Lawrence County has received requests from 150 local small businesses seeking part of a $3 million grant to offset COVID-19 losses.
The deadline for applications from local small businesses was Friday. The county had allotted $3.25 million for small business applicants, from a CARES Act grant of $7 million.
Commissioner Morgan Boyd said at the commissioners’ meeting Tuesday that the county is processing the applications and will send notices to businesses within a week or two, notifying them of whether they are eligible to receive the funds.
Commissioner Dan Vogler noted that the grant comes from the federal CARES Act as a result of losses that businesses and other entities have suffered from coronavirus.
He pointed out that Gov. Tom Wolf has refused to release $13 million grant funds to Lebanon County, after its board of commissioners resolved to defy Wolf’s COVID-19 restrictions. Lebanon is the only county that has not received the funds.
Calling it a “unique set of circumstances,” Vogler explained that the Lebanon County commissioners as a result have taken the governor to court.
The Lawrence County commissioners, who have strictly adhered to COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the governor and the Administrative Offices of the Pennsylvania Courts, said they are appreciative of the funds for the community.
“Fortunately, our dollars were not withheld,” Boyd said.
The commissioners expressed their appreciation to county planning department which has been administering the grant funds and processing all of the business applications.
The county recently hired Alexis Eardley to oversee its grant management.
“The day she was brought in was the day we rolled out the single largest grant program in county history,” Boyd said of the COVID-19 grant.
“And she’s handling it very well, I must say,” Commissioner Loretta Spielvogel said. She commended Eardley for “doing an outstanding job. She’s had to answer numerous phone calls and assist people along the way. She’s definitely an asset to the planning department.”
Boyd pointed out that Lawrence is the first county, outside of the six larger entitlement counties, to roll out its business grant program. He credited county planning director Amy McKinney and her staff for doing the work.