More help is on the way for Lancaster County’s battered hospitality industry.
On Wednesday, Lancaster County Commissioners approved a plan to distribute nearly $6.2 million in state money to restaurants and hotels that have suffered losses from the coronavirus pandemic.
The money will be in the form of grants worth between $5,000 and $50,000 given out during the last three weeks of April. A two-week grant application period opens March 8 and runs through March 19.
The program is being overseen by EDC Finance Corporation, which will post information and an application later this month at www.recoverylancaster.com. Under the terms of the agreement with the county, EDC will get $500 for each approved application.
EDC Finance Corporation is a community-based private, not-for-profit organization that was founded by the Economic Development Company of Lancaster County in 1987 to provide Lancaster County businesses access to state and local economic development incentive financing resources. The state grant program requires the county to contract with such a “certified economic development organization” to distribute the funds.
The grant program offers assistance for hotels, motels and campgrounds as well as restaurants, caterers and other food service businesses. EDC estimates there are more than 1,000 such Lancaster County businesses.
To qualify for the new grants, businesses must have fewer than 300 employees and a net worth of less than $15 million. They must also be able to document at least a 25% revenue loss during the pandemic. Businesses that previously received federal or state pandemic loans or grants are eligible, but priority will be given to ones that haven’t gotten any assistance before.
The grant money can be used for working capital and operating expenses, including payroll, rent, supplies and inventory.
The funding for Lancaster County businesses comes from the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program, legislation that allocates $145 million for grants statewide and was approved Feb. 5 by Gov. Tom Wolf.