Column from State Treasurer Sprague on COVID-19 Resources for Local Government
Building a Stronger Ohio, Together
By: Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague
It doesn’t matter where you live or what you do, the plans we had for 2020 have, in many ways, been pushed aside as we combat and eventually recover from the COVID-19 outbreak. For local governments, the services you provide are essential and we commend you for supporting Ohioans during this challenging time.
It goes without saying that the financial markets have been volatile while the economy reacts to the changes we’ve had to make to our daily lives. We’re continuing to monitor this as it relates to STAR Ohio and other programs.
During a crisis like the COVID-19 outbreak, the $3.8 trillion municipal bond market is particularly important as state and local governments seek to provide critical support for the infrastructure needed to care for Ohioans. In March, as Congress worked on COVID-19 relief legislation, I wrote to the Ohio delegation urging them to provide emergency support to the municipal bond markets. We were happy to see the final legislation provided the Federal Reserve the authority to invest in the municipal bond market.
While we continue to monitor the full impact of the federal legislation, I would encourage you to look at the Ohio Market Access Program (OMAP) offered by our office. OMAP is a credit enhancement program that leverages the state’s excess liquidity and high short-term credit rating to help improve market access and lower borrowing rates for local governments. At a time when local governments are searching for alternative financing tools to support critical projects, OMAP is a proven and reliable tool that can help.
Since its 2014 launch, OMAP has supported more than 150 deals, ranging from $390,000 to over $100 million. There have been no defaults, and to date, OMAP has generated more than $2.8 million in savings for local governments. Any government subdivision in good fiscal standing, including cities, villages, school districts, counties, townships, and special districts, issuing short-term debt is eligible to participate.
As leaders in our communities, you’re keenly aware of the impact COVID-19 is having on our business community. To that end, our office is committed to supporting businesses as they work through this difficult time. First and foremost, we would encourage all business owners to look into the Disaster Assistance program offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration. More information can be found at http://sba.gov/disaster.
The Treasury also facilitates loan interest rate reductions through four linked deposit programs – GrowNOW, ReEnergize Ohio, ECO-Link, and Ag-LINK. These programs make borrowing more affordable, improving financial stability and allowing businesses to retain workers, hire new employees, pay for renovations and equipment, and increase productivity. Our linked deposit programs serve business owners, farmers, and homeowners throughout Ohio.
Further details on these economic development programs can be found on the website at http://ohiotreasurer.gov/Economic_Development. I would encourage you to share this information with the businesses in your communities.
Again, I commend Ohio’s local leaders, first responders, and health care workers for all you’re doing to get us through this difficult time. The Treasurer’s office will continue to seek out solutions to assist our communities in financing the tools needed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and begin our recovery. We’re all in this together, and Ohio is strong. Thank you for all you’re doing for your communities, your families, and your state.