Stand up. Do you speak. It’s your turn.
The $ 43 million American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding allocated to the city of Manchester represents a unique and rare opportunity for the city to accelerate its short-term recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic while simultaneously possibly positioning the city in the long term – temporal prosperity. Recently, the Mayor and City Council took a positive first step in this process by approving a comprehensive plan to award the city’s first installment of ARP funding.
The comprehensive plan, based in part on input from community members and key stakeholders, addresses several key priorities, including affordable housing, community health initiatives, and helping the homeless, as well as helping small businesses affected by the pandemic. As business leaders looking to see Manchester recover more from the effects of the pandemic, we are encouraged that the proposed plan provides funding, both strategically and specifically, to key areas of opportunity and investment.
We are particularly encouraged that the plan will target funding to areas that will have economic value in both the short and long term. Examples include investments that create or support employment growth, stimulate economic activity and expansion, and strengthen the city’s ability to attract and retain a workforce. Some of the priorities that we have specifically highlighted to the Mayor’s Board and Aldermen and that we have been delighted to include in the proposed plan include:
Establishment of a new Manchester Economic Development Office – As the largest city in northern New England, investments in human and resource resources for economic development send an important and positive message about the city’s business climate and will support the recovery and growth of our post-pandemic economy.
Offer targeted small business grants to support pandemic recovery and resilience – The Small Business Resiliency Grant program offered by the city during the pandemic is a great success story, and replicating this program with ARP funding will continue to support small business recovery across the city. These grants can be used for future business planning and capacity building, or to recover investment in COVID-19 prevention and containment to provide critical support to businesses in an important phase of recovery and recovery.
Modernization of the brand / advertising strategy and support of the Manchester Boston regional airport – The airport is a major economic asset for the city and state, and a gateway for tens of thousands of visitors to support local businesses. Manchester can seize immediate opportunities to compete to develop post-pandemic air services by making smart investments to incentivize airlines to expand or introduce services in this market. Using ARP funds to support city-wide and airport-driven marketing and promotions to attract new or expanded flight service options is a wise investment as the expanded flight service brings millions of economic activities to the local economy.
Supporting workforce attraction and retention through incentives for the development of affordable and accessible housing – Companies, especially those in the hospitality industry, have difficulty hiring workers. Boosting the city’s workforce is an important opportunity to support both short-term economic recovery and long-term economic vitality. More accessible and affordable housing is an important strategy the city can pursue to increase its workforce.
Identify important infrastructure, mobility and placemaking projects from the long ones–Assortment planning documents that are eligible for ARP funding – ARP funds can provide a rare opportunity to advance projects that often take years to complete. As far as the funding guidelines allow, space design, mobility and infrastructure improvements such as sidewalks, Millyard / inner city accessibility, modern signage and improvements on the riverside are investments that are worth considering and that return an economic and livable value. The new city master plan and other community-sponsored planning documents contain a variety of potential ideas and projects that should be considered.
By taking a long-term, investment-oriented approach to delivering ARP funding, the City of Manchester can help ensure not only a rapid recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also realize strategic opportunities to improve the long-term economic vitality of the community and is achieved.
We thank the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen for advancing the proposed ARP fund allocation plan, and the Chamber and the business community encourage the Board to finalize this plan as soon as possible for these funds into the Action can be taken and help our community recover and our economy grow.
President and CEO
Greater Manchester Chamber
These business leaders signed a previously submitted letter of support to the Mayor’s Board of Directors and City Councilors to note their particular support for these recommendations:
- Nathan Saller, Bellwether Community Credit Union
- Arthur Sullivan, Brady Sullivan Properties
- Dick Anagnost, Anagnost Company
- Chris Norwood, NAI Norwood Group
- Mike Harrington, Harrington and Company
- Paul Mailhot, WEAPONS
- Mike Decelle, UNH Manchester
- Josh Wright, Wells Fargo
- Bill Brewster, Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare
- Liz Hitchcock, Orbit Group
- Cathy Schmidt, Mclane Middleton
- Ron Covey, St. Mary’s Bank
- Preston Hunter, Eckman Construction
- Pete Lachance, Altair Group
- Genella McDonald, Stibler Associates
- Alex Horton, Café La Reine
- Joe Raczka, York IE
- Trinnie Houghton, Sojourn Partners
- Kris McCracken, Amoskeag Health
- Donna Gamache, Eversource Energy
- Scott Spradling, The Spradling Group
- Keri Laman, Tidewater Catering
- Travis York, GYK antlers
- John Kacavas, Dartmouth Hitchcock-Health
- Matt Cookson, Cookson Communications
- Nick Soggu, Silvertech
- Jack Middleton, Mclane Middleton
- EJ Powers, Montagne Communications