As primary nears, Kemp issues $415M in federal COVID grants aimed at economy

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Monday announced the distribution of $415 million in grants to ease the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the state's businesses using federal aid that congressional Democrats approved in March 2021. He had earlier announced similar grants to boost broadband and fund water and sewer projects in the state.  Miguel Martinez /miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Monday announced the distribution of $415 million in grants to ease the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the state's businesses using federal aid that congressional Democrats approved in March 2021. He had earlier announced similar grants to boost broadband and fund water and sewer projects in the state. Miguel Martinez /miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

With a week to go before the Republican primary, Gov. Brian Kemp on Monday announced $415 million in federal COVID-19 relief grants aimed at easing the economic impact of the pandemic.

Kemp announced federal COVID-19 grants in February from the same pot of money for water and sewer and broadband projects. Committees had made their recommendations on all the awards late last year.

The governor had originally planned to announce the awards in January.

The money is part of $4.8 billion Georgia is expected to receive from a COVID-19 relief package Democrats in Congress approved in March 2021. The state has so far received $2.4 billion of the money. With the governor’s announcement Monday, he will have committed or spent about $1.8 billion of that.

The administration’s press release announcing the grants doesn’t mention where the money came from until the last sentence.

Kemp set up committees of lawmakers and state officials last year to make recommendations on applications for grants. Those committees reviewed and scored the applications in the fall. The state received about 1,500 applications for spending the money.

On Monday, Kemp said $150 million would go the Georgia Hotel & Lodging Association to provide grants to hotel owners hit hard by the pandemic.

“This grant is so important to Georgians — every single hotel property in the state has suffered significant loss since March 2020,” said Brad Koeneman, general manager of Hilton Atlanta and chairman of the association.

The money will be designated to rebuild the industry’s workforce, including incentives such as higher pay and bonuses, enhance safety and security on properties, and foster worker training and career development.

Kemp said the federal money also would provide $50 million for the Victims Service Provider Grant and $100 million for the Georgia Investments in Housing Grant.

The Victim Service Provider Grant will help address challenges that nonprofits have experienced as a result of economic hardships during the pandemic. The Georgia Investments in Housing Grant will support nonprofits that provide affordable housing and aid individuals experiencing homelessness.

Kemp also announced the following grants for programs that will have an impact on metro Atlanta:

  • Roughly $29.6 million to the Atlanta Community Food Bank to address food insecurity issues.
  • $12.7 million to Buckhead Christian Ministries to pay for expansion of its emergency assistance program.
  • $11.5 million to the Georgia Department of Economic Development to combat the negative impact of COVID-19 on the arts.
  • $6.1 million to the Georgia Department of Veterans Services for a program to help Georgia veterans find work.
  • $4.2 million to the Technical College System of Georgia for apprenticeship programs.
  • $2.5 million to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta for mentoring young people.
  • $1 million to Atlanta Habitat for Humanity.
  • $237,000 to Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities Inc.