ECICOG Seeks Public’s Input on Federally Funded Transportation Projects
ECICOG is seeking input from the public about transportation projects that receive federal funding. These projects are included in the draft Region 10 Regional Affiliation (RPA)’s draft FY 2022 – 2025 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). The TIP is a four-year planning document that:
Calling All Residential Contractors
ECICOG is continuously seeking out residential contractors to support our housing work! Our needs will vary based on current projects, but will usually include replacement windows, roofing, doors, and siding.
Contact Housing Specialist Mark Culver at email@example.com or 319-289-0061 for more details.
PATCH Program Receives $1.1 Million in Donations
In late 2020, the Housing Fund for Linn County (HFfLC) and ECICOG announced a program called Providing Assistance to Community Homeowners (PATCH), partnering with a number of area non-profits to help low to moderate income homeowners with repairs after the August derecho. In April, United Way of East Central Iowa (UWECI) the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation (GCRCF) more than quintupled the PATCH funding. $1.17 million went to the PATCH program and $280,000 went to an emergency relief program run by PATCH partner Matthew 25. Both awareness and application rates have also increased thanks to this KCRG coverage. To date, ECICOG has approved 23 applicants and is working with an additional 26.
HFfLC, ECICOG, Matthew 25, UWEIC, GCRCF, Neighborhood Finance Corporation, and the other PATCH partners are excited to continue offering support for those in our region still suffering effects of the derecho.
Visit our website for more information or contact Housing Coordinator Nicole Wise at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ECICOG Helps Secure EDA Grant for Ed Tech Collaborative
Last month, the Iowa City Area Development Group (ICAD) received a grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) with grant-writing assistance from ECICOG. The $393,000 grant will be used to promote the growth of Ed Tech companies in Iowa, manage an accelerator program for Ed Tech start-ups, and identify new market opportunities. With the presence of national companies such as ACT and a number of newer start-ups, the East Central Iowa region is in a unique position to capitalize on the heightened interest in online learning and other education technologies due to COVID-19.
To learn more about economic development grant opportunities, contact Economic Development Specialist Adam Bentley at email@example.com.
Hydrostation Provides Real-Time Data to the Clear Creek Watershed Community
The Clear Creek Watershed Coalition recently celebrated the installation of an Iowa Watershed Approach (IWA) hydrostation in the region. One of 20 statewide, the station measures rainfall, wind speed and direction, and soil moisture and temperature. This real-time data gives local farmers greater ability to plan their planting and field applications around changing weather conditions. Senator Ernst attended the event, praising the IWA and its conservation efforts throughout the state. ECICOG assisted local governments to form the Clear Creek Watershed Coalition, completed their watershed management plan last year, and provides grant administration for the Iowa Watershed Approach in the Clear Creek watershed.
Read more about the hydrostation on the IWA website or contact Environmental Services Director Jennifer Fencl at Jennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on ECICOG’s work with the region’s watersheds.
ECICOG Provides Technical Support to Help Reconstruct Atkins Fire Station
ECICOG can be a valuable resource when smaller communities find they lack the capacity or technical expertise to tackle important projects. That was the case for the City of Atkins as they began to contemplate the reconstruction of their fire station, which was irreparably damaged in the August 10, 2020 derecho. To assist with the effort, ECICOG staff worked with city leaders to develop a request for proposals for architectural services. ECICOG staff are currently facilitating the evaluation of those responses by local officials. Since the reconstruction effort may be partially eligible for funding through FEMA’s disaster-related Public Assistance (PA) program, ECICOG staff are making sure that applicable federal grant requirements are being followed throughout the project. ECICOG is also helping the City apply for Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funds for related projects, such as a tornado-safe structure and warning siren.
Contact Community Development Specialist Tom Gruis at email@example.com for more information about the technical support ECICOG can provide to communities.
Johnson County Receives Grant to Remove Three Flood-Prone Properties
Johnson County was awarded grant funding to purchase three repetitive loss properties in partnership with Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management and FEMA through the Hazard Mitigation Assistance Program. These properties repeatedly suffer from flooding due to their location in the Iowa River floodway. By purchasing and removing them, Johnson County will prevent costly repairs and ease emergency evacuation and rescue requirements. ECICOG wrote the County’s application and is administering the grant. From appraisal to removal, ECICOG will work with homeowners while managing services, contracts, proposals, and grant timelines. The project is expected to be completed by December 31, 2023.
