Apr 02, 2021


“Cities and metros should find ways to weave together various investments in order to achieve a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts.”
—Brookings fellow and “The New Localism” author Bruce Katz

Cities and counties are set to receive millions in Covid recovery funds from the American Rescue Plan. These substantial, flexible resources present an opportunity to leverage collective impact, Katz and other leading voices argue.

All told, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties and the 15 cities they encompass are slated to get almost $260 million. With thoughtful planning and coordination, these funds can spark significant traction on widespread challenges both persistent and pandemic-induced, from investments in broadband and water infrastructure to boosting hard-hit industries and upskilling the workforce.

“What we don't want to do is spend this money. We want to invest it,” REACH’s Andrew Hackleman told the New Times, calling the stimulus money a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in the community.”

To get even more bang for the buck, city and county leaders should direct public resources to catalyze private and civic investment. “One dollar of funding for capacity-building to support professional staff and technology driven operations and accountability on the front end can leverage anywhere from $50 to $100 and more in public, private and civic financing,” Katz writes, “producing returns that are much larger than the initial investment.”

This path requires hard organizing work and dedicated focus, but pays off with maximum impact on the region’s future prosperity.

“We need to articulate a vision for what we want this county to accomplish,” SLO County Supervisor Bruce Gibson said. “I think we can build it back better than what it was.”

Posted in Featured Articles.