LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer joined the Michigan Economic Development Corporation today to announce Michigan Strategic Fund approval of $83.8 million in grant funding across 22 statewide community development projects around Michigan through the Revitalization and Placemaking program. The MSF also approved support for a new multifamily project that will bring much-needed housing to the city of Portage.
Approved by the Michigan Strategic Fund to support MEDC’s strategic focus on innovative placemaking and continue to help communities recover from the impacts of COVID-19, the Revitalization and Placemaking (RAP) program utilizes $100 million in federal American Rescue Plan dollars to support investments in projects that promote population and tax revenue growth to proactively address negative economic impacts of COVID-19 in traditional downtowns, social zones and public spaces. Today’s announcement includes the allocation of $83.8 million in funds; the remaining awards will be announced at a later date.
“Today’s grants underscore our proactive investments in projects that promote population and tax revenue growth in our communities. These investments will help create vibrant places that attract and retain talent, add new housing options, enable business creation and attraction, and provide resources for Michigan citizens and communities,” Gov. Whitmer said. “By putting federal funds to work to address the impacts of COVID-19, we are making a real impact on our families, our communities, and our small businesses. I will work with anyone to keep getting things done and growing our economy.”
The RAP program is intended to spur investments that will address the inventory of vacant, underutilized office, commercial, and community spaces due to the pandemic by supporting efforts to repurpose them for the community to enjoy. Projects can also include the development of permanent place-based infrastructure associated with traditional downtowns, social-zones, outdoor dining and placed-based public spaces. Projects that include housing must include units that are priced to be attainable to the local workforce, including households with less than 120 percent of the area median income.
The program is designed to address a rise in vacancy rates throughout Michigan’s downtowns and commercial districts by supporting building conversions and renovations that will attract new users and build increased vitality. Additionally, the program is intended to invest in public space place-based infrastructure to help reverse the adverse economic impacts of the pandemic.
The program allows individual public space projects to apply for up to $1 million, individual real estate projects to apply for up to $5 million in support of their efforts to revitalize underutilized spaces, while local economic development or community development organizations and non-profits may also apply for up to $20 million to implement programs in support of their own local or regional revitalization strategies. Demand for the program exceeded available funding 5:1, highlighting the continued importance of placemaking in helping communities make a full economic recovery following the pandemic.
Today’s grants were allocated in three categories:
Public Space Place-Based RAP Awards – $9,058,627 awarded to 10 communities around Michigan for infrastructure improvements, public facility enhancements, affordable housing, downtown improvements, and more;
Real Estate Rehabilitation RAP Awards – $9,843,045 awarded to mixed-use development projects in Clare, Marquette, and Grand Blanc; Subgrant RAP Awards – $64,904,067 awarded to nine local economic development organizations/units of government for different community development projects around the state.
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