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Project Funding in the Wake of COVID: How Cities, Districts, and Agencies Can Position Themselves to Win Outside Funding

01.11.2021

DURATION 4 minute read

The competition for outside funding can be fierce. Whether competing for federal or local funds, there are multiple steps you can take to better position projects for financial success. While you may be tempted to try to secure funding before a well-thought-out vision for the project is developed, a thoughtful and implementable plan will often prove more attractive to funding sources.

I recently sat down with Jim Webb, CEO of The Goodman Corporation, to discuss how project teams can move projects forward by optimizing their chances of winning outside funding.

 

Clearly Define a Project’s Purpose and Needs

Funding agencies want to support projects they know will serve a purpose and fulfill the needs of a community. They know project teams understand the nuts and bolts of a project better than anyone else, and they want that to be represented in submittals.

“Clearly defining a project’s purpose and needs allows you to find projects that demonstrate the regional significance and quality investment,” Jim said.

Think about the plan through multiple lenses that can communicate what the project is trying to accomplish and how you are going to get there. Identifying the purpose and needs of a project allows for a better understanding of its functionality – allowing you to recognize the project’s quantifiable benefits and better understand its scope.

 

Understand the Funding Agency

Understanding the funding agency lets you know what aspects of a project need to be emphasized. These agencies have different criteria a project needs to meet before they agree to fund it, and catering a submittal to their standards may prove beneficial.

Jim says, for an entity like the Economic Department Administration (EDA), cater your proposal to how the project will help create and retain jobs; while those seeking funds from an agency like the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) should prioritize safety. Funding approval may even come down to how an agency evaluates a project’s benefits. While some prefer a more qualitative explanation, other agencies want a thorough analysis of the quantifiable benefits.

 

Find Project Champions

Developing and implementing a project with just a few people is an often difficult and time-consuming endeavor. Having a coalition behind you -whether it be public officials or the community- can help move a project down the road.

“If you cannot find at least one person who cares about your project, especially an elected official, the project will likely not go very far,” Jim said.

Elected officials are busy people, but if you can find a time to sit down with them, talk about the project and communicate its benefits for the community, they may be willing to offer a letter of support for the project – which will further help your team secure the outside funds.

Jim talks about how you need to have a plan in place and constantly be evaluating your priority projects and their potential benefits for the community. He also mentions that it’s important to be working with a good team of planners and engineers to have projects teed up and be aware of which projects are most implementable now. Having a good plan (CIP) will help you know which projects need to be funded next and maximize your funding dollars. I think if we can highlight that, it will subtly pitch that you need a good engineering consultant working with you on your CIP, your projects, and your funding submittals.

Understanding the competition, scoring metrics and finding a coalition of support is key to helping your team receive outside funding. If you would like to learn more about how to better your chances of securing outside funding, check out our podcast – Texas By Design. You can watch my conversation with Jim Webb on YouTube, or listen wherever you get your podcasts.

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