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Centre County businesses get $354,992 in COVID relief

BELLEFONTE — Centre County hospitality businesses have received another $354,992 in the second round of the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP), the county commissioners reported Tuesday.

In the first round, Centre County businesses received $1.4 million in CHIRP grants, with 67 of the 69 businesses applying for the money receiving grants.

To be eligible for the first round of grants, hospitality businesses must have shown a reduction in gross receipts of at least 25 percent from 2019 to 2020. Grants were awarded to eligible businesses based on a calculation of expenses including payroll, rent or mortgage and utilities, minus any previous COVID relief grant or loan amount already used for the same expenses, such as the Paycheck Protection Program.

Then came the second round.

“In this second round, we have exhausted all of our money. (We’re) one of the first three counties in the SEDA-COG region to do so,” Higgins explained. “Obviously, that’s the goal. You don’t want to send any of this money back to the state of Pennsylvania.”

According to Higgins there were “roughly 37 applications.” Around “three or four” didn’t meet the requirements of the grant.

“We ran out of money on the 17th recipient … first come, first serve really does mean first come, first serve,” Higgins said.

Chair Michael Pipe said that it was important to let business owners know that all the money has been allocated.

Between both grants, a total of 84 companies received funds.

“That was the goal,” said Higgins, who said he personally visited more than 120 businesses in the Centre County area.

Now, there’s the RRF — or the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which was funded by the American Rescue Plan.

“This appears to be one of the best small business grants — ever,” Higgins said.

To apply, business owners should visit www.sba.gov/restaurants.

“I spent most of the day Thursday, Friday and Saturday personally visiting 156 restaurants, bars, coffee shops, etc … I emailed and Facebook messaged dozens more,” Higgins said.

The RFF has more than $28 billion for businesses.

“But the money will go very quickly,” Higgins said.

In other business, Tuesday, the commissioners:

— Issued Proclamation No. 13 of 2021, which proclaimed Mental Health Awareness Month in Centre County.

— Issued Proclamation No. 14 of 2021, which proclaimed May 2021 as Foster Care Awareness Month in Centre County.

— Approved contract renewal with the Center for Alternatives in Community Justice (CACJ). The contract includes the pre-trial release program ($136,086), Youth Aid Panel ($2,500) and Mediation Custody Court Program. The CACJ is requesting that time spent in court and travel expense be paid ($3,969). The pre-trial release program is funded equally by the Court and Correctional Facility ($68,043). The contract total is $142,555 for the period of Jan. 1, 2021 through Dec. 31, 2021. The item was moved to next week’s consent agenda.

— Approved the acquisition of four vehicles for the county business fleet, each being replacement vehicles. The purchase of these vehicles will be

provided as a Penn State In-Kind Service in the total all-inclusive amount of $39,160. That item was also moved to next week’s consent agenda.

— Approved PEMA Directive 2019-02 Attachment 3A County Agreement with the Eagle Hazardous Materials Team to affirm county sponsorship as required for Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) recertification. That item was also moved to next week’s consent agenda.

— Approved Resolution No. 8 of 2021, which adopts the Centre County 2021 Hazard Mitigation Plan. The resolution was moved to next week’s consent agenda.

The commissioners will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, May 11. The meeting will be held via Zoom and available through the Centre County government’s website. The meeting will also be televised live by C-NET.

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