It’s hard to believe that a year has passed since we first felt the impacts of COVID-19. Unfortunately, for many people the struggle continues and I want you to know that your city is here to help.
I am proud of the resiliency our community has shown throughout this pandemic.
Neighbors came together to shop for those that were too vulnerable to go out into the public. Many donated food and cleaning supplies to those less fortunate.
Federal, state and county financial resources have assisted in helping so many in need through this COVID crisis.
To date, the Surprise Resource Center, in partnership with Maricopa County, Area Agency on Aging and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has received $10.88 million in federal government funding to assist with meals for seniors and persons with a disability, rental/mortgage assistance and utility assistance. The Surprise Resource Center remained open for services throughout the pandemic.
The Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program provided billions of dollars in payroll assistance funding for businesses through two rounds of funding.
The city monitored how those funds were being utilized and created city-funded programs to address the unmet community needs that were not funded by existing sources, or had funding gaps.
In September 2020, city council approved disbursing $430,000 in AZ C.A.R.E.S. Act funding to address COVID-19 community and business needs. $250,000 supported local businesses with fewer than 25 employees with revenues less than $2 million. The funds helped pay staff, rent and utilities and $25,000 covered administrative program costs.
We also allocated $155,000 to cover shortfalls in senior meals, homeless outreach and water billing assistance.
On Nov. 3, council voted to disburse an additional $100,000 in Small Business Relief funding, while expanding the scope of assistance to include small business retailers and nonprofits with commercial space who were not restricted by the governor’s executive orders. Council also approved an additional $25,000 for water utility payment relief.
The Surprise Small Business Relief Grant, disbursed over two rounds, retained 483 local jobs and helped 79 eligible local small businesses in the community. Our Resource Center has so far served over 1,600 families, helping them to stay in their homes with the power and water connected. Since the pandemic began, we’ve served 31,033 meals.
The city has provided more than financial support. Our award-winning COVID resource webpages serve as valuable resources connecting residents and businesses to even more support services and information.
At the very beginning, our Economic Development team established a “We’re Open” banner campaign for local businesses to post on site so people knew what businesses were open, providing delivery or take-out services. Residents stepped up in a big way, ordering more take-out than ever before to support their hometown favorite eateries!
While the challenging times are not completely over, I am proud of the approach our council and staff have taken to assure we are allocating resources in a fiscally and socially responsible manner.
Our efforts will continue as we anticipate another round of funding through the American Rescue Plan Act in the future. We have a good plan in place to monitor where the needs are and address as appropriate.
It’s all about taking care of our people.
Editor’s Note: Skip Hall is the mayor of Surprise.