Recently, Jeffrey Simon, Director of the Massachusetts Recovery & Reinvestment Office, paid a visit to this ocean side city at the behest of Governor Deval Patrick, to see firsthand the impact stimulus funds have had here.
The impact Simon saw was wide ranging and potent. He stopped by the Police station and met Police Chief Ron Teachman who said that the department had had to lay off 31 officers, 18 percent of its force. "That changes the level of service you can provide to the community," he said.
The department's stimulus award through the COPS Hiring Recovery Program of $2.4 million meant that the department was able to bring back all but eight of those officers.
Recovery Act Impact: New Bedford
"We could not have done it on our own," said Teachman.
Simon saw a similar impact at the Greater New Bedford Community Health Center, which helps 25,000 patients a year in this area, most of whom are low income and many of whom have no insurance coverage. The Center received three grants: $300K for an increased demand of services; $1.7 million for a capital improvement plan; and, $400K for software enhancement.
The stimulus awards are helping the center with a much-needed expansion, increased services and the ability to do more community outreach. Peter Georgeopoulos, the Center's executive director, emphasized that the Center, which employs 270 people, is a community determined to meet nearly all the health care needs of its patients - and to do it with dignity and respect. The stimulus awards are helping the Center achieve that goal.
The Authority received three awards: a $4.9 million grant through housing and Urban Development and two grants for photo-voltaic projects totaling nearly $2.5 million.
The stimulus funding we got has been a godsend," said Shoemaker.
According to Shoemaker, part of the funds are being used to develop 63 handicapped-accessible units for its tenants, some of whom currently live in public housing but now need the access. "It's really nice to be able to provide housing to existing tenants and give them what they need," said Shoemaker.
The photo-voltaic projects will go on the rooftops of two of the Authority's public housing projects to offset electricity costs. "In the long run this will be very valuable," said Shoemaker.
The city also received an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block grant of $869K which it used to open up its own energy office. Scott Durkee, who heads up the office said that the stimulus funds are being used to weatherize homes and create jobs for those doing the work. The energy office also used the stimulus funds to explore clean technology projects, develop data gathering tools and create a clean technology school curriculum, among other projects.
"All this activity is created by stimulus," said Durkee.