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Two Programs Announced to Support Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

By Colin McEvoy on July 21, 2020

Two new programs have been recently introduced to assist companies that have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

One of them is the COVID-19 Hazard Pay Grant, a program established by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) to provide employers with hazard pay funding that can help them retain employees in life-sustaining occupations.

The grant is intended to keep front-line employees working in sectors vital to every Pennsylvanians’ existence, according to the state. It is available for employers who will be offering hazard pay over the eligible program period.

“In the fight against COVID-19, our front-line workers have put themselves at risk every day in order to continue to provide life-sustaining services to their fellow Pennsylvanians, and this funding will increase their pay in recognition of those sacrifices,” Governor Tom Wolf said. “These grants will help businesses retain employees, ensure that Pennsylvanians keep working and avoid disruption of critical goods and services.”

Businesses are encouraged to apply by submitting an application to the state using the Electronic Single Application. Applications will be accepted from July 16 to July 31. Visit here for more information, or contact DCED Customer Service at 866-466-3972 or via email at [email protected].

Applications will be evaluated based upon a specific set of criteria, including risk of exposure by industry, location and prevalence of COVID-19, and average hourly wage paid by employer, according to the state.

In addition to the state program, Northampton County has allocated $4 million in federal CARES Act funding to establish a COVID-19 Relief Small Business Grant Program for businesses primarily operating in the county that have fewer than 100 employees.

Eligible businesses may apply for up to $15,000 in grants to cover expenses related to the pandemic. The online application is now live and can be found here and on the website of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, which is administering the program on behalf of the county

“We are in the process of throwing a lifeline to many small businesses and their employees,” said Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure. “Hundreds of businesses will survive and thrive thanks to the Pandemic Protection Plan.”

Funding from the program may be used to cover payroll costs, costs related to continuation of group health care benefits, insurance premiums, mortgage or rent payments, and utility bills, and working capital to cover the costs of reopening businesses that were closed due to the pandemic.

The latter can include specialized equipment, barriers, protective equipment, employee training, and other costs. The grant funding can also be used to cover any COVID-19 expense not already covered by other federal, state, or regional grant and loan programs.

The program is available until the $4 million is depleted. Applications will be reviewed by a committee consisting of the Northampton County administration, Northampton County Council members and the Chamber, which will make recommendations to McClure.

The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) is committed to keeping Lehigh Valley businesses informed about resources and financing programs available during the coronavirus crisis. Visit LVEDC’s dedicated websites about COVID-10 response resources and financing options, or contact LVEDC at 610-266-6775.

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