The Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority board has approved $200,000 in economic relief funding a month into state and local efforts to contain the coronavirus.
Board members unanimously approved the funding during a virtual meeting this morning.
“This is needed now more than ever,” said board member Greg McNeilly. “The economic damages from the current events are going to be pretty significant.”
Several members agreed more funding will likely be needed to provide relief to Grand Rapids businesses affected by widespread closures.
“My guess is there is a lot of need now, and you guys will blow through that money quickly,” said DDA board member Luis Avila.
Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. staff requested the funding. Potential expenditures include purchasing gift cards, marketing and advertising campaigns for businesses still operating, and expanding the agency’s website capacity to deploy fundraising. The proposal includes appointing a three-member committee to oversee the spending.
DGRI Executive Director Tim Kelly said the funding will be deployed until the next DDA meeting on May 13. Right now, purchasing spending is capped at $15,000, he added.
“The intent here is to be flexible,” Kelly said, adding that the agency may seek additional funding next month.
Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said she’s open to expanding the funding next month if needed. Additionally: “We should also be thinking about economic recovery. … We need to come together in a significant way to recover from this pandemic.”
DGRI officials also discussed fiscal year 2021 budget priorities during Wednesday’s meeting. Kelly said $1 million is set aside for COVID-19 recovery efforts, with the expectation of additional federal stimulus funds.
“The expectation is we’ll be much more active in that space as well,” Kelly said referring to the next fiscal year.