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  • Writer's pictureCity of Charlestown

Charlestown awarded $250K OCRA funding for Small Business Relief, Social Worker position

Charlestown, IN - (April 19, 2021) – Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs today announced that an additional 80 Hoosier communities will receive more than $18.6 million in federal grant funding through OCRA's COVID-19 Response Grant Program. The City of Charlestown is among those communities, slated to receive another $250,000 award from the program - this time to fund a Social Worker position and an additional round of small business relief funding.

“This grant program has already provided support to more than 600,000 Hoosiers across our state,” Crouch said. “This round we expanded the COVID-19 Response Grant Program so we can continue helping Hoosiers, their families and their businesses recover from the pandemic.”

The City of Charlestown requested $150,000 to establish a grant program to assist local businesses with working capital, and $100,000 to support a Social Worker Contract temporary position to act as a community liaison for mental health services for a total request of $250,000.

The CDBG funds will be distributed to businesses within Charlestown city limits that have been most severely impacted by the economic downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Applicants may request up to $10,000 in grant funds for working capital to assist with payroll, rent, utilities, and operational expenses. Small business owners who would like be notified when the application process begins should complete the short form available via this link.

Once the City receives the applications, River Hills will summarize each request and send a short synopsis and the application documents to the selection committee for review. The City will then arrange a selection committee meeting to discuss each application. The selection committee will either recommend the grantee(s) or request additional information.

The City anticipates providing assistance to up to 34 businesses and retain over 136 jobs.

“There simply aren’t adequate words to express how thankful we are to Lt. Gov. Susan Crouch and OCRA for this support as Charlestown works to overcome the lasting challenges of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Charlestown Mayor Treva Hodges.

The city partnered with River Hills Economic Development District to write the application for this round of grant funding. Nick Creevy, a Community Development Specialist with River Hills said, “Helping out communities is what we strive for every day. We are excited for the City of Charlestown to be awarded these funds.”

River Hills is a regional community and economic development organization covering Clark, Floyd, Harrison, Scott, and Washington Counties. The organization provides expertise in local and regional economic development, grant acquisition, and grant management. The organization has helped garner over $150 million in grants and other program funding for the region.

“This award wouldn’t be possible without the help of the staff at River Hills, our own Redevelopment Commission and economic advisors at The Wheatley Group, and the members of our community who offered letters of support for the application,” said Mayor Hodges, “This truly is the result of strong community and regional partnerships.”

Special consideration will be given to local restaurants and retail as well as minority and veteran-owned businesses. Micro-enterprises comprised of 5 employees or less (including their proprietor), as well as businesses with up to 100 employees are eligible for consideration. Intake documentation as well as an agreement to a two-year reporting period are conditions of these awards. City representatives will be available after the application period opens to help facilitate the process and answer questions.

In addition to the funding for small business relief, the new grant allocates $100,000 for the city to address mental health and social service issues by funding a licensed social worker who will serve as a Community Liaison.

“We have excellent resources in Clark County to assist with mental health, substance abuse, domestic violence, and economic distress,” said Mayor Hodges, “what’s missing is a system that helps us follow up with residents once we make referrals - something to help us close the gap and ensure that people receive the help they need.”

Nick Creevy of River Hills noted, “From the beginning of the process, we knew that the city’s leadership had a great idea and a good shot at receiving a grant. We are thankful to the Mayor and the City for allowing us to be a part of an impactful program.”

The City’s Community Liaison will maintain current information on community partners and resources, provide trauma-informed needs assessment with residents seeking help, create referral documents, and manage case files. The liaison will work in partnership with the Charlestown Police Department.

Mayor Hodges explained, “This program will help us offer early intervention and follow-through for people in crisis, and will reduce the number of non-violent, non-criminal calls for service coming through our police department by linking people in need directly to someone who can help.”

A review of annual calls conducted by the Charlestown Police Department revealed that as much as 20% of calls for service had a high likelihood of being more appropriately served by the Community Liaison. While meeting an immediate need caused by the pandemic, the Community Liaison program will run as a pilot program with the possibility of continuing based on need.

“This is the next step in helping Charlestown thrive. We’ve worked to help our businesses survive the pandemic, now we will also be able to help our residents. I hope everyone who looks at Charlestown seeks a city that truly cares about improving the quality of life for those who make their homes here,” said Mayor Hodges.

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