The Flint water crisis is transitioning into the disaster recovery stage, and over $1 billion in state and federal funding is about to pour into the city and Genesee County to aid economic recovery and provide finance for water infrastructure and long-term development projects.
For starters, the Small Business Administration has approved Gov. Rick Snyder’s request for low-interest disaster loans for businesses in Genesee County and the city of Flint.
The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans are working capital loans, that will now be made available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private, non-profit organizations that meet their ordinary and necessary financial obligations that cannot be met as a direct result of the disaster.
The Michigan Senate has additionally approved a $30 million dollar funding request for a proposal announced by Governor Rick Snyder to aid the city of Flint with credits (Consumption and Consumer Use Credit). If this $30 million is approved by the MI House, state funding for Flint’s water crisis for this Fiscal Year will total $67.3 million.
The Governor has also appointed Mike Finney, former executive director of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, to the City of Flint Receivership Transition Advisory board. Gov. Snyder said in a release that “I am confident that Mike, a Flint native, will work diligently with local leaders to ensure continued financial stability, which is especially imperative as we work to transition executive authority back to Mayor Weaver.”
But even this would be relatively small compared to proposed state and federal funding for Flint economic development projects, with most of it to be earmarked for fixing and replacing the city’s water infrastructure.
Legislation that has been introduced in the United States Congress by Congressman Dan Kildee and U.S. Senators for Michigan Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters provides up to $400 million in new federal emergency funding to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help replace or fix the City of Flint’s water supply infrastructure.
In a letter to President Obama requesting federal assistance, Governor Snyder had stated that the estimated cost of replacing the City of Flint’s water supply infrastructure is $767,419,500. The federal amendment therefore requires the State of Michigan to match dollar-for-dollar the $400 million in federal infrastructure funding that will be authorized through the bill.
Apart from this $800 million in state and federal funding, the new legislation establishes and funds a $200 million Center of Excellence on Lead Exposure in Flint to focus on the immediate and long-term needs of children and adults exposed to lead. It also gives the State of Michigan new flexibility to use funding to help forgive water infrastructure loans. The legislation is being pushed through Congress as an amendment to the Energy Policy and Modernization Act.
The federal legislation also includes $90 million in state and federal funding to support Flint economic development assistance programs and expanded youth employment opportunities.
This includes $12.5 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce for economic development assistance programs, and another $12.5 million for minority business development programs, to be matched with $25 million in state funding. The U.S. Department of Labor will provide another $20 million, to be matched by the state, for youth employment opportunities, workforce training, literacy and apprenticeship grants.
The bill also seeks to make critical investments in Flint schools, including establishing school-based health centers and infrastructure repairs to school buildings.