Strafford County gets federal money for economic push amid pandemicSeptember 23, 2020
ROCHESTER - The federal government has allocated $379,131 in COVID-19 relief funds to create a new economic recovery coordinator position to assist Strafford County municipalities and businesses.
The Strafford Regional Planning Commission position is designed to provide new resources and strategic planning assistance to the region, both to help with the impacts of the pandemic as well as with the communities' other development challenges.
In announcing their application for the funding last month, SRPC officials said there is a "tremendous need" for such assistance.
"We as a regional planning commission provide resources and technical support to municipalities," SRPC Executive Director Jen Czysz, whose commission serves all of Strafford County, plus outlying towns like Nottingham, Northwood, Wakefield and Brookfield. "What we have for resources is very limited in what we can do. For responding in this nature, the resources don't exist. It would be huge just to have a dedicated person for this reason. I think about all the smaller communities that don’t have an economic development staff. This will give them a person who can serve as a point person and help their businesses."
The funding is a two-year, U.S. Economic Development Administration-administered grant. The EDA awarded the grant using federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding.
"We need to ensure Granite State businesses and communities get the support and resources they need to recover from the devastating economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," said U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. Shaheen, of Dover, is the lead Democrat of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations subcommittee, which provides funding for the EDA. "By allowing the Strafford Regional Planning Commission to hire an economic recovery coordinator, this federal funding will support economic revitalization efforts in Strafford Country and help local businesses and communities continue their recovery from this crisis."
The new SRPC position will act like a liaison between local businesses and local, state and federal partners, Czysz said last month. The goal, she said, will be to guide solutions to help the region recover from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and kick local revitalization efforts into overdrive.
Robin Comstock, economic development manager for the city of Somersworth, praised the new position last month. She said she believes it would go a long way in enhancing a town’s individual revitalization efforts as well as their attempts to collaboratively tackle pressing regional issues with other communities.
"I think this person will have a great lens on it and may even be pointing us as economic development managers and municipalities toward how we can negotiate our path through the deep water, if you will," Comstock said. "I just keep having this picture that we’re in it and we’re doing the best we can. We’re in life preservers. This is a speedboat."
By: Kyle Stucker
Source: Foster's Daily Democrat
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