Securing grant and loan assistance for community projects and services is another primary service provided to local governments by regional councils. The term “grantsman” began as a description of persons who were skilled at securing federal “grants-in-aid.”
“Grant” has become a generic word including gifts and loans secured from any federal, state, local, or private resource. It is common for today’s grant to require significant amounts of private investment in development projects. Also, private foundations are routinely being requested to finance community projects.
The “range of services” goes significantly beyond writing a grant application. In many cases, tasks include:
- Advising local governments on the type of project to undertake
- Providing information on the current availability of funds
- Providing statistical data to the applicant or preparing complicated applications on behalf of the recipient
- Securing cooperation and synchronizing funding from multiple sources
- Negotiating degrees of participation and/or loan rates of multiple improvements to “package” a complete project
- Managing construction and compliance reporting
Obviously, the scope of work now extends from preliminary stages to evaluations following project completion. Regional councils routinely prepare applications for submission to the Appalachian Regional Commission; State of Alabama Community Development Block Grant Program; Economic Development Administration; Department of Housing and Urban Development; USDA, Rural Development; Environmental Protection Agency; and the Small Business Administration.
Grant requirements and reporting are becoming more strict and complicated with each passing day. Knowledgeable regional staff members can assist local governments in managing their grants in compliance with the many complicated federal restrictions. The fee for grantsmanship services provided by regional councils is “at cost” and traditionally well below the fees charged by for-profit firms.