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Northam outlines 1st proposal for part of federal aid money

July 12, 2021 GMT

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is calling for $353 million from the latest federal coronavirus relief bill to go toward boosting economic recovery efforts for small businesses and industries that took a hit during the pandemic.

Northam outlined the proposed investments at a news conference Monday, marking the first specific proposal for Virginia’s $4.3 billion portion of American Rescue Plan funding he’s made public.

Northam and fellow Democrats who control the General Assembly had previously issued a joint statement outlining their shared priorities for the money, without concrete specifics. Lawmakers will convene next month in Richmond for a special session to allocate the funding.

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Northam is calling for $250 million to go toward the Rebuild VA economic recovery fund, which provides grants to small businesses and nonprofits. Demand has been high for the program.

The governor also proposed allocating $50 million for Virginia Tourism Corp. initiatives and $53 million for other small business programs, including a fund intended to jump-start industrial projects.

“With the American Rescue Plan, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rebuild from the impacts of the pandemic, revitalize our communities, and invest in our shared prosperity,” Northam said in a statement.

Other announced priorities for Democrats include public health, rebuilding the state’s unemployment trust fund and accelerating broadband access.

Every Republican in Congress voted against the sweeping pandemic relief bill that President Joe Biden signed into law in March.