Nashville Mayor John Cooper on Wednesday proposed $30 million in one-time federal funds to support community-led budgeting and a business incubator at Fisk University.
Cooper’s newest proposals for Nashville’s American Rescue Plan funds would dedicate:
Cooper announced the requests at Wednesday’s COVID-19 Financial Oversight Committee meeting in an appearance not listed on the meeting’s agenda.
The proposals will be considered by the committee in August or September, and must also be approved by Metro Council.
Nashville stands to receive a total of $259.8 million in ARPA funds. The city received the first half of the funds last July and the second portion is expected to arrive this summer.
If fully funded, requests from Cooper’s administration would total $110 million of the $129 million remaining for allocation. This includes Cooper’s previous proposals for $30 million toward affordable housing and $50 million toward Nashville’s homelessness response.
Related: How 2,000 residents want Nashville to spend its American Rescue Plan funds
Nashville first tested participatory budgeting — a process allowing members of a city or institution to pitch and vote on projects to meet their needs — in North Nashville and Bordeaux in 2021. 
Community members voted to allocate $2 million toward upgrading the area’s parks, installing speed bumps and bus shelters and providing signage for the Buchanan Arts District. 
The program kicked off its second year with another $2 million for one-time expenses in March.
This proposal would extend the participatory budgeting process to communities throughout Davidson County. The $20 million would be split among communities using the CDC’s census-based Social Vulnerability Index as a reference to prioritize Nashville’s most vulnerable and underserved neighborhoods. 
The second proposal, a $10 million investment in the renovation of Fisk’s Burrus Hall, would transform the space into a 12,000-square-foot business incubator facility.
The former music building and men’s dormitory would become a “flexible space” for workshops and classes with the goal of helping small businesses enter into the digital economy, become self-sustaining or attract private investors.
Cassandra Stephenson covers Metro government for The Tennessean. Reach her at ckstephenson@tennessean.com or (731) 694-7261. Follow Cassandra on Twitter at @CStephenson731.

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