WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Biden administration on Thursday released $3 billion in COVID-19 rescue funds aimed at helping localities bolster their economies in the wake of the pandemic, calling on communities to seek funding for a range of revitalization projects.
The funding, authorized by the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, which passed in March, is part of President Joe Biden's "Build Back Better" agenda to rebuild the nation after the novel coronavirus triggered widespread shutdowns and led to more than 600,000 U.S. deaths so far.
It will be available to communities nationwide through six programs run through the Department of Commerce targeting jobs, tourism and jobs, among other areas, the agency said in a statement.
"This investment will ensure that they have the resources to recover from the pandemic and will help create new jobs and opportunities, including through the development or expansion of a new industry sector," the department said. "The flexibility of funding and wide range of programs are designed to meet communities where they are in their economic development process."
One billion dollars of the funding will be allocated for up to 30 localities that apply for money for up to eight community projects that could include building infrastructure or training workers, among other possibilities, it said.
The effort also includes $100 million "specifically for Indigenous communities, which were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic," the department added.
State and local governments, universities and colleges, nonprofit organizations, unions and tribes may apply for the funds, which must be awarded by September 2022, it said. For-profit companies and individuals are excluded.
(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)
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