If you are the owner of a Northampton County small business that has suffered economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you could be eligible to receive a Small Business Relief Program grant of up to $15,000.
The county recently partnered with the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce (GLVCC) to promote another round of relief grants, which were first offered last year.
In June, Northampton County Council approved a resolution to create a new economic relief program, which will distribute $15 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding to businesses in the county with 100 or fewer employees.
As of Monday, ARP small business grants totaling $2,984,161.53 had been awarded to 209 Northampton County businesses since June, said director of the Northampton County Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Tina Smith.
In addition to being physically based in Northampton County and currently operating–or with a clear reopening plan–businesses must meet a number of eligibility guidelines in order to qualify for the grants.
Grant funding may only be used to cover certain expenses, such as payroll, benefit costs, employee retention costs, mortgage, rent, utility payments and other operating costs.
Businesses that received a grant under the Northampton County COVID-19 Relief Small Business Grant Program between March 1 and Dec. 30, 2020 are not currently eligible to apply for this round of funding, although Smith said they will be starting in August.
Grants must be used to cover business expenses not previously covered by other relief measures, such as state grants or loans, Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection (PPP) loans and local/regional grant and/or loan programs.
An overview of the small business relief program along with complete eligibility and other guidelines plus the application form may be found online on the GLVCC website.
There is an Aug. 31, 2021 deadline for small businesses to apply for a grant.
Once applications are received, the Northampton County DCED in partnership with the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce is processing them on a rolling basis.
Grant applications are then reviewed by a committee made up of Northampton County Administration members, Northampton County Council members and staff from the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, whose members will make funding recommendations to Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure.
“Priority will be given to businesses that have not received other state or federal COVID-19 grant assistance and/or funding,” according to the GLVCC program overview.
McClure will make the final recommendations for the grant awards to Northampton County Council, which will then consider each application for approval or denial.
“The effects of the pandemic continue to reverberate through our economy,” McClure said in a statement. “I encourage any small business in Northampton County struggling from the effects of COVID-19 to apply for a small business relief grant. Small businesses provide jobs and deliver needed serves to our residents and we want to keep those businesses healthy and thriving.”
Last year, more than 750 small businesses in Northampton County received COVID relief grant funding that totaled more than $10.1 million, according to McClure’s deputy director of administration, Becky Bartlett.