On Thursday, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones signed a bill that will direct millions of American Rescue Plan funds to businesses in north St. Louis.
Board Bill 82 channels $37 million of federal pandemic relief funds into grants for small business, nonprofits and community-enhancement projects within 11 commercial corridors and surrounding neighborhoods in north St. Louis city. An additional $2 million will go toward St. Louis’ Americans with Disabilities Act implementation plan to make neighborhoods more navigable for people with disabilities.
Jones signed Board Bill 82 at MC Appliances in north St. Louis.
“Decades of disinvestment have left neighborhoods like this behind, stripping communities of jobs, opportunities and resources,” Jones says. “This disinvestment pulls back our entire city and makes us less safe – north and south of Delmar.”
The $37 million will be managed by the city’s Community Development Administration and St. Louis Development Corporation. The nonprofits’ executive director, Neal Richardson, says his organization will execute an agreement with the CDA to transfer the $37 million allocation to the SLDC within the next seven days. Applications will open June 1.
U.S. Representative Cori Bush (D-Mo.) attended Thursday’s bill signing and reiterated what Mayor Jones stated in her State of the City Address last month — that these funds are just the first step toward reinvesting in north St. Louis.
This “is going to make a huge investment in North St. Louis, and we know it’s not enough,” Bush says. “Most importantly, my job in Washington, D.C., is to keep pushing for St. Louis, advancing legislation and securing dollars for this district so we can keep these investments rolling in.”
The Board of Aldermen endorsed Board Bill 82 with a unanimous vote last month after alderman and board president Lewis Reed, the bill’s sponsor, made changes to a previous version of the bill. The mayor line-item vetoed a similar version of the bill last summer after questioning whether the allocation followed federal guidelines for what APRA funds could be used for.
Reed sponsored both Board Bill 82 and its previous version. The board president did not attend Thursday’s bill signing.
In her State of the City Address last month, Mayor Jones committed to invest $150 million in ARPA funds in north St. Louis before the money expires in 2026.
After the mayor’s speech, Reed’s office issued a statement that expressed a hope that history wouldn’t repeat itself and the mayor would not veto Board Bill 82.
“After more than 240 days, I’m glad to hear that the mayor has finally joined myself and other city leaders in her willingness to target ARPA funds in north St. Louis,” Reed said in the statement issued April 19. “Although her proposal lacks specifics and dollars, it’s good to hear Mayor Jones finally make a verbal commitment to giving the people of North St. Louis the help they so desperately need.”
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