By Molly Bronner
FRAMINGHAM – Mayor Yvonne Spicer hosted a community Zoom hour Tuesday night with updates on the American Rescue Plan funds, the City of Framingham will receive. She was joined by Raúl González from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC).
The City of Framingham is set to receive about $28 million in American Rescue Fund dollars from the federal government.
An online survey regarding the American Rescue Plan Act funds began on April 28 and ran through July 30.
The survey’s main goal was to better understand how Framingham residents felt the $27.9 million in funds should be spent throughout the City.
Applying this funding in the most critical places throughout Framingham will allow for economic stability moving forward, the two presenters explained.
“You want to make sure that [in] the next great economic depression you are prepared,” MAPC senior planner González said.
The City of Framingham survey produced a total of 355 responses.
That means less than one-half percent of the City responded to the survey.
The issue of struggling businesses was what participants felt needed to be addressed the most,
receiving 17.29% of the vote.
This was followed closely by individual financial hardship, housing affordability, and food insecurity.
About 35% of respondents wanted to fund programs that dealt with residential financial assistance in order to solve their selected issue from the previous question. This was the most popular option.
The results of the survey will be taken into consideration, although further discussion is still
needed before making any final decisions, said Mayor Spicer.
“We have to be very mindful that we are implementing things that will probably be more difficult to sustain over the long haul,” Mayor Spicer said.
In an August 11 email to the 11-member City Council, Mayor Spicer said she wanted to use $6.1 million of the $27.9 million to address a shortfall in the water/sewer enterprise accounts.
Following the survey update, González, who is a senior planner for the Metropolitan Area
Planning Council, presented information on the Economic Development Administration (EDA).
The Administration works directly with communities in order to help prepare them for economic growth and success. They currently have 7 American Rescue Plan Programs in which they are investing a total of 3 billion dollars. The EDA has several ongoing grants in addition to accepting applications from different businesses.
For ARPA funding, they are specifically looking for larger organizations to apply. This money is
specifically for economic developments, and Congress has stated that it must be spent by 2027.
These funds are critical to the Framingham economy as the City emerges from the pandemic, he explained.
A large part of the damage to the economy resulted from the loss of jobs for citizens. The abundance of companies within the area helped slow this issue throughout the past year.
“We are fortunate that we have a variety of businesses,” said Mayor Spicer.
The lack of jobs still hit the City hard. Women, people of color, and other traditionally
underrepresented groups suffered the most. The EDA has made it a goal to address these
groups and further develop the workplace as a whole.
As the meeting came to a close, Spicer and González offered their final remarks.
“[It is great to be able to] provide all the help that is needed, particularly during this difficult
recovery, so that Framingham has the exceptional future that it better have, it has to have,
because it’s just such a great, great city,” González said.
Spicer agreed: “[It is about] looking for those opportunities to continue to grow our community in a way that it certainly deserves to grow.”
Molly Bronner is a 2021 SOURCE intern. She is a Framingham High student.