Scranton, Lackawanna County, PA -
The City of Scranton awarded nearly $350,000 to support the creation and expansion of small businesses on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023. Businesses applied in the Fall of 2022 for the grants that are part of the City’s $68.7 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.
“By investing in small businesses, we’re helping others create new jobs, revitalize buildings, and find solutions to emerging problems in our community,” Mayor Paige G. Cognetti announced at Downtown Deli, 300 Biden St., Scranton. “Our first ARPA Startup and Expansion grants support businesses that are as diverse as the City itself, and there’s still more grant money to help others realize their dream of building or growing their business right here in Scranton.”
Through a spending plan approved by City Council in May 2022, the City allocated a total of $1.25 million to support the creation and expansion of Scranton’s small businesses. Applications opened in September 2022, but the City revised grant guidelines in November to make funding more accessible. Applicants can receive up to 25% of eligible costs in their startup or expansion project budget, with a $100,000 limit per business. Approximately $900,000 remains to support startup and expansion projects, and submissions are under constant review. Applications remain open, and funding is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Applications were weighed based upon the City’s ARPA mission, which aims to give people access to resources, rebuild infrastructure systems that impact everyday life, and foster equitable wealth generation targeting residents’ needs. All applications were reviewed by the City, compliance consultants from Anser Advisory, and representatives of both the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce and Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania for business sustainability and duplication of benefits, among other factors.
At Tuesday’s announcement, Mayor Cognetti was joined by grant recipients including Downtown Deli, Retro Café, and Unison Workforce Technologies.
“This project is three years in the making. We had the idea to expand into a catering business before the pandemic, but we needed a little extra help to get it off the ground,” said Downtown Deli General Manager Denise Leppo. “It’s wonderful to get this funding from the City to finally get up and running.”
“We have been developing our app FYSH (Fuel Your Side Hustle) for over a year now! Covid really delayed our project, yet we continued to pay our staff through the entire pandemic,” added Marilyn Major, CEO of Unison Workforce. “I am so appreciative of Mayor Cognetti and the city for this generous funding that will help make our app successful so we can hire more people in the near future.”
Grant recipients, the funding they will receive, and their project details, in alphabetical order, are:
- Downtown Deli, 300 Biden Street, $77,234 towards the addition of catering services, including the physical expansion of their downtown footprint along Biden Street for both food preparation and service. The Deli will also build a new accessible restroom.
- Little Wild Refillery, 343 N. Washington Avenue, $19,376 for the ongoing support of the seven-month-old sustainable goods and zero-waste shop, including the creation of a new part-time position. The business previously received a $5,000 Small Business Microgrant from the City.
- Nlyten Corp., doing business as GUIDE, located at the Scranton Enterprise Center, 201 Lackawanna Avenue, $100,000 for the tech startup’s creation of multiple full-time positions, with a focus on hiring recent graduates of local colleges and universities. The company anticipates a February 2023 launch of its GUIDE mobile app, which is designed to deliver proven behavioral health and wellness practices to veterans and first responders, empowering them to resolve past trauma, improve their well-being, and achieve their highest potential. Details at www.theguideapp.com.
- Retro Café, 1139 Capouse Avenue, $53,000 for the conversion of a former derelict and condemned Lackawanna County Landbank property into a new café in the Pine Brook section. Funding will support construction costs, inventory, payroll, and more. Retro Café previously received a $70,000 loan-to-grant from the Scranton Office of Community and Economic Development to help fund two new employees.
- Unison Workforce Technologies, located at the Scranton Enterprise Center 201 Lackawanna Avenue, $100,000 for the ongoing development of its mobile application “FY$H – Fuel Your Side Hustle,” an app designed to support the thriving self-employed gig economy. Grant funding will support user experience development, quality testing, and an ambitious employment growth plan through 2025.
The City also announced a $25,000 ARPA grant for small business financial recovery to Crotti’s on Ash, 1431 Ash Street.
ARPA funding opportunities for small businesses remain open. The second round of applications for business recovery grants of up to $25,000 and Wage Boost grants of up to $50,000 over two years closes on January 31. Façade improvement grants of up to $10,000 remain open with applications closing in September. Information about Scranton’s ARPA plan is online at scrantonpa.gov/arpa.
ARPA funding supports 25% of business development and expansion budgets.
The first five organizations will receive a total of $349,610.
Nearly all projects include plans for job creation directly in the City.