BRISTOL – Community members with the Bristol City American Rescue Plan Task Force met in City Hall Wednesday to assign members to subcommittees, make a motion to approach a consulting entity in the distributions of federal funds and to discuss information dissemination routes to inform the public and businesses of how funds can be spent and how to apply for them.
Bristol has received around $28 million as part of federal funding efforts under U.S. President Joe Biden with the aims of improving American infrastructure and economic health in response to the covid-19 pandemic.
“As you can see, there’s a lot of interest in this money and the opportunity to make some very important changes and improvements to the community,” said Bristol Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu after listing entities that had already sent communications expressing interest in funding projects. “Another task force member... had also brought up a point about how we’re going to actually communicate to the public to make sure that everybody is aware that the money is going to be potentially available so that we don’t have any missed opportunities.”
Committee members were divided into three groups: nonprofit support, business recovery and economic development and, lastly, city needs.
Bristol Economic and Community Development Office Director Justin Malley discussed creation of a mock document that could potentially be utilized by area businesses and nonprofit organizations with which to apply for funding.
Bristol Board of Finance Chair John Smith made a motion that was seconded by economic and community development commission member Mickey Goldwasswer, both task force members, for the task force to approach a consulting entity or company in potentially overseeing the legal process to distribute the funding.
“If you engage with a firm,” said Malley,” oftentimes with some of our projects...you’re going to get different individuals with certain expertise within the firm because they’re a lot of moving parts here. Without a doubt, the financial and reporting pieces are incredibly important. We’re going to need assistance on all sorts of levels; the applications, being able to talk with businesses about what’s eligible and what’s not and that’s a big part of it.”
United Way of West Central Connecticut President Donna Osuch suggested that a survey be potentially distributed to the public about what it would like to see done with the money. Committee members suggested making use of local gas station announcement advertisements. Social media was discussed as a communication route with the public as well as public meetings, use of the Bristol Press and more.