JONESBORO — The City of Jonesboro has received approval for $366,326 in new federal money to help respond to the coronavirus. And the city’s grants department is seeking suggestions from the community on how to best spend that money.

The city held two public hearings Thursday to begin the required public comment period and will accept further comments over the next few days. The money comes as an addition to the city’s annual Community Development Block Grant through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Regina Burkett, the city’s grants and community development director, said during the first hearing Thursday morning the city council will have to approve the spending plan this year, though it won’t be spent until 2021.

A previous allocation of $362,564 was used to provide financial assistance to small local businesses to continue to employ low-income residents who had not received other federal assistance previously.

Eligible activities for the latest round of funding:

Acquisition, construction, reconstruction or installation of public works, facilities and other site improvements. Examples of building improvements include such things as providing homeless shelters to provide sanctuary against virus spread, facilities for testing, diagnosis or treatment of the disease or even acquiring or rehabilitating a hotel to accommodate isolation of patients.

Grants or loans to businesses for economic development, such as what the city did with the first allocation.

Grants or loans to nonprofit organizations to increase public services focused on direct services that combat COVID-19.

Development of emergency disease response plans.

Residents are asked to visit the city’s website, www.jonesboro.org/145/Grants-Community -Development to review options and submit comments to Burkett by phone at 336-7229 or email at: rburkett@jonesboro.org or to grant writer Lakyn Williams at 336-7226 or by email at: lwilliams@jonesboro.org.

Burkett said comment cards will also be available at the eastern parking lot entrance to Municipal Center, 300 S. Church St.

After reviewing the comments over the next few days, Burkett said her department would make a recommendation to the city council in December.