A citizen-driven process of preparation and prioritization, Apex’s ARP projects are designed for long-term impact.
The American Rescue Plan offers a generational opportunity for our municipalities, not just to recover from the pandemic, but to thrive well into the future. It is this forward-looking aspect of the ARP that is most consequential. How best can we utilize this money to create a lasting impact?
All across North Carolina, cities and towns are developing plans and programs specifically geared towards this question, and history shows us that these projects will be successful. When our municipalities receive financial support, they achieve substantial successes. Cities get the job done.
This ongoing series will showcase those projects, plans, and transformational investments, both to highlight the end-to-end impressive work of our municipalities and to share best practices with other cities and towns.
Town of Apex
Funds Received: $16.75 million
Key Investments: Water infrastructure, affordable housing, parks, and nonprofit support
The message of the American Rescue Plan from local governments has been resoundingly clear: when cities get support, they get the job done. Few places exemplify that more than the Town of Apex, whose structure and strategy has allowed local leaders to quickly and effectively employ more than $16 million towards the community.
Apex’s approach is not a new one to the Town. Rather, it’s an extension of its larger philosophy, already very much in place: understand community needs and work to address them.
“Our process has put us in a good position towards the situation-changing, large-scale projects,” said Stacie Galloway, Communications Director for the Town of Apex. “It definitely changes the situation for some of these communities.”
Some issues are easy to see, such as the significant growth that Apex is experiencing. Just since the 2020 Census, the community has grown by an estimated 7%, creating capacity issues as it relates to infrastructure, primarily water and sewer. Other concerns can be harder to identify and may vary among the local population. Apex finds them through a series of community engagement endeavors. Bringing it all together is the long-term strategy overseen by forward-looking local leaders.
Towards ARP, the Town took all of the above into account. The result is a list of projects that meet both short-term needs and long-term goals, all aligned under a strategy informed by the community members themselves.
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT, PROCESS, AND INVESTMENT
The Town of Apex held multiple listening sessions for community members, both virtual and in-person. They also partnered with Wake County on a county-wide survey. From these efforts, leadership received more than 600 total responses.
“From those public engagement sessions, we were able to see what the public was interested in supporting,” said Galloway.
With community input received, Apex’s ARP team worked with city department directors to turn those requests into tangible projects, specifically looking at potential investments that had previously been evaluated and identified as important, but had not yet received funding. Apex then prioritized the list to ensure it met the Town’s overall goal for ARP funds, which, as Galloway said, “was to address the impacts of COVID on the Apex community.”
The result is a list of projects that comprehensively cover the town. Towards large, macro issues such as infrastructure capacity, Apex made significant investments into its water and sewer capacity, public spaces, and downtown. The Town also addresses affordable housing—another offshoot issue of population growth—with additional funding directed towards local nonprofit organizations.
The full list of projects can be seen in Figure 1.
Apex’s ability to quickly identify and pursue transformational projects is a testament to its preparation, capacity, and approach. The projects above were not selected on a whim. Rather, they are the culmination of thoughtful, long-term strategic thinking.
“A lot of these projects, we’ve been looking at for a while,” said Galloway. “Without these funds, they wouldn’t have been feasible. Now we’re in a position to pursue them.”