Lancaster County's smallest, most vulnerable businesses will be the first to start receiving economic support grants of up to $35,000 as early as the end of June.
A three-phase plan for the release of $25 million in CARES Act economic recovery grants will tentatively dispense $10 million in June, $10 million in July and the remainder reserved for late summer.
A rough timeline and criteria for receiving a grant, which will be administered by the Economic Development Company of Lancaster County and the Lancaster Chamber, was approved unanimously on Wednesday by the county Board of Commissioners.
Lancaster County' smallest businesses, those with fewer than 20 employees, will be the first eligible for up to $35,000 in grant funding under the economic recovery plan developed by the Chamber and EDC.
Grants can be used by businesses for costs such as payroll, rent/mortgages, supplies, other operating expenses and to retrofit facilities to meet public health requirements.
"These are guidelines, and this does not mean that the programs we are talking about this morning are going to be accessible to businesses as soon as we get (approval)," Lisa Riggs, president of the Economic Development Company, said. "We just want to be very clear that just because there is formal action today doesn't mean the program is opening tomorrow. It puts (the programs) on a path to get them moving as quickly as we can."
There are about 11,000 businesses in Lancaster County with 20 or fewer employees, excluding farms. The most economically vulnerable will receive grants first, according to the agreement approved Wednesday.
Economic vulnerability will be measured by a weighted scoring system developed by the Economic Development Company and Lancaster Chamber, which places priority on year-over-year revenue decline from March to May 2019 versus March to May 2020, other funding the business has received since March (such as the Paycheck Protection Program), and what the business intends to do with the grant funds.
The businesses' funding scores will be reviewed by the board of commissioners and made public, as will the list of recipients.
Information and application criteria will tentatively be posted to www.recoverylancaster.com on June 4 in phase one, with applications opening up June 8, and approval of grants by the commissioners June 24 or July 1, with disbursement following after approval.
The plan approved Wednesday states disbursements would then move to phase two, opening the grants up to businesses with 100 or fewer employees.
The commissioners also approved a plan Wednesday to distribute free PPE kits to businesses with 100 or less employees.