Begun in 2017, the Transformative Climate Communities program earmarked $70 million in grants for a slew of Fresno development projects. A final agreement for those dollars is expected between the city and the state this month. Image via transformfresno.com.
The City of Fresno is awaiting the final grant agreement from the state after the award was announced last year for an ambitious revitalization project in southern Fresno. The amount, however, will be less than originally pledged.
In 2017, the State of California pledged $70 million to Fresno to create projects in downtown and southwest Fresno, along with Chinatown. Paid for by cap-and-trade funds, these projects have been designed to generate economic opportunities and public and environmental benefits to these underserved areas while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Some of these project proposals — made by organizations with fewer resources — were folded into larger projects with higher-capacity organizations. Along the way, the state’s Strategic Growth Council worked with the city by providing technical assistance and evaluated project feasibility.
The biggest of these projects has been the West Fresno Satellite, a new, 39-acre campus for Fresno City College on E. Church Avenue in southwest Fresno. According to the TCC’s final proposal from December 2016, the State Center Community College District will receive $16.9 million for this project, along with further funding by Measure C.
An award announcement was made in January 2018 with the agreement sent last December, and Fresno is now awaiting approval by the Fresno City Council. Once approved, the agreement will bind city and state for the implementation of the Transform Fresno Plan. According to Mark Standriff, director of communications and public affairs for the City of Fresno, the agreement should be entered this month. The plan will be implemented according to projects that meet the readiness thresholds.
“We anticipate entering into the master grant agreement with the state in February 2019,” Standriff said, “and taking each subsequent Sub-Recipient Agreement as they meet the readiness thresholds, but no later than one year from the execution of the master agreement.”
However, the funding will come at a lower rate than previously expected. So far, there have been two budget reduction requests by the state totaling 7 percent. The first of these was a 5 percent reduction to pay for state administrative costs, which will add to $3.5 million—bringing the grant award to $66.5 million. The reduction applied to each project, and the city had to get rid of a downtown connection to the High-Speed Rail to compensate. Standriff added that this connection is still a priority, for Fresno, but won’t be built with TCC funds.
The other 2 percent reduction comes as a request from the state to fund administrative costs. As is standard with state grant agreements, the money will be reimbursed by the SGC.
According to Louise Bedsworth, executive director of the SGC, the state will provide further assistance when projects begin in the form of an on-the-ground consultant and coordination of the grant.
“SGC staff is also working with the City of Fresno to help develop their workforce development, community engagement and displacement avoidance plans,” Bedsworth said. “Which will be due during the first quarter of the grant term.”
Bedsworth added that Fresno can expect projects to begin sometime this year.