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Report: York City COVID-19 relief boosted minority-owned businesses

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Merchants in York City's Royal Square district celebrate Small Business Saturday with freebies and fun to thank customers.

York City doled out $255,000 in grants to a diverse group of businesses owned by city residents as a part of its COVID-19 relief efforts, according to the city's pandemic response report released Thursday.

The 51 businesses included 15 barber shops and 11 food establishments, according to the report. A total of 47% of grants went to Black-owned businesses, while 14% went to Hispanic or Latino-owned businesses.

“We ensured that it was diverse,” said York City Council member Lou Rivera, adding that the program unfortunately wasn’t available to those who live outside the city but own a business within its limits. "I believe it was a good start. It was a really great process."

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The city's data also shows that 59% of the businesses were owned by women.

The grant money was only part of the data included in the report, which details the entirety of the city's COVID-19 response efforts.

The city  supplied $210,000 in rental assistance to Bell Socialization Services' Next Door Program, which helped more than 100 families keep a roof over their heads.

Crispus Attucks Association received $60,000 for rental assistance, while $30,000 in assistance is still pending, according to the report.

WellSpan's second drive-thru coronavirus testing site in York County is open at the York Expo Center, Friday, March 20, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The city also supplied the newly established Spanish American Multicultural Resource Center — which is spearheaded by Rivera — with $5,000 to cover the costs for a part-time employee to provide COVID-19 relief efforts focused on the city's minority community.

In addition, tens of thousands of dollars went to meal deliveries, healthy food access, substance abuse programs and other public services.

“Although we may never be able to fully quantify the thousands of hours of research, education, support and resources that we have provided since the end of February 2020, I think it’s important to highlight the great work that has been done by the City of York,” said Philip Given, acting director of community and economic development.

As of Friday, there were 569 cases of COVID-19 in York City and eight deaths linked to the disease. In the entire county, there were 2,243 cases and 85 deaths.

The city's report also detailed how it responded to COVID-19 cases and compliance with Gov. Tom Wolf's mitigation orders.

As of July 5, the city had conducted 466 COVID-19 case investigations and made more than 1,800 calls to positive patients and the people they may have come into contact with.

The city had also identified 28 outbreaks linked to positive city residents and fielded more than 300 calls to provide followup information.

As for business compliance, city inspectors visited more than 180 businesses to ensure they complied with Wolf's initial business closure orders. No citations were  given out.

“As with any war, once it begins, you never know exactly when it will be over until the enemy surrenders," said York City Mayor Michael Helfrich. "It is obvious this enemy is not surrendering yet, but I am confident that with the leadership and tenacity of York City’s team, York will continue to be a blueprint in how to defeat this disease.”

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.