For more information about ECICOG’s work with flood property acquisition programs, contact Environmental Planner Alicia Presto at Alicia.firstname.lastname@example.org.
American Rescue Plan Presents Unique Opportunity for Cities
On Monday May 10, the U.S. Department of Treasury released guidance on the State and Local Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Fund (Recovery Fund), as part of the American Rescue Plan Act. Funds must be used by December 31, 2024 and only certain types of expenses are allowed. Cities are encouraged to visit the Iowa League of Cities' ARP resource page for links to the most recent information. ECICOG staff are available for facilitation or planning assistance as communities begin to contemplate the use of these funds.
Contact Economic Development Specialist Adam Bentley at email@example.com for more information.
CDBG Programs Announced
The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) recently announced details for three Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) programs. The Homebuyer Assistance and Owner-Occupied Rehabilitation grant applications are being reviewed as they are submitted, and funding is expected to be allocated quickly. Swift action will be highly beneficial.
For more information about the programs, download this fact sheet, visit the IEDA website, or contact ECICOG Housing Director Tracey Achenbach at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our housing experts discussed details like this and answer participant questions during a webinar on June 3. View the webinar recording here!
Recreational Trails Programs
State due July 1
Federal Due October 1
Both the state and federal trail programs provide funds for recreational trails and trail-related projects. The funding can be used for the acquisition, construction or improvement of recreational trails open for public use. At the time of this writing, the Iowa legislature has not officially approved funding for this program. Applications are being accepted with the presumption that it will be approved soon. Visit the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) website for more information.
State Workforce Housing Tax Credit Program
Due July 19
This program provides tax benefits to developers to provide housing in Iowa communities. The priority will be for projects using abandoned, empty, or dilapidated properties or creating new housing in greenfield areas demonstrating a shortage of housing and in smaller cities. There is a total of $25 million available, with $15 million set aside for small cities. In our region, Benton, Iowa, Jones, and Washington Counties are eligible for the set-aside.
Visit the Iowa EDA website for eligible project types and program requirements. Community Development & Housing Director Tracey Achenbach is available for questions at email@example.com.
CDBG Water/Sewer Grant
This competitive program offers grants to assist cities and counties with water and sewer infrastructure improvements including sanitary sewer system improvements, water system improvements, water and wastewater treatment facilities, storm sewer projects related to sanitary sewer system improvements and rural water connections. Winter applications are due July 1. Learn more here.
Contact Environmental Specialist John Bruce at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
Community Heart & Soul Seed Grant
Community Heart & Soul announced a new funding opportunity for small cities and towns nationwide. The Community Heart & Soul Seed Grant Program provides startup funding of $10,000 for resident-driven groups in communities of 2,500 to 30,000 to implement the Community Heart & Soul model. The model engages the entire population of a town to identify what they love most about their community, what future they want for it, and how to achieve it.
For more information and to apply, visit the Community Heart & Soul Seed Grant Program website.
Restore Your Community's Tree Canopy
Does your community need help with tree replanting efforts following the Derecho? Community Disaster Recovery Coordinator Nick McGrath is working on behalf of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Trees Forever to help Iowa communities with their tree recovery. Nick’s services include identifying funding opportunities, assisting with tree health assessments, securing trees and coordinating volunteers.
Community representatives are strongly encouraged to complete the Community Derecho Recovery Needs survey, which will provide baseline information the Iowa DNR and Trees Forever can use to offer the best support to each community and help assess needs moving forward.
Contact Nick McGrath at (515) 291-6555 or email@example.com for more information.
2020 Annual Report
While 2020 dealt some unexpected challenges in the form of a pandemic and unprecedented windstorm, the ECICOG team remained steadfast in our commitment to serving our region and local communities.
Our 2020 annual report highlights some of ECICOG's work during the last year. Click here to download it!
Regional Vision Scorecard
Check out how our region compares to similar communities across the country! View the scorecard here.