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More than 800 county small businesses, nonprofits receiving coronavirus assistance funding


Luzerne County, PAMore than 800 small businesses and nonprofits in Luzerne County will start receiving over $10 million in coronavirus assistance funding channeled through county government, county Manager C. David Pedri announced Wednesday.


Pedri said he has witnessed difficulties “so many of our neighbors are facing” in the pandemic.


“Hopefully these grant funds will help ease some of the financial strain for our small businesses and nonprofit groups that have struggled these last few months,” Pedri said in a release.


He promised a media conference in early 2021 to review each grant and showcase the “hardworking women and men operating small businesses” and numerous nonprofits helping the needy.


Regional economic development organization Penn’s Northeast helped to administer the program for the county, with assistance from the Community First Fund.


Penn’s Northeast President/CEO John Augustine said his organization was proud to support the initiative and “offer a glimmer of hope to those that need it most.”


“Small businesses and non-profits are the lifeblood of our community,” Augustine said.


Augustine had issued a plea for more businesses and nonprofit organizations to apply for the funding in early October because only 170 had submitted requests at that time.


Funds must be used for costs incurred between March 1 and Dec. 30 due to the pandemic, including payroll and insurance, some mortgage and debt, rent and utilities and specialized coronavirus prevention equipment and training.


Pedri said the small business grants did not exceed $12,000.


To be fair, the county was equally allocating the small business funds based on the total number of qualified applicants, which ensured everyone received the same amount and eliminated fears those filing later would be shut out or disadvantaged, officials have said.


Pedri said he hopes the funding will help small businesses survive.


“This pandemic will end, and when it does, I hope that these county businesses will still have their doors open. This grant will assist them in doing so,” he said.

The county also provided grants to municipalities, schools, tourism-related venues, libraries, economic development entities and nonprofit youth sports organizations, Pedri said.


All awards complied with state Department of Community and Economic Development guidelines, Pedri said.


Funding to cover COVID-19-related expenses came from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

To be eligible, businesses had to have a physical operation based in the county, 15 or fewer full-time employees and annual revenues of $500,000 or less prior to March 1, 2020.


Nonprofits had to be tax-exempt, have a primary physical operation in the county and attest that at least half of their annual pre-pandemic revenues came from programs or services provided to disabled or low/moderate-income county residents focused on homelessness, childcare, employment, transportation, health care, workforce development and/or food and housing security.

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