Following the stimulus dollars

September 21, 2009
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With federal stimulus money on the move, Michigan’s homeland security funds are starting to see a boost, with $18 billion of stimulus money coming to the Great Lake State overall.

That money is divided up into areas such as education, technology and so forth. Roughly $3.5 billion is set aside for homeland security spending and is mostly available through grants.

“I keep hearing different dollar amounts because there are lots of pots of money, and in some cases, is it really homeland security or something else?” said Barry Cargill, executive director of the Michigan Homeland Security Consortium.

“What we are seeing is things like the $30 million announcement for the Selfridge Air National Guard Base. What we’re also seeing is a large amount of the federal stimulus dollars going to the local police and fire departments.”

The federal stimulus dollars are divided into various grants and other funding opportunities, some direct and others indirect. Those dollars are then awarded to, for instance, local fire and police departments. Those departments then go out and purchase the equipment needed to uphold a certain level of homeland security.

“It could be something like Kent County has X amount of dollars available to it. They decide they want a box to put on buildings that are of critical importance for emergency management,” said Cargill, who gave DeVos Center as an example of a building that could be used as a shelter in case of an emergency.

“There could be something that they want to do in order to beef that up so they can communicate from that location in order to manage their (emergency) plan. Then they would apply for a grant for the federal stimulus dollars.”

Cargill said an interesting twist that has come from the stimulus dollars is the need for local departments to learn how to manage grants. Some homeland security solutions companies have been reaching out to provide that help as a point of customer service.

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