ALTOONA, Pa (WTAJ)– The Altoona City Council continues to plan out their use of the $39.2 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act. At Monday’s meeting, the council initiated the proposal of two programs set to help maintain business within the city.

One program proposed is the Revolving Loan Program which will allow businesses to receive loans for specific projects. Council took some time in the meeting to start putting forth some rules and guidelines. This program is set to account for roughly $5 million.

Vice Mayor of Altoona City Council, Jesse Ickes, said that this program is proposed to be under a 20-year borrowing period. That, in turn, could impact future generations positively.

“We could use those dollars not only to spur economic development now but also with the repayment being back to the loan program. We can continue this for future generations to come,” Ickes said.

Some guidelines proposed in this program are a one-for-one match, meaning that both parties pay the same amount. Then, placing a $500,000 borrowing cap for projects.

“We’re trying to review the initial rules outlining that program in connection with the development cooperation administering those dollars,” Ickes said. “But essentially, it would be up to $500,000 for certain projects, couldn’t borrow more than 50% of the project. To my understanding, one for one match.”

The second program proposed is a $3 million grant program geared towards small businesses. It would allow funds for any small business to relocate within the city. Council noted that this program would be not limited to the downtown business area.

“It certainly be an effort to retract and retain businesses within our community, which has been a challenge over the last several decades,” Ickes said.

Both of these programs are meant to provide economic development in the city. However, these are only proposals, and nothing is set in stone.

“Well, a lot of which is trying to ham out the rules we were initiating tonight,” Ickes said. “None of that is a guarantee. Those still could be subject to change.”

The council will continue to discuss American Rescue Plan funds during each work session. There is no specific timeline to when these programs will have full guidelines. ARPA funds must be spent by 2024.

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