state of the economy but appropriate caution is required in interpreting fluctuations since high-frequency weekly data are subject to variation from seasonal factors including holidays and beginning and end of calendar year effects. See also:
Following its initial publication on April 8, 2020, the weekly BFS series will be published each Thursday at noon EDT. The weekly data will be available for a limited time and we will assess the demand for these data on an ongoing basis.

Disaster Recovery Resources & Info

Where to Find Federal Disaster Declarations

  • 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 Economic Recovery:

Resources for COVID-19 Disaster Assistance:

The situation is rapidly changing, and new announcements are being issued frequently. Some of the following may be of particular interest to economic development stakeholders: 

· Official Site for Federal Resources

For the latest CDC guidance for individuals, businesses and communities see: cdc.gov/COVID19

For a current compilation of other federal resources visit: www.usa.gov/coronavirus. The following announcements are highlighted below for your convenience:

· Coronavirus Disease 2019 National Emergency Declaration

·       Department of Commerce Resources

The Department posts updated information about programs and assistance with Coronavirus impacts at https://www.commerce.gov/coronavirus . Highlights include:

o   NIST MEP Centers Received CARES Act Funding.

NIST MEP launched the application process for $50 million in grants to help manufacturers respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. NIST will issue awards to Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico for COVID-19-related projects.to https://www.nist.gov/news-events/news/2020/04/nist-mep-centers-receive-cares-act-funding-pandemic-response

o   NIST Manufacturing USA Offers Emergency Funding to Institutes

NIST opened a funding opportunity for rapid, high-impact projects that support the nation's response to the COVID-19 pandemic through the  NIST Manufacturing USA National Emergency Assistance Program . Funding will be awarded to eligible  Manufacturing USA® institutes,  with no requirements for cost matching.

o   NTIA Broadband USA Funding Guide -Updated.

NTIA updated the Federal funding section of the BroadbandUSA website with the FY20 programs and funding levels provided by agencies. See also accompanying blog .

·USDA Guide to Federal Programs for Rural Communities Impacted by COVID-19 

USDA's The COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide (PDF, 349 KB), a first-of-its-kind resource for rural leaders looking for federal funding and partnership opportunities to help address this pandemic. USDA has taken many immediate actions to assist farmers, ranchers, producers, rural communities, and rural-based businesses and organizations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information on these actions, visit  www.usda.gov/coronavirus

·USDA Program Flexibilities to Help Rural Businesses and Communities

On March 25, USDA Rural Development announced a number of immediate actions taken to help rural residents, businesses and communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Read the full announcement.

·Extended FCC Lifeline and Broadband Services:

A number of the major broadband providers announced that they will be extending their commitments under the Keep Americans Connected Pledge until June 30 th in order to support American households and businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak. The pledge previously included a 60 day commitment.  Additionally, several deadlines for the Lifeline Program have been extended. The Commission, also, recently adopted an R&O opening up the 6GHz band for unlicensed use. For more information on the FCC's COVID-19 efforts, visit its Keeping Americans Connected page.

Assistance for Natural Disasters:

EDA FY19 Disaster Supplemental Funding Available for Areas Impacted by 2018/19 Natural Disasters

EDA's Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) Disaster Supplemental Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), made available $587 million for eligible grantees in communities impacted by Presidentially declared natural disasters in 2018, and by floods and tornadoes in 2019. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until funds are exhausted. View Opportunity Number EDA-2019-DISASTER on Grants.gov, and contact your EDA Regional Office representative for eligibility information and application assistance.


