City Plan For Federal Recovery Money Includes Convention Center Fund

By Cece Nunn, posted Jun 15, 2021
The Wilmington Convention Center has experienced revenue losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. (File photo)
A Wilmington Convention Center fund could be one of the recipients of federal money allocated to the city as part of the American Rescue Plan Act, according to the Wilmington City Council’s agenda for tonight’s meeting.

In total, the city is receiving nearly $26 million from the COVID-19 economic recovery legislation; almost $13 million hit the city’s bank account June 1, and the second payment of an equal amount is expected to come in May next year.

An ordinance up for consideration during the meeting, which starts at 6:30 tonight at the convention center, appropriates $7.3 million to the convention center fund and $300,000 to the city’s parking facilities fund.

Recommendations for the ARPA money include covering expenses related to the city’s calculated revenue loss for the convention center and parking fund, the ARPA agenda document states.

“The city established a working committee of nine executive staff members that brought a funding plan recommendation to City Council that meets the allowable uses established by the Act to respond to the public health emergency and its negative economic impacts,” according to the document.

Other recommendation areas for the funding described in the document are: 
  • Economic and Community Assistance – to include assistance to small business and entrepreneurial opportunities, tourism, housing, nonprofit, substance abuse and mental health aid;
  • City and Community Infrastructure – to include facility improvements for health and safety, stormwater improvements and technology upgrades assisting with the digital divide; and
  • City Response and Recovery (in addition to the convention center and parking fund) – to include continued response to the pandemic through cleaning services, PPE, sick leave for positive employees, premium pay for frontline essential employees, administration and funding in reserve for other council and community priorities that may arise in the near future.
The money has to be obligated by Dec. 31, 2024, and all projects completed by December 2026, according to the agenda document. 

“The U.S. Treasury is taking comments on the interim guidance through July 16, 2021 and
further guidance on allowable uses will be released following the comment period,” the document states. “The City staff will continue working with the recommended plan to establish the format in how these funds will be delivered to provide assistance within the community.”

Efforts to reach a city official for more details on the convention center appropriation were not immediately successful Tuesday.

More events have been returning to the facility and more are expected to be booked after state rules limiting gatherings and other pandemic precautions were lifted.
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