Lebanon County’s small businesses, nonprofits, and others can now apply for coronavirus relief grants.
The first of two phases in the program will accept applications from Sept. 1 to 4 p.m. Sept. 15. Grant awards for phase one will be announced Sept. 30.
Lebanon County received $12.8 million in block grant funding from the state Department of Community and Economic Development, with $7.25 million being available as grants for the categories of tourism/hospitality, nonprofits, and small businesses (with less than 100 employees).
The county commissioners approved those three areas for funding. They were assisted by the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce, Lebanon Valley Economic Development Corp., Visit Lebanon Valley, and the United Way of Lebanon County in putting the program together to disburse the CARES Act money.
“We made it a priority to keep the grant general and open to those businesses that were the most vulnerable due to the closures,” Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz said in a release. “Hopefully, these funds will go a long way to keep them and our county open for business.”
Phase two applications will open at 8 a.m. Oct. 15 and close at 4 p.m. Oct. 30. Grant awards for this phase will be revealed Nov. 15.
All funds must be spent by Dec. 30. The largest grant available is $50,000.
According to the release, grants may be used to cover necessary working capital costs or for retrofitting expenses incurred (or to be incurred) until the end of the year. Working capital can include payroll, rent, mortgage interest, utility bills, cable, internet, phone, spoilage, personal protective equipment purchases, cleaning supplies, unemployment compensation costs and other operating expenses, but not owner compensation. Funds cannot be used to pay back loans to shareholders, partners, the sole proprietor or family members.
Among the additional eligible expenses for nonprofits are the costs of restocking food pantries and expanding shelters.
“We take it for granted that most businesses are moving along and in the recovery phase,” Karen Groh, president/CEO of the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce, said via email to LebTown. “But there is still a portion of Lebanon County businesses … suffering and in need of a little more assistance to make it to a recovery phase. These businesses are worth saving as they contribute not only in services to Lebanon County but also employment, tax base and entrepreneurship.
“We understand it will not be a perfect process. But we have worked for more than two months to think of as many contingencies as possible in advance of the application launch. We would encourage applicants to let us know of issues we may have not foreseen and to have a little patience as we tweak the process.”
Applicants are asked to complete the application online at lebanoncountycares.com. Those who can’t should mail a completed application with copies of all supporting documents in a single envelope or folder to Garcia Garman & Shea, CPA, ATTN: Lebanon County Cares, 216 S. 8th St., Lebanon, PA 17042. Applications can also be delivered to Garcia Garman & Shea using the secure drop slot on the left of the front door.
“The ultimate goal for all of us as collaborators,” Groh said, “was to provide the assistance necessary to our business and nonprofit community that are still struggling. In the end, we all want to keep Lebanon open for business.”
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Davis Shaver contributed reporting to this article.
Full Disclosure: The campaigns of Bill Ames, Bob Phillips, and Jo Ellen Litz were advertisers on LebTown during previous election cycles. Ames Home Services, the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce, and Lebanon County Cares are current advertisers on LebTown. LebTown does not make editorial decisions based on advertising relationships and advertisers do not receive special editorial treatment. Learn more about advertising with LebTown here.