In 2020, the Economic Development Administration (EDA) awarded GMRC $400,000 in CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant funding to update economic development plans and fortify programs to assist communities in responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Key components of the recovery efforts included: (1) the development of an economic recovery and resilience plan, tied to the Georgia Mountains Region’s approved Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS), to address the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, (2) the deployment of disaster recovery coordinators to orchestrate the region’s response to the pandemic, (3) the provision of technical assistance, as necessary, to local governments, businesses, and other stakeholder organizations, and (4) the funding of appropriate technology and staff support for these pandemic-response activities.
The public involvement process for this project has been completed.
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Assess and Implement a Regional Disaster Recovery Plan: The GMRC has revised the existing CEDS/Regional Plan to include an assessment of the COVID-19 impact, an outline on pandemic recovery and resiliency, and how communities can be better equipped to recover and respond to future disasters.
Medical Accessibility Study: The GMRC is completing a study featuring two main components: 1) An inventory of all medical resources and offices within each community, as well as a survey of major medical centers about their experiences during this process, and 2) an assessment based on the data of how each community rates regarding existing access to care and potential concerns in pandemic events. This will aid future projects as part of the Healthy Communities initiative with data that can contribute to local comprehensive plans and Hazard Mitigation Plans.
Economic Base & Sensitivity Survey: Economic Base studies are used to highlight which industrial sectors are bringing money into a community and which are predominantly local money circulators. Building off this data the GMRC is identifying which industries are the most sensitive to local spending and thus more prone to losses/closure during extended shutdowns. Having this information will offer a) business leaders and financial institutions insight into how industry types should save and prepare for such events; b) help community leaders be more target-specific in recruiting certain types of businesses into the area that can bolster economic diversity; and c) give State and federal leaders a better idea on how to target any post-event financial aid so that it reaches those most in need.
County Response and Recovery Toolkit: Information from each of the above project tasks has been pulled together to create County-specific reports and recommendations on how each community should prioritize efforts both in recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and in planning to be better prepared ahead of a possible future pandemic event.