Economic and community development comprises a key element of the work of Central Midlands COG. Working with regional economic development partners, staff assists local governments in research, referrals and grant writing to support the development, expansion, and retention of businesses in the region. Local governments are also assisted in obtaining grants for water and sewer upgrades and improvements, workforce training needs, neighborhood planning, and other community development needs.
Businesses that require assistance with utility infrastructure may be eligible to apply for grants or loans through the SC Coordinating Council for Economic Development.
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) provides grant funds to distressed communities to revitalize, expand, or upgrade their physical infrastructure to attract new industry, encourage business expansion, diversify their local economies, and generate or retain long-term private sector jobs and capital investments. EDA grants may subsidize up to 50% of the total cost of a project. Other supplementary grant or loan funds for community and economic development projects can be obtained from the Division of Local Government within the S.C. State Budget and Control Board , the Rural Economic Community and Development Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Low interest loans for building or repairing wastewater and drinking water plants or distribution systems can be obtained through the State Revolving Loan Fund.
The SC Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA) was created to help communities with financing for qualified infrastructure projects. Infrastructure refers to water and waste water systems as well as storm water drainage and other public facilities. Grants cover 75% of construction costs in Richland, Newberry and Lexington Counties, and 100% in Fairfield County. RIA funds can only be used for construction services; no other costs are eligible.
Central Midlands assists many different local governments with applying for and administering Community Development Block Grants. In Richland (except for the City of Columbia), Fairfield and Newberry Counties, local governments are eligible to receive funds from the State of SC CDBG Program. In Lexington County, local governments can apply to the Lexington County CDBG Program for funds for a variety of projects including water and sewer improvements, ADA compliance, streetscaping and other CDBG eligible activities. Richland County and the City of Columbia each operate their own community development programs.
Planning for community and economic development is funded through ongoing EDA and State CDBG planning grants. Through these funds, Central Midlands is able to identify and participate in setting goals and objectives for regional community and economic development.
The Central Midlands regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) is required by EDA to maintain eligibility for annual planning funds. The CEDS is a regional planning process focusing on economic development and results in a five-year strategic plan for regional economic development updated annually. Each year the Strategy’s priority projects for EDA funding are updated to determine projects that may be eligible for funding, projects that have been completed, and any new information on projects.
In summary, CMCOG staff can assist local governments seeking grant or loan funding from a variety of federal and state sources, and can coordinate sources of such funding to aid in assisting businesses and improving their communities.
Please note that the Community and Economic Development division does not assist individuals with obtaining grants. People with individual needs can contact the United Way 211 service to locate resources including support groups, community clinics, counselors, shelters, food pantries, programs for seniors and much more. Other Federal grant opportunities may be found by researching Grants.gov, the Federal government’s website for locating federal funding.