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New Albany officials say ARP funds can’t be used to help businesses affected by downtown construction

A sign reading "Businesses are open" is posted atop a gravel pathway along Main Street in New Albany in this December 2022 photo.
Aprile Rickert
/
LPM News
New Albany officials are exploring other options to help downtown businesses affected by a road project, after learning they can't use American Rescue Plan funding.

Small business owners impacted by a road project in downtown New Albany won’t receive financial relief from the American Rescue Plan, after city officials were advised it wasn’t a valid use of the funding.

At a meeting in mid-December, council member Greg Phipps and then-member Al Knable, who is now a Floyd County Commissioner, proposed a resolution to request the redevelopment commission reserve up to $500,000 in American Rescue Plan funds for the struggling businesses.

On Thursday, Phipps pulled the resolution, after outside counsel overseeing the ARP funds determined they couldn’t be used to help make up lost profits in this case.

City Attorney Shane Gibson said the Indiana State Board of Accounts also told him local government funds couldn’t be used for this particular purpose.

Steve Carper opened the New Albany Sugar Shoppe at Pearl and Main streets in late 2020. She said business has dropped off in recent months due to the construction, and she’s had to extend hours to help bring in more sales.

“But I'm determined and I'm going to stay positive, and I'm not going to let this beat me,” she said. “I want people to know that I appreciate every single person that comes through this door. And I am grateful for every single person who comes and spends a little time and a little money in my little candy shop.”

Other restaurant and shop owners have also said business has suffered since the Main Street Revitalization Project started several months ago. The project — which includes widening the sidewalks, adding benches and improving safety features — has left the street and sidewalks torn up.

A council committee tasked with looking at requests related to ARP funds is still exploring different options to help businesses impacted by the project and other downtown construction, as well as improvements to the Sherman Minton Bridge.

Council member Jason Applegate, who until recently served as president, said the committee is looking at opportunities for aid with community partners including One Southern Indiana. He said he hopes to have a plan in place within the next two to three weeks.

The Main Street Revitalization Project is expected to be finished in fall.

Coverage of Southern Indiana is funded, in part, by Samtec, Inc. and the Hazel & Walter T. Bales Foundation.

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Aprile Rickert is LPM's Southern Indiana reporter. Email Aprile at arickert@lpm.org.