SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The new ARPA Neighborhood Economic Recovery Fund will go towards neighborhood improvements and addressing the impacts brought on by the pandemic but Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said this will take communities a step further.

“Businesses, institutions, core neighborhood life… and this is not just to have you recover, I want you to thrive,” Mayor Domenic Sarno said in a press conference at Springfield City Hall on Thursday.

Individuals, businesses, non-profits, and neighborhood councils can have a shot at the funds, presenting their ideas for neighborhood improvements. Betsy Johnson, the President of the Armoury Quadrangle Civic Association hopes that they can use the funds to establish a grocery store in downtown and to fill some of these empty storefronts.

“We have no place where we can walk to food,” she told 22News following the press conference. “Even the pharmacy has now moved blocks away. So yes, more services that serve the residents that live in the downtown.”

Two applications are available, the first for people and businesses to bring in projects to improve neighborhoods. The second is for non-profits and neighborhood organization, using both APRA funds and the Community Development Block Grant. The establishment of this new fund comes after more than 30 meetings with the community.

“The tornado was the focus of bringing resources and attention to my neighborhood, to the area which I was born,” said Councilor Melvin Edwards. “But now this is an opportunity for all the neighborhoods, all 17 neighborhoods of Springfield to benefit.”

Assistance for general applications for the Neighborhood Economic Recovery Fund will be held on February 28, 2022 at 6:00 p.m and March 16, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. Assistance for neighborhood councils/non-profits that will be submitting applications for Capital Improvements to Neighborhood Commercial Districts will be held on March 23, 2022 at 6:00 pm. Applications are due June 15, 2022.