Local leaders discuss economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic and third stimulus relief plan

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GHENT, WV (WVNS) — Local leaders discussed the new COVID-19 relief package and how it could help southern West Virginia.

On Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 representatives from the National Association of Counties (NACo) had a phone conference to discuss the new COVID-19 relief package. Executive Director Matthew Chase said the new stimulus plan includes critical aid to state and local governments.

“Includes $350 billion for state a local government. $65.1 billion of that would be directed to our nation’s counties, it will be allocated based on population,” Chase said.

Mercer County Commissioner Greg Puckett is also the chair for NACo Rural Action Caucus. He said if the bill is passed, Mercer County will receive around $14 million to help with pandemic relief.

“You are looking at major infrastructure opportunities that could happen here, in terms of not only broadband, but if we’ve got people who need connectivity to the services in more metropolitan areas, like Bluefield and Princeton can we increase our transportation infrastructure,” Puckett said.

Puckett said he would also use some of the money to help bring back tourism to the area. He said he reached out to the state’s congressional delegation to discuss the needs of rural communities.

“That’s what we have to do in terms of communicating this back up to our congressional members,” Puckett said. “We are the ones that see the people, we are the ones that have to answer to the people the most direct way, and if you don’t give us the resources and you don’t give us the opportunities in which to do that, then we are not being beneficial to the people we serve.”

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on the American Rescue Plan of 2021, also known as the current stimulus plan on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021 in D.C.

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