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Pennsylvania’s Grant Program for Hospitality Businesses Opens

By Nicole Radzievich Mertz on March 15, 2021

Lehigh Valley hotels, bars and restaurants can begin applying for up to $10,000 in state grants aimed at helping hospitality businesses, among the hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program, businesses will have to show, among other requirements, that they were operating before the pandemic hit, experienced significant reductions in revenue, have fewer than 300 employees and intend to stay open once the pandemic is over.

Applications for the grants opened March 15 and will close June 15.

Chris Hudock, director of Rising Tide Community Loan Fund, which is administering the program for Lehigh and Northampton counties, said it will take some time to review the applications because of the state requirements.

“It’s hard for us to expect businesses to be patient right now because they’ve waited so long already, but the way this is written is that we can’t begin funding right away because of the priority classification,” Hudock said.

Priority will be given to businesses that did not receive prior government funding through the CARES Act, were subject to the state’s closure and can show gross revenue declined by 50% from 2019 to 2020. Grants will go to all business that meet the criteria, provided money is still available.

Pennsylvania allocated $145 million to the counties based on population. Lehigh County received $4,183,030 and Northampton $3,457,769.

The state law allows grants of between $5,000 and $50,000 per business, but the Lehigh Valley program is capping the grants at $10,000 so more businesses could take advantage of the program, Hudock said.

The law allows a $500 application fee, but Rising Tide will only charge the fee to those that are completed, reviewed and funded so that more awards will be available.

Hudock estimated about 720 businesses will receive grants.

Lehigh Valley’s Accommodation and Food Service industrial sector employed 19,645 people and had 1,462 establishments in the third quarter 2020, according to preliminary data published in the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. In 2019 there were 26,015 employees and 1,430 establishments.

That industry made up about 8% of the employment in 2019 in Lehigh and Northampton counties and 3.4% of the metropolitan region’s $43.3 billion private-sector gross domestic product.

Jaime Whalen, Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff, applauded the program for targeting one of the hardest hit industrial sectors during the pandemic.

“While hospitality businesses are not among the Lehigh Valley’s largest employers, they play a critical role in the economy. They support the region’s rich quality of life,” Whalen said. “Our vibrant community is what attracts and continues to attract both talent and businesses to Lehigh Valley. We all benefit from a strong hospitality industry.”

For additional information about the grant program, visit LVEDC’s Financing Programs for Business web page.

Eligibility:

To be eligible, businesses must:

  • Have an industry classification NAICS code 721: Accommodation or NAICS code 722: Food Services and Drinking Places (as stated on a tax return) and be located in Northampton or Lehigh counties.
  • Have been in operation on February 15, 2020, remain in operation, and not intend to permanently cease operations within one year of the date of application,
  • Have experienced a reduction in revenue of at least a 25% in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020,
  • Have fewer than 300 full-time equivalent employees,
  • Have had an adverse economic impact due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and
  • Have a maximum tangible net worth of not more than $15 million for a business is not publicly traded.

Priority will be given to businesses that:

  • Have not received a loan or grant issued under the authority of the Commonwealth or the Commonwealth’s political subdivisions or by the Federal Government under the CARES Act or Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021,
  • Have not received a loan or grant issued under the authority of the Commonwealth or by the Federal Government under the CARES Act,
  • Were subject to closure by the proclamation of disaster emergency issued by the governor on March 6, 2020, and any renewal of the state of disaster emergency, and
  • Can demonstrate a reduction in revenue in gross receipts of 50% between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020.

For more information, visit the Rising Tide Loan Fund website.

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