Posted on 7/6/2021 7:00:00 PM by Legrand AV Team
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was signed into law on March 11, 2021. It includes $350 billion for eligible state, local, territorial and Tribal governments to respond to COVID-19 and bring back jobs. The aid will be distributed in two tranches – 50% started going out in May 2021. The other 50% will start going out in May 2022.
That’s an impressive amount of funding heading to your local governments. Integrators who helped schools get up to speed with distance learning with CARES Act funding may be wondering if they can similarly leverage this new source of funding to help state and local governments. The answer? Not as directly.
BUT DON’T GIVE UP!
We spoke with our resident Solutions Team expert, Brian Retzlaff, for some creative ways to start opening discussions with state and local government officials who spent the last 18 months dramatically tightening budgets to get through the pandemic. Luckily, that very budget cutting is how Brian gets his foot in the door for new opportunities.
Revive Cancelled Projects
Lots of local governments had to cancel AV projects as it became apparent that we were looking at a drawn-out period of belt-tightening. It makes total sense to cut what you can to keep from having to lay off workers and decrease service quality.
“What’s interesting is in my opinion, we’re seeing a resurgence of projects that had been delayed,” Brian said. “Projects are coming back again that disappeared.”
According to the Treasury Department, one objective of the funding is to “Replace lost revenue for eligible state, local, territorial and Tribal governments to strengthen support for vital public services and help retain jobs.”
While not directly useable for AV purposes, that replaced revenue will ideally allow previously reallocated budgets to be back on the table. As these budgets open up, Brian says now’s the time to go back and see if those cancelled projects can be brought back to life. Perhaps you can even update the design to account for new health protocols. Dig up those abandoned government project bids from late 2019/early 2020 and see what you might be able to revive.
The Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds can be used to make “necessary investments to improve access to clean drinking water, support vital wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, and to expand access to broadband internet.”
AV may not have a strong place in the broadband internet, but the water and wastewater investments should get integrators thinking about control rooms. Most municipalities will be looking to upgrade their water control systems, especially as we see droughts continue through large swaths of the country. For residents, consideration of water systems will quickly go from “I just turn on the tap and it’s there” to “what is my local government doing to solve the water crisis?” Get ahead of the issue with some ready-to-go systems that solve problems before they hit critical.
Command and control console systems are not just for big operations like NASA anymore, and they don’t have to be complex. A simple monitoring and command desk with a few displays on the wall should help any municipality keep their water and sewer infrastructure running smoothly.
Brian recommends Connexsys mounts or Fusion wall mounts with the connecting adapter to position the displays precisely.
Digital Signage for Public Health
ARPA funds can be used to “support public health expenditures, by, for example, funding COVID-19 mitigation efforts, medical expenses, behavioral healthcare, and certain public health and safety staff,” according to the Treasury Department.
Mitigation and prevention efforts include a wide range of services needed to combat COVID-19. Public communication efforts, capital investment in public facilities to meet pandemic operational needs, and improvements in technology infrastructure are noted as acceptable expenses in the Secretary of the Treasury’s interim final rule.
The case could be made for digital signage improvements to help meet pandemic operational needs and public communication efforts.
“Even though the stimulus doesn’t directly support it, the need for digital signage in the support of public health is very high. We need to create wayfinding and other ways to direct traffic to get people where they need to be while maintaining safe distances,” Brian said.
Legrand | AV recently published a handy guide to digital signage solutions in government, complete with eight diagrams to get you started.
Beyond the American Rescue Plan Act
While not related to ARPA directly, it’s important to note that with new houses popping up everywhere and with housing prices on the rise, additional revenue in property taxes will start making new government projects more feasible in a couple years.
“Now is a good time to meet with your government contacts to plan for future projects that can take advantage of increased revenues,” Brian said. “So, start pitching AV infrastructure projects such as improvements to boardrooms, conference rooms, digital signage, council chambers and a host of smaller projects that weren’t previously financially feasible.”
Don’t forget – we can help
Our Solutions Team is available to help you create a design for state, local and public institutions. This is especially useful for helping larger dealers avoid conflicts of interest when bidding for certain government entities that don't allow a design and bid from the same vendor. We do that for free. Yes. Free. Learn more.
Contact Legrand | AV’s Solutions Team by reaching out to your territory sales manager, or you can fill out this simple form.
Another infrastructure bill is coming soon. Be sure to check back for more tips on how the AV industry fits in.
See what projects qualify and how much your local government is receiving from ARPA.
More on Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds
Local Allocations in the American Rescue Plan Act
ARPA frequently asked questions for Local Relief