County receives $450K in funding
Warren County has been awarded $450,000 in state COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program funds.
The state announced a total of $145 million committed to the program that was then allocated to counties based on its population.
According to a statement from Gov. Tom Wolf’s office, the funds are aimed “to help support the commonwealth’s hospitality industry.” Funding will be provided in the form of block grants to each county based on population.
The program requires the county to contract with one of a couple types of entities. One is a Certified Economic Development Organization — Warren County’s is the Northwest Commission — and the county commissioners took care of that requirement during a Wednesday meeting.
Commissioner Ben Kafferlin said the program will be similar to the Small Business Grant program from last year’s CARES Act funding.
While the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry as well as a couple auditing firms handled applications for the last round, Kafferlin said this funding stream will result in the application process being “warehoused in one organization.”
He said the county threw together an agreement with the Northwest Commission quickly to “get this (funding) out on the street.”
According to the governor’s office, grants will be awarded in $5,000 increments up to a $50,000 maximum.
Kafferlin said the funds are slated to arrive either this week or next week, according to the county treasurer’s office, and that it would take a few weeks to “get a unified application system up and running.”
He said he hopes that the application will be available sometime in March.
This funding is for a “very defined type of business,” he emphasized, such as restaurants, tourists attractions and lodging. He said talk in the region has centered around a minimum threshold of $5,000 for an award. He added that they should “probably air on the side” of capping the requests at $10,000.
A business is eligible, per Gov. Wolf’s statement, based on its North American Industry Classification System designation, has fewer than 300 employees, has a maximum net worth of $15 million, was in operation in Feb. 2020 and remains in operation and can demonstrate that “COVID-19 has had an adverse economic impact on the eligible applicant which makes the grant request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the… applicant..
There are also criteria by which entities can receive priority on their applications.
“(I am) looking forward to seeing the program move forward,” Commissioner Jeff Eggleston said, noting that there weren’t many businesses applying for funding in this space during the SBG program.