Manassas City Takes Innovative Approach to Using CARES Act Funds

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Provided by City of Manassas

The City of Manassas is dedicating $400,000 to expand its long-standing partnerships with SkillSource and Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA). The funds will directly help residents who have been furloughed or are unemployed as a result of the pandemic. “We will be using CARES Act funds to help people get the skills and support services they need to land the jobs they want,” said City Manager Pat Pate. “Manassas has a resilient and diversified economy. Almost all of our businesses will weather this storm … [However], too many of our residents are out of work and we need to address that.”

Using SkillSource as the lead agency, the City is working with NOVA and its own Department of Social Services to provide jobseeker and employer services focused on the needs of individuals. The $400,000 will go towards occupational training, subsidized work experiences, job fairs and worker training. The money will also fund much needed supportive services like transportation, child care, and providing work-related equipment. The Jobseeker Services programs run by SkillSource and the training provided by NOVA already receive federal or state funding that reduces these costs. The City is allocating additional funding of up to $5,000 per participant that, in most cases, eliminates the cost altogether.

Removing a Barrier and Adding Supportive Services

“By removing cost as a barrier and adding supportive services, the City can best help residents get jobs,” said Economic Development Director Patrick Small. “By helping people get jobs, we help businesses meet their workforce needs. Like most local governments, Manassas initially used CARES Act funds to make small business grants. The City awarded 140 small businesses $2,500 each to help offset the loss of revenues caused by having to close or curtail operations. Most of those businesses were personal service providers and restaurants. The grant programs were anticipated to have a much broader appeal. City leaders were surprised by the low number of applicants who actually qualified to receive grants despite a significant advertising campaign. “Many of the businesses that didn’t qualify or didn’t apply simply didn’t have the revenue losses we expected,” said Small. “That doesn’t mean all of our businesses haven’t been hurt in one way or another.”

The City has also dedicated CARES Act funds to George Mason’s Small Business Development Centers to provide counseling and support services as a way to further help businesses. “Manassas relies heavily on partners in education and workforce development to meet the needs of residents and employers,” said Economic Development Assistant Director Nicole Smith.

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