On Tuesday, May 3, Erie County Council passed the proposal to use American Rescue Plan money to create a “Fusion Cell” department.

The Fusion Cell will manage and report the ARP funds in the county.

Erie County Executive Brenton Davis said it will also take the remaining $26 million and help leverage that into $100 million through other state and federal funds.

“We need to have the capacity and the positions to research the grants, identify the areas that we need to identify them in, in terms of programming and where we make our investments. Also, properly report those so Erie County taxpayers are not placed on the hook for an improper investment,” said Brenton Davis, Erie County Executive.

He said the fusion cell will also make Erie a leader in the region.

The ARP funding needs to be allocated by December 21, 2024 and the funds need to be spent by December 31, 2026.

Davis said the new department will make intelligent decisions on where our investments can be most impactful.

“We have time. We have a little our two years or nearly two years to do our due diligence to identify areas in our community,” Davis said.

Erie County Councilman Brian Shank voted in favor of the Fusion Cell.

“Basically during the pandemic, we lost 30% of our local businesses and anything we can do to recover from that 30% is a plus and when a community does well, we all do well. Here we are putting this in motion, putting people to work, giving people the tools they need to get back to work and get Erie County up and running again,” said Brian Shank, Erie County Councilman.

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With the Fusion Cell approved, the county will begin searching for a director, assistant director, and office manager.