On Monday, July 12th, Governor Northam and state leaders announced their intention to aside over $350 million of the $4.3 billion that Virginia has received under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) to fund the Rebuild VA fund, community revitalization, and help the tourism and hospitality industries. The General Assembly will return for a Special Session on August 2nd to approve how the ARP funds should be allocated.
The proposal designates $250 million for the Rebuild VA economic recovery fund, which was launched in 2020 to provide grants to small businesses (less than 250 full time employees and $10 million annual gross revenue) hit hard by the pandemic and by restrictions the governor imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The grant program that Northam launched last year with $120 million in federal aid under the CARES Act and that the assembly bolstered this year with an additional $25 million in revenues from a tax on electronic skill games before a state law banning them took effect on July 1 has already assisted more than 3,000 small businesses and nonprofits.
Even so, the program has run out of money with about 9,000 applications pending from Virginia-based businesses that employ 250 or fewer people and have gross revenues of $10 million or less.
The governor also proposed to use $50 million to jump-start marketing by Virginia Tourism Corp. and “destination marketing organizations” — local and regional tourism offices — as they work to recover an estimated $14.5 billion in tourist and travel revenues lost during the nearly 16-month public health emergency.
Finally, the proposal includes $53 million for the Industrial Revitalization Fund, to help local governments prepare sites to attract economic development; and for the Virginia Main Street program, to encourage towns to increase their support of minority and immigrant communities, as well as businesses owned by women and minorities.