Businesses that continue to face financial hurdles during the COVID-19 pandemic will soon be able to apply for grants to help mitigate these challenges. Following a transfer of $145 million earlier this year from the state’s Workers’ Compensation Fund and with support from local financial organizations, businesses will be able to apply through the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP) in the near future.
According to a Pennlive story, the aid will be targeted to businesses with fewer than 300 employees that have lost at least 25 percent of their sales as a result of the pandemic. Priority will go to those that have not received funding from other state and federal programs, had to temporarily close as a result of Gov. Tom Wolf’s business shutdown orders or lost more than half of their revenue in 2020.
In order to apply, business owners must first determine the organization administering the program for their county (a list of participating CEDOs is available here; and a list of CDFIs is available here). Applications in every county will be made available no later than March 15. At a press conference with Gov. Wolf, Harrisburg Regional Chamber and CREDC President Dave Black said that his chamber and nonprofit economic development corporation are administering CHIRP for Dauphin County. “Our organization is administering these programs and we thank the county commissioners for having faith in our abilities, and to Gov. Wolf for ID’ing the funding sources for this program and for the quick action of the General Assembly and getting the program on the street quickly,” he said, adding that the application window for the program will be electronic and open at 9 a.m. on Monday, March 15. He noted that the Harrisburg Regional Chamber will host a free webinar for central Pennsylvania businesses on March 11.
Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin said that CHIRP was a quick and effective response to financial issues they’ve been hearing from employers, and they remain hopeful more assistance is coming from the federal government. The grant program is rolling out as Congress considers another stimulus package that includes $15 billion in grants for small businesses – funding that PA Restaurant and Lodging Association President John Longstreet told Pennlive will help small businesses survive until more federal relief becomes available. “We’re describing it as a down payment on what it will take to help save the restaurant and hotel industry,” he said.