More than 700 Lancaster County businesses struggling due to COVID-19 submitted applications for grant funds earlier this month.
About $16 million was requested by local businesses that submitted applications by the Nov. 13 deadline as part of the third phase of the Small Business Recovery & Sustainability Fund.
About $10 million is available in phase three of the program, which was open to larger firms (up to 500 employees) than the earlier two rounds. Eligibility in those was capped at 20 and 100 employees respectively.
The grants are made possible through CARES Act funding from the federal government given directly to the county. The county has distributed the funds as part of Recovery Lancaster, a partnership between the county, Lancaster Chamber and Economic Development Company of Lancaster County that was formed this spring to help businesses cope with the pandemic.
“For some of the industries and businesses that applied, they will continue to feel impacts because of seasonality or continued restrictions on gathering.”
The first two rounds also saw applications exceed available funds, as a total of 2,127 applicants sought more than $58 million in relief. The program awarded about $27 million in grants to 939 applicants.
In round three, a minimum of $3.5 million of the $10 million has been reserved for businesses impacted by COVID-19 and with 20 or less employees.
Applicants are scored based on criteria which includes that year over year revenue decline, whether they have received COVID-19 relief funding before and if their business is in an industry greatly impacted by COVID-19. Then financial information, certifications and overall application content is reviewed.
The Lancaster Chamber and EDC are on track to send a list of recommended applicants to the county commissioners for review and approval in early December. Following that, grants will be distributed in mid-December.
In addition to grants, Recovery Lancaster provided free personal protective equipment to local businesses so they can protect their workers. It also offers one hour of free legal help to businesses that have fewer than 20 employees and are facing legal issues stemming from the pandemic, as well as guidance for creating the safest possible environments for employees, vendors and clients. For more information, visit RecoveryLancaster.com.