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Gary Council appropriates ARPA funds for small businesses and nonprofits

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Small businesses and nonprofit organizations in Gary will be able to get some financial help. The city council Tuesday agreed to appropriate $2 million in federal American Rescue Plan money to support small businesses, plus another $800,000 for nonprofits.

Director of Community Development Arlene Colvin said it's designed to help organizations that were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. "This is a grant situation where the individual organization or business will apply for funds through an application. The applications will be reviewed by a committee, and the committee then will make recommendations or decide how funding should be distributed," Colvin told council members.

There has been some uncertainty about giving ARPA money to nonprofit organizations. Lake County allocated some of its own money that was freed up by ARPA funds to the operator of Faith Farms in Gary, only to rescind it, citing a conflict with state law.

But Colvin assured council members that helping nonprofits is an eligible use of the federal funds. "In the act itself, it specifically says you can provide assistance to nonprofits," she noted. "So unless there is something that I have not heard that relates to counties only, I'm not aware of that restriction."

In a statement, Mayor Jerome Prince thanked council members for approving the funding and said plans for the application process will be announced later this spring.