Feds award Region 10 $400K to help Main Street economies recover from COIVD hit; guard against future emergencies

A hefty federal grant will be leveraged to help economic recovery regionally — as well as to help the economy absorb “future shocks.”

Region 10 Economic League for Economic Assistance and Planning was awarded a $400,000 COVID-19 Recovery and Resiliency Project grant by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. The funding was authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief And Economic Security Act.

“We are a partner with the EDA on economic development. They, with COVID, had some additional funds to do specific pandemic recovery work within our region,” Region 10 Community Development Director Trish Thibodo said.

“This funding will provide for programming for the next two years to really work on making our communities and businesses more resilient and assist with recovery from COVID and strengthen the response to future pandemics and future shocks that come to our communities.”

Region 10 serves Montrose, Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Ouray and San Miguel counties. It provides services to small businesses, older adults and helps with regional development in its service areas. Its board of directors is composed of representatives from each county, cities within the region, and the private sector. Region 10 also partners with area economic development councils.

Main Streets throughout the region have been hammered by the restrictions brought about because of the declared pandemic over COVID-19. Thibodo says the money will be spent in accordance with the scope of work Region 10 developed for its application, and the entity will work closely with local governments to implement a comprehensive economic development strategy for recovery efforts.

“Where we see need is really focusing on our Main Streets and small businesses, making our Main Streets relevant and strong. Within our tourist-based economy, how do we strengthen their resiliency and ability to adapt? We’ll continue to really focus on the role of entrepreneurs in our recovery,” Thibodo said.

“This will be done in partnership and guided by the needs of the communities.”

The funding is for two years and will also be used to plan for future emergencies, not just pandemics, she said. The idea is to put good response systems in place that can be quickly implemented.

“Our goal is that our communities are coming out stronger across the board with this funding and that we’re (using) those systems and capacity,” Thibodo said.

Elsewhere in Colorado, the community of Stratton received a $150,000 COVID-19 Recovery and Resiliency Project grant.

“I am excited to see this important funding awarded to Montrose and Stratton from the Economic Development Administration to help bolster their local economies,” U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said, in a news release announcing the grant awards.

“COVID-19 has affected our entire state and we must continue working to stabilize our economy and ensure relief is reaching those in need.”

The EDA grants are typically for economic recovery planning in response to the novel coronavirus, pandemic planning, and building public works and facilities to support economic recovery, including the deployment of broadband in support of telehealth, Gardner’s news release says.

“We feel extremely fortunate to have the funds, because it is two years of funding and it allows us to really focus on the work that’s needed in the community, and to know that the fund is there,” Thibodo said.

Region 10 has also applied for other EDA funding, focused on broadband and business support.

“We’ll continue to seek funding for projects within the region,” Thibodo said.

COVID-19 has affected all counties in Region 10 in different ways, she added.

“We’re in the middle of this yet. This is an evolving process and that is the importance of having this coordination of ‘How do we develop, regionally, a response?’ We’re going to have to continue to adapt as we see things as we go into fall and winter, and next summer, too.

“We realize that none of us has the answer, but we can figure it out together.”


By: Katharhynn Heidelberg

Montrose Press