Today, Governor Laura Kelly’s Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas (SPARK) Taskforce held the first joint meeting between Executive and Steering Committees to create the framework for the distribution of up to $525 million for Kansans, businesses, and communities to recover from the economic impact of COVID-19.

“Kansans have been through so much these past few months,” Governor Kelly said. “I’m proud of my administration’s efforts to work with our local and federal partners to ensure Kansas families and businesses get the resources they need to recover from the economic damage of COVID-19. We will swiftly disperse these funds, so Kansans can get back to work and to support community preparedness in the event cases begin to rise again.”

This will be the 2nd distribution proposal for the $1,034,052,049 of federal funds Kansas received under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Last week, the Executive Committee approved a proposal to distribute an initial round of $400 million in funding to local governments to help address the health and economic challenges inflicted by COVID-19. 

“We need to leverage these dollars to benefit Kansans now and, in the future,” Cheryl Harrison-Lee, SPARK executive director, said. “To do that, we need to seek the best ideas from both the public and private sectors for how to make investments that will improve health and economic outcomes across our state. As a former city administrator, I’ve seen first-hand how partnerships with the public and private sectors can deliver projects expediently and generate lasting economic growth.”

The CARES Act requires these funds to be spent by December 30, 2020, which will require entities to work quickly to be eligible for funding.

Committee members spent the bulk of the meeting developing potential investment criteria focused around four sectors: health, infrastructure, education and economic development. 

“I appreciate the thoughtfulness and ingenuity our committee members brought to our discussions about investment priorities,” Lyle Butler, SPARK executive committee chair, said. “I’m confident we’ll be able to tap into the entrepreneurial spirit of Kansans to make strategic investments that not only accelerate our economic recovery but also generate new opportunities for growth.”