On March 11, 2021, President Joseph R. Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). ARPA is an ambitious initiative to stimulate the American economy, support residents, and curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Cook County will directly receive over $1 billion from the federal government through ARPA and is in the process of developing a responsible, comprehensive, and equitable spending plan to strategically use these one-time resources to support both immediate recovery needs and long-term transformative initiatives.
The distribution of these crucial funds will build on the equity best practices Cook County introduced with the distribution of CARES Act funds last year.
Additionally, municipalities in Cook County with populations over 50,000 will receive direct funds from ARPA while the State of Illinois is responsible for distributing funds to entities with less than 50,000 residents.
Cook County government, with pro bono support from the Civic Consulting Alliance, is in the process of determining spending priorities regarding the American Rescue Plan Act funds. A great deal of work goes into a $1 billion spending plan, and we want to do it right: in an open, honest and transparent manner.
Funds provided under ARPA are substantial and will be transformational for states and local governments in their pandemic rescue and recovery efforts.
Investments in public infrastructure, economic and community development, workforce development and training, small business assistance, housing stability initiatives, public safety and social service supports are particularly well-suited uses of ARPA funds because of their expansive and recurring benefits. Cook County can cover the upfront costs of these programs using ARPA funds and will see their long-term, sustainable benefits well after the ARPA funds have been fully used.
We look at ARPA as funds intended for all of our residents—not just for Cook County government operations. This means we will spend funds in an equitable manner with the largest benefit to the most people over the longest amount of time.