The $12.8 million Lebanon County CARES Act settlement is beginning to reach Lebanon County organizations as the Lebanon County Commissioners have approved the first round of grants to support local firms financially impacted by COVID-19.
The funds will end up being a significant chunk of the estimated $100 million flowing to Lebanon County through the federal CARES Act, by way of state sources as well as the Paycheck Protection Program.
202 grants were approved totaling approximately $5.7 million, out of $8.8 million total being sought. 69% of grants were accepted, with the most common denial reason being that the application was not submitted on time, with the remainder of denied applicants not meeting a minimum scoring threshold according to a system established by the grant committee.
How did the scoring system work?
According to a release from the Lebanon County Commissioners:
Applications were received during the Phase One submission timeframe of September 1-15. Applications were then scored up to 80 points by the pre- determined rubric that weighted factors like loss of revenue year-over-year, unbudgeted COVID expenses, number of employees, and receipt of other CARES Act funding. The remaining 20 points were provided by an independent review committee appointed by the commissioners that reviewed the narratives in each application. Total scores were ranked, applicants not deemed eligible were eliminated, and applications scoring 45 points or higher were awarded a grant based on their request or the revenue grant cap – whichever was lower.
Applications will reopen on Oct. 15 for the second round of grants, with about $2.5 million in funding still available. Applicants who applied in round one and did not receive a grant must reapply in round two to be considered.
The average grant awarded in the first round was approximately $28,000. Grants were capped at $50,000, with 57 firms receiving that amount. Of the $50K grant recipients, five (9%) were in tourism/hospitality, 38 (67%) were in the “small business” category, and 14 (25%) were non-profits. Overall breakdown was 11% in tourism/hospitality, 68% in “small business,” and 21% non-profit.
Grant scores ranged from 93.8 to 45.0, with the average being 62.8.
“This funding will support economic recovery and sustainability in our county,” said Commissioner Chairman Bob Phillips in the release. “Our goal is to keep Lebanon County open for business and thriving.”
“We made it a priority help those businesses that were the most vulnerable due to the closures,” said Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz in the release. “I applaud the committee that helped make the process run smoothly.”
“I want to echo my thanks and recognition for the team that put this process together and congratulations on such success,” said Commissioner Bill Ames in the release. “The bottom line is that we are dedicated to ensuring this important work is utilized in the ongoing recovery of our community.”
“To be able to get approval to create the process, open the applications, review all applications, and provide a list of recommended grantees in just over a month is a testament to the teamwork of community leaders including our county commissioners,” said Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO Karen Groh in an email to chamber members.
More information about the grant application process is available at the website LebanonCountyCares.com. Applications for the second round of grants open at 8 a.m. on Oct. 15 and close at 4 p.m. on Oct. 30.
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