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CARES Act grants awarded to more than 800 businesses and orgs in York County

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch

The York County Board of Commissioners awarded $14 million Wednesday to more than 800 small businesses and nonprofit organizations that applied for emergency grants through the federal CARES Act and YoCo Strong Restart Fund.

The grants are part of the county's $40.5 million allocation from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, and the York County Economic Alliance is coordinating the disbursement of the grants.

Before the funds are dispersed, applicants must sign their grant contracts and complete the necessary paperwork, so the timeline of how quickly they can receive the funds is up to them, said Kevin Schreiber, president and CEO of the YCEA, during Wednesday's county commissioners meeting.

"Our hope is obviously to move as expeditiously as possible," he said.

A closing post at Great Clips in the Shoppes at Wyndham Friday, May 8, 2020. According to a consultant's report on York County's economic future, up to 30% of local businesses may have to shut their doors permanently. Bill Kalina photo

Of the 812 applicants who received awards, 107 were nonprofit organizations whose awards totaled $2 million.

The other 705 awardees were small businesses that received a total of $11.9 million.

The county commissioners initially planned to give $4 million to nonprofit organizations and $10 million to businesses in the YoCo Strong Restart Fund, but the board ended up giving direct payments to several nonprofits who would've otherwise applied, so there weren't as many applications for the grants, Schreiber said.

Every nonprofit organization that applied for a grant was awarded funding, he said, and the remaining $2 million that had been set aside for them was redirected to the small business applicants.

The maximum grant award was $35,000. Information about specific award amounts and recipients won't be available until all recipients are notified and their information verified, said YCEA spokesperson Katie Mahoney.

In the event a winning applicant is found to be ineligible during the process of finalizing the awards, or if the applicant chooses not to accept the grant, those monies will be reallocated to another business or organization that applied but did not receive any funds initially, Schreiber said.

York County Economic Alliance President and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Schreiber and Downtown Inc CEO Silas Chamberlin, right, talk with the media during a press conference at PeoplesBank Park announcing an alliance between the two organizations Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. Bill Kalina photo

To qualify, businesses and organizations had to have less than $3 million in gross revenue, and restaurants had to have fewer than 75 full-time equivalent employees.

Of the businesses that received grants, 39% are owned by persons of color, and 45% are considered to be in a "vulnerable industry," such as restaurants, retail stores and tourism and hospitality.

The national, state and local economies have all been hit hard by the secondary effects of COVID-19 mitigation orders, such as business closures and indoor capacity limits.

In a study published in May, the YCEA found that up to 30% of York County businesses could permanently close.

But the economy appears to be slowly improving. The national unemployment rate for September was 7.9%, the lowest level since the April rate of 14.7% at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In Pennsylvania, the preliminary numbers for August show an unemployment rate of 10.3%, down from a high of 16.1% in April, according to the BLS.

More:Study: 30% of York County businesses could fail in coronavirus fallout

More:York County OKs allotment plan for $14 million in CARES Act cash