Recovery grants for Lackawanna and Luzerne County hospitality businesses open in March
Both Lackawanna and Luzerne counties will release millions of dollars in grants to help restaurants, hotels, and other businesses in the hospitality industry following an exceptionally difficult year.
In February, Governor Tom Wolf signed Act 1 of 2021 into law, which set aside $145 million to establish the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Grant Program that will aid the hospitality businesses most adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The funding was then distributed through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development to Lackawanna County.
This week, Lackawanna County commissioners approved $2,374,844 through the program, providing grants up to $25,000 to eligible hospitality and accommodation businesses in Scranton and the surrounding area.
“The hospitality industry has been hit very hard by the pandemic. The majority of our well-established area restaurants and small eateries were reduced to takeout or capacity restrictions, while our hotels saw a huge drop-off in guest room bookings. We are very pleased to provide some assistance again in conjunction with our partner, the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce. Together, we will utilize our resources to assist these sectors to get on the road to economic recovery,” the board of commissioners stated.
The county will partner with MetroAction, the small business affiliate of the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce, to administer the program and provide technical assistance to grant applicants and awardees.
More information on this program is available at metroaction.org. Businesses are encouraged to read program guidelines and gather required documents. The grant application will open on Monday, March 8 and will be available for a two-week time frame or until funding is exhausted.
For Wilkes-Barre and all of Luzerne County, $3,595,181 in competitive funding was made available to eligible hospitality businesses and to cover the costs of operating the program.
Act 1 of 2021 requires that counties establish grant programs through a Certified Economic Development Organization or Community Development Financial Institution, so Luzerne County has approved Can Do, Inc. in Hazleton and the Greater Wilkes-Barre Industrial Fund to administer them.
It is anticipated that the online application portal will be open from Monday, March 15 through Monday, April 5. Luzerne County-based private for-profit entities that were in operation as of Feb. 15, 2020 and have a NAICS designation of 721 or 722 are eligible to apply. Entities must have sustained a minimum quarterly revenue loss of 25 percent or greater in any quarter when comparing between 2019-2020. Businesses must have fewer than 300 employees and a maximum tangible net worth of no more than $15 million. Passive businesses, such as commercial and residential landlords, are ineligible to apply.
Available funds are limited, and high demand is anticipated. An eligible business may only apply once for the grant program and can only receive funding from one county. Funds can be used for eligible operating expenses, including payroll and non-payroll expenses incurred between March 1, 2020 and June 15, 2021 that are both ordinary and necessary, including rent, mortgage, supplies, inventory, and other operating costs.
“I am proud to partner with the Greater Wilkes-Barre Industrial Fund and Can Do to provide much-needed relief to Luzerne County businesses that were impacted most severely by this pandemic” said County Manager David Pedri.
“Helping to stabilize these local businesses who are such a vital part of our communities until the pandemic subsides is a top priority for me as Luzerne County manager.”
Grant awards may not be used to pay the same eligible operating expenses for which an eligible business received payment, reimbursement, or loan forgiveness from the CARES Act of 2020, Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, or the COVID-19 Emergency Supplement to the General Appropriations Act of 2019. For more information on this program and to access resources to begin preparing an application in Luzerne County, visit luzernehospitalitygrants.org.
“Can Do is honored and excited for this opportunity to serve the hospitality businesses throughout Luzerne County. Can Do has been assisting businesses throughout the pandemic with applying for grant and loan programs like this. We are ready to do everything we can to help the hospitality businesses throughout Luzerne County get the funding they need to continue running their operations,” Can Do Business Development Specialist Mark Minnig said.
“COVID-19 has affected every segment and every facet of business, but certainly amongst the hardest hit is our hospitality sector. It has disproportionately impacted them in lost revenues, a furloughed workforce with lost wages, added expense and supply constraints due to safety restrictions and protocols, and crimped demand with their customer base. In addition, recovery will likely take longer than other industries, and will vary across segments,” added Greater Wyoming Valley Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Wico van Genderen.
“The $3.5 million County COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program is crucial in providing much-needed funding to the hospitality sector, and the chamber and Can Do are in lockstep with the county in getting these recovery grants to this critical and most vulnerable business sector.”