Mature Staffing Service

Every aspect of our lives has been impacted by COVID-19 and the Employment and Economic Development Services is no different. The Annual Business Expo & Job Fair set for May 7 at The Grounds was canceled for the first time in 23 years. SARPC is focused on the health and security of the community and its own staff. Therefore, before the decision was made to cancel the event we sought the advice of economic developers and health officials. The advice was clear, "cancel the event" for this year. This has proven to be the right thing to do especially since things still remain fluid with the gradual "reopening".  
The additional impact on this department was the temporary layoff of many staffers employed by the Mature Staffing Service (MSS). However, there have been increasing need for our services in certain industries. We anticipate our services will be available as the demand increases. MSS is currently working with employers in need of personnel and continue to reach out to serve the SARPC region with staffing and payroll assistance.
Senior Community Service Employment Program

The impact COVID-19 on the Senior Community Service Employment Program has been seen in the fact participants elected to use the Emergency Sick Leave status which provides their continued receipt of the stipend during this time until the government lifts all stay-at-home orders. The host agencies have been very understanding and protective in preparing their workplaces for the return of the participants to their assignments.
Revolving Loan Fund

Additionally, the Revolving Loan Fund staff has continued to review, discuss, and process loan requests as they are submitted during this COVID-19 pandemic.
In Summary

It is our privilege and desire to serve our region through these programs. Allow us to assist you with your staffing, payroll, or small business loan needs by calling 652-0585.


Fairhope Volunteer Fair

The Fairhope Volunteer Fair is always a terrific place to meet those from our area. This year, the Comfort Sowers hit the jackpot when we metDawne Biggs from SARPC's  South Alabama  RSVP program.  In early March, we had no idea how valuable it would be to partner with the Area Agency on Aging, Dawne, and the RSVP volunteers.  Jointly, we have made over 2,000 fabrics masks which have been given to folks of all ages.  They've been given to the Senior SAIL Nutrition Centers so they could offer hot "meals to go" and deliver to the homebound, hospitals, first responders, doctors' offices, nursing homes, cancer patients, Native Americans and many other vulnerable and/or essential individuals.  Thank you so much, Dawne and the Area Agency on Aging for making our new relationship so productive and a true godsend to the community.   - Jane Cox, Comfort Sowers"

Senior Meals Continuing To Be Delivered

SARPC's hometown heros have never stopped getting meals out to our seniors during the pandemic. Pictured are senior centers getting ready for meal service the next day and getting meals out for hot "to go" meals and hot home delivered meals.

Area Agency on Aging Partnerships Provides over 1.000  boxes of fresh food to the community weekly

The Area Agency on Aging has partnered with Prodisee Pantry, serving Baldwin County, and the Food Pantry @ Central (Central Presbyterian Church) in Mobile to provide 1,125 boxes and of fresh food to senior citizens, the disabled, and families weekly to help our community stay strong during the current pandemic.  This program is funded through the USDA's Farm to Family initiative and food is being distributed by the aging networks' food contractor, GA Foods, and each box provides 21 pounds of fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, milk, cheese, butter, and precooked chicken.  The first deliveries will occur June 1st.  The Area Agency on Aging will provide our Directory of Senior Resources and other information valuable to older adults a,d persons with disabilities in conjunction with the food distribution.  For more information, contact Julie McGee, Area Agency on Aging Director, 251-706-4623 or jmcgee@sarpc.org.

Happy Older American's Month

Call for Nominations Alabama Senior Citizens Hall of Fame
The Alabama Senior Citizens Hall of Fame has honored, and recognized Alabamians aged 60 or older for their outstanding contribution to the lives of older members in their local communities since 1983. Community leaders and members of the public are asked to submit nominations in various categories. Those selected are formally honored and recognized for their selfless advocacy and dedication of service to others at an official ceremony held in Montgomery each year. Submissions are still being accepted for the following categories until June 5, 2020.
The Alabama Senior Citizens Hall of Fame recognizes Alabama seniors who are 100 years or older and couples married 65 years or more at the official Ceremony.
The nomination form can  be completed online HERE. PLEASE SUBMIT ALL NOMINATION FORMS TO: Hall of Fame Coordinator (Kathie Blaze) Alabama Department of Senior Services 201 Monroe Street, Suite 350 Montgomery, Alabama 36104 Fax: (334) 242-5594 Questions? CALL (334) 353-0389 or (877) 425-224

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