Many of our clients have told us just how overwhelming they find the entire federal funding process. This can be especially true for smaller communities that often lack experience with this process or lack the staff and resources necessary to prepare a competitive proposal. Some cities and counties may have successfully navigated the complicated application process in the past only to find out the project wasn't selected—not because it lacked merit, but because there wasn't enough funding to go around. For those communities that do have a proposal selected, the compliance and reporting requirements of these grants can be confusing. These frustrations have led many of our local communities to avoid the process altogether.
However, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) is expected to make it easier for local governments to receive the funding needed to modernize our public works system. In addition to the historic amount of money this law provides, it also includes special programs for rural, disadvantaged, and underserved areas. For communities that have historically struggled to obtain funding, this may be the opportunity they have been waiting for.
The Cost of Prioritization
Many communities have already begun preparing for these funding opportunities. This includes first conducting an infrastructure assessment to identify the repairs, improvements, and upgrades required to meet the current and future needs of the community. Even with the significant funding being made available, smaller cities and counties still won't have the personnel, time, or resources to compete for every grant that would be required to meet these needs. Another limiting factor is the need to meet local match and cost sharing requirements associated with most grants. While the IIJA provides for reduced (or potentially waived) cost share requirements in some cases, cost sharing can still have a significant financial impact and hinder a municipality's ability to pursue projects. These limitations mean that critical projects the community can’t complete without federal financial support need to be prioritized. As always, the cost of prioritizing the time, resources, and budget to pursue one project often means others need to be postponed. The cities that plan strategically will be in the best position to combat this cost and will be able to take full advantage this funding.
The Consequences of Confusion
The next step is to determine which grants to pursue and when. It is important to only pursue grants when the project is a good fit, and it aligns with the goals, current initiatives, and future plans of the community. One would think that, with more than 375 programs being funded by the IIJA, this shouldn't be a problem. Especially because the law includes funding for such a wide range of programs—from improving connectivity of our local roads and highways to improving broadband connectivity. However, despite recent guidance from the federal government, it can still feel overwhelming to wade through the hundreds of funding opportunities currently listed on Grants.gov in order to identify the ideal grant program. A potential consequence of this lack of clarity is the possibility of it preventing many smaller communities from being able to effectively capitalize on this rare opportunity. With the proper planning, preparation, and partnerships, our communities should be able to successfully compete for the funding needed to complete several critical projects while funding remains at these historic levels.
Combating the Costs and Consequences Through Planning, Preparation, and Partnerships
With the increased competition expected to accompany the increased funding, many local leaders are deciding to get outside help in preparing and applying for the upcoming grant opportunities—even if they have successfully completed the federal funding process in the past. Reaching out to potential stakeholders and consulting with professionals that are well-versed in this process can provide our communities with the experience and expertise they need to be successful—from easily identifying the proper funding opportunities to preparing a competitive proposal.
Our Municipal Services team understands the entire federal funding process, and our experts work closely with our clients to truly understand the needs and goals of each community they work with. They have decades of experience helping our clients plan strategically and complete the steps a municipality must take to demonstrate project readiness to give your project the best chance of being selected. They are also able to help our clients navigate complex federal regulations often attached to federal funding to help prevent this from being a deterrent. For communities that don’t have in-house resources to complete the necessary grant and proposal requests, our in-house funding expert will be a tremendous assist. Annalisa Noble is well versed in the art of grant writing and has considerable experience helping municipal clients prepare successful grant proposals. Our goal is put our clients in the best position possible so our communities get the funding they need.
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Put Our Expertise to Work for You
To put our expertise to work for you as you prepare for these upcoming funding opportunities, please contact Kasey Ketterling at email@example.com. We can help you conduct an infrastructure assessment, prioritize needs, prepare the necessary planning documents, and help you prepare your grant application.
Visit our Municipal Services page to learn more about the types of projects our Municipal Services team has completed throughout Idaho, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming and for more information about the services we provide to local municipalities throughout the intermountain west.