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Deadline today to apply for small business grant

BELLEFONTE — For small businesses in Centre County, it’s deadline day.

Earlier this week, the Centre County Board of Commissioners encouraged local small businesses to apply for the COVID-19 Relief Block Grant program before the application deadline, which is set for 5 p.m. today.

Mary Kay Williams, the county’s relief block grant coordinator, updated the BOC on the program’s progress.

“I have great news,” Williams said, “the applications for the small businesses are coming in.”

According to Williams, a total of 140 applications have been completed. Another 225 are in progress.

“The in progress just means that people are still working. We’re not sure if all 225 will come through. Those numbers bring us to 365,” Williams noted.

The program is allotting $6 million in grants to small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding comes from the $14.7 million in CARES Act money, which was awarded to the county earlier this summer. The program is designed to support businesses, municipalities, non-profits, educational institutions and county expenses associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Williams urged small businesses to apply by today’s deadline.

“Please, please, please apply. You have until this Friday, Sept. 11 at 5 p.m. The process is going very, very well,” Williams said.

Commissioner Mark Higgins said that he’s personally tried to visit most small businesses in Centre County, urging small business owners to apply for the relief block grant.

“At this point we were hoping to get maybe 800 to 1,000 applications and we’re not quite even halfway to the 800 — so please apply. There’s plenty of money available. The commissioners would love to help out all the small businesses in Centre County,” Higgins said.

There are some simple guidelines to apply. To be eligible, a business must have fewer than 100 employees, be headquartered and operating in Centre County and have experienced revenue losses resulting from the pandemic. Grants can be used by small business owners and sole-proprietors for a variety of purposes.

According to Williams, even if a business has already received Paycheck Protection Program funds or other federal grant money, it is still eligible to apply.

“This does not disqualify you at all. It just means you would not be the first batch of checks,” Williams said matter-of-factly.

Williams said that the Penn State Small Business Development Center is assisting in the review and prioritization process and the county commissioners will decide grant awards.

There will be only one application round for small business grants. However, checks will be distributed in batches. Higgins said the first group will be sent out to businesses that did not previously receive CARES Act funding. He said that approved businesses that did would be included in the second batch. Whether a business has previously received CARES Act funding or not, all applications must be submitted by 5 p.m. today.

To apply before today’s 5 p.m. deadline, visit centrecountypa.gov.

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