HONESDALE – Some of the businesses hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions can soon apply for funds to alleviate revenue losses and pay eligible operating expenses through a $581,733 block grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The Wayne County Commissioners signed an agreement with the Wayne Economic Development Corp. to administer the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP) in Wayne County, in cooperation with the PA Department of Community & Economic Development.
The legislation, Act 1 of 2021, restricts the aid to two specific industry codes –NAICS 721 (Accommodations) and NAICS 722 (Food Services and Drinking Place). The grants, awarded in $5,000 increments up to $50,000, may not be used to pay for the same eligible operating expenses covered by payment, reimbursement or loan forgiveness from the federal or state government such as Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans or prior CARES Funding from Wayne County .
However, receipt of a loan or grant issued from the Federal Government or the Commonwealth does not disqualify an applicant from eligibility for a grant under this program.
WEDCO Executive Director Mary Beth Wood said the county was given a very short time to request the population-based allocation and must contract with a Certified Economic Development Organization, such as WEDCO, to administer the program by March 1.
Wood said the state continues to refine the regulations for the program and WEDCO will be developing the application packet that will be available electronically on or before March 15. She emphasized there are no applications available at this time, but said the agency will issue a press release when they are ready.
Applicants operating under the appropriate industry codes must be for-profit businesses, not publicly traded and have experienced as least a 25 percent reduction in gross receipts compared to 2019. They must also have fewer than 300 full-time equivalent employees at all locations and maximum net worth of $15 million.
Eligible operating expenses must have been incurred between March 1, 2020 and the date of the application, and priority will be given to applicants who have not received previous assistance from the state or federal government, were subject to closure by the Governor’s disaster declaration or can demonstrate a 50 percent reduction in gross receipts.
The rules and regulations for the hospitality recovery program continue to evolve but the details available at this time can be viewed online.
Commissioner Chairman Brian Smith complimented Chief Financial Officer Vicky Botjer for meeting the aggressive timeline set by the legislation in in order to access this valuable assistance for the hard-hit hospitality businesses in the county.