On February 5, 2021 Governor Wolf signed into law legislation (Act 1 of 2021) that set aside $145 million in funds to aid hospitality industry businesses most adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. For Luzerne County, $3,595,181 in competitive funding is available to Luzerne County hospitality businesses and to cover costs of operating the program.
Act 1 of 2021 requires that counties establish grant programs for eligible businesses through a Certified Economic Development Organization (CEDO) or Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). Luzerne County has approved CAN DO, Inc. and Greater Wilkes Barre Industrial Fund, the designated CEDO’s for Luzerne County, to administer this grant program. A significant portion of the eligibility criteria and requirements of this program are dictated by what was included in the law and the requirements set forth in the Fiscal Code.
It is anticipated that the Luzerne County online application portal will be open from March 15th to April 5th. Luzerne County based private (not publicly traded) for-profit entities that were in operation as of February 15, 2020 and have a NAICS designation of 721 or 722 are eligible to apply. Entities must have sustained a minimum quarterly revenue loss of 25% or greater in any quarter when comparing between 2019-2020. Businesses must have fewer than 300 employees and a maximum tangible net worth of no more than $15 million. Passive businesses, such as commercial and residential landlords, are ineligible to apply. Available funds are limited, and high demand is anticipated. An eligible business may only apply once for the grant program and may only receive funding from one county.
“I am proud to partner with the Greater Wilkes-Barre Industrial Fund and CAN DO to provide much needed relief to Luzerne County businesses that were impacted most severely by this pandemic” said County Manager David Pedri. “Helping to stabilize these local businesses who are such a vital part of our communities until the pandemic subsides is a top priority for me as Luzerne County Manager.”
Funds can be used for eligible operating expenses including payroll and non-payroll expenses that is both ordinary and necessary. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in an eligible applicant’s industry. A necessary expense is one that is helpful and appropriate for an eligible applicant’s trade or business. For the purpose of determining an eligible operating expense, the following limitation shall apply: the operating expense must have been incurred between March 1, 2020 and June 15, 2021 or prior to submission of an application, whichever occurs first; mortgage obligation, rent and utility costs must have been in forced before February 15, 2020. Examples of eligible operating expenses include, but are not limited to, rent, mortgage, supplies, inventory and other operating expenses (which can include costs associated with public health related retrofit) needed to help the entity serve or produce goods relevant in today’s economy. Grant awards may not be used to pay the same eligible operating expenses for which an eligible business received payment, reimbursement, or loan forgiveness from the CARES Act of 2020, Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, or the COVID-19 Emergency Supplement to the General Appropriations Act of 2019. Receipt of a prior Federal Government or Commonwealth grant does not disqualify an applicant.
CAN DO Business Development Specialist Mark Minnig said, “CAN DO is honored and excited for this opportunity to serve the hospitality businesses throughout Luzerne County. CAN DO has been assisting businesses throughout the pandemic with applying for grant and loan programs like this. We are ready to do everything we can to help the hospitality businesses throughout Luzerne County get the funding they need to continue running their operations.”
“COVID-19 has affected every segment and every facet of business, but certainly amongst the hardest hit is our hospitality sector. It has disproportionately impacted them in lost revenues, a furloughed workforce with lost wages, added expense and supply constraints due to safety restrictions and protocols, and crimped demand with their customer base. In addition, recovery will likely take longer than other industries, and will vary across segments. The $3.5 million County COVID 19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program is crucial in providing much needed funding to the hospitality sector and the Chamber and CAN DO are in lockstep with the County in getting these recovery grants to this critical and most vulnerable business sector,” said Greater Wyoming Valley Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, Wico van Genderen.
The Luzerne County Chambers of Commerce, Certified Economic Development Organizations, and Small Business Development Centers will host two virtual information sessions in English and Spanish next week. Details for how to sign up will be announced shortly.