Over recent months, 1.3+ million dollars in COVID-19 relief funding has been awarded to Norton County businesses and organizations through three programs: the Norton Local SPARK Fund Program, the City of Norton Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program for business support, and the Norton County Community Development Block Grant Program for Covid Virus (CDBG-CV) business support program.
Norton Local SPARK funds of $418,367 were awarded to the Cities of Almena, Lenora, and Norton, and to Norton County for COVID remediation supplies and services. These funds also provided pandemic preparedness funds to the County’s tax-supported agencies such as Norton County Health Department, Norton County Emergency Preparedness, Norton County Sheriff’s Office, and City of Norton Police Department.
The Norton Local SPARK Fund Program also awarded 46 grants totaling $623,959 during October and November. The program, which was designed to help strengthen and revitalize our county economy, provided funding to assist businesses, nonprofits, healthcare organizations, and childcare agencies in mitigating COVID-19 impacts, i.e. re-opening expenses, revenue loss due to required closures, and items needed to strengthen operations.
“The county’s overall strategy for SPARK fund distribution was put together by multiple stakeholders from across different agencies,” explained Tara Vance, Executive Director of Norton County Community Foundation. “Then the actual administration of the grants was overseen by three specific organizations: Norton County Community Foundation oversaw the Nonprofit and Childcare support grants; Norton Area Chamber of Commerce oversaw the Business support grants; and Norton City/County Economic Development oversaw the Healthcare grants.”
The SPARK grants were distributed as follows:
Direct Aid: County and City civic agencies received SPARK grants totaling $418,367
Business: 24 businesses received grants totaling $280,046
Nonprofit: 12 nonprofits received grants totaling $181,954
Healthcare: 5 healthcare businesses/organizations received grants totaling $130,309
Childcare: 2 childcare agencies received grants totaling $31,650
“The collaborative efforts that it took to distribute needed assistance to businesses, non-profits, healthcare and childcare through the Norton County SPARK Funding process was one of the most rewarding experiences in 2020 for the Chamber,” said Donna Eastman Liddle, President & CEO of Norton Area Chamber of Commerce. “In a year of ‘living on the financial edge' this represented some solid footing with which to take a few steps forward.”
The City of Norton was successful in converting CDBG funds into a Covid Virus business support grant pool. Simultaneously, Norton County acquired Federal Cares Act funding to create an additional CDBG-CV pool of grantable dollars for business support. As a result of these two programs, 33 local businesses received a total of $288,000. $35,000 additional CDBG funds were awarded to Norton County to create community meal programs, of which nearly $6,000 have been used to support holiday meal services and food basket deliveries.
“With so many businesses and nonprofits facing financial hardships over the past year, it was gratifying to see local, state, and federal funds strategically applied to assist businesses in keeping doors open, and more importantly, staff employed,” said Mike Posson, Executive Director of Norton City/County Economic Development. “It was also commendable to see the Norton County Commissioners place such a high level of trust on a group of local stakeholders to implement plans to distribute those funds. The committees that oversaw the application/submission process were united by a shared vision and commitment to serving our community.”
For more information, please contact Tara Vance, Norton County Community Foundation (firstname.lastname@example.org), Mike Posson, Norton City/County Economic Development (email@example.com), Donna Eastman Liddle, Norton Area Chamber of Commerce (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Troy Blevins, Emergency Management (email@example.com).