Grove City offering second round of grants to help businesses offset COVID-related expenses

Alan Froman
ThisWeek group

The city of Grove City will distribute a second round of grants to small businesses that have incurred expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of $100,000 in funds will be available to local businesses through the city's Small Business Working Capital Grant Program.

Grove City Hall

The program provides up to $2,500 to help businesses offset operational costs associated with reopening or reestablishing their operations.

Forty businesses received grants after applying for the first round of funding in September, Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage said.

Brick-and-mortar businesses that employ no more than 25 people are eligible to apply.

The intent with the second round is to prioritize assisting first-time applicants, Stage said.

"We want to help as many of our businesses as we can," he said.

The city's development department administers the grant program, Stage said. The application deadline for the second round is Nov. 10, he said.

The grants are provided from the city’s allocation of funds received through the Coronavirus Aid Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 27.

The city received an additional  $1,957,617 in CARES Act funds in October, after an initial allocation of $901,205 in June.

City officials were scheduled to meet in a combined session of City Council's finance, safety and service committees Oct. 26 to discuss additional ways the CARES Act funding might be distributed.

"All of the money we have received has to be used by Nov. 30, or it goes back to the county, then to the state and ultimately back to the federal treasury," Stage said.

In addition to the grant program, the city has used CARES Act funding to purchase software that allows its building inspectors to complete their inspection work remotely rather than in person; provide temperature-screening kiosks for the Grove City Library; and provide Lifecare Alliance with $25,000 to support its On-the-Go meal program, he said.

City Council on Oct. 5 authorized appropriations of about $500,000 in CARES Act funds for the South-Western City Schools and $11,000 for the Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce.

The district will use the money to purchase about 1,800 Chromebook laptop computers that mostly will be used to supplement the devices students are using under South-Western's hybrid learning model or Virtual Learning Academy, treasurer/chief financial officer Hugh Garside said.

"The laptops we've provided to students may break down or need to be replaced, and purchasing these additional units will give us the backup we need to do that," he said. "When the city approached us to let us know this money was available for us to use, it was a godsend. This was what we felt was the best use of these funds to help our students."

Once the pandemic is over, the additional laptops will help South-Western work toward an ultimate goal of providing every student with a laptop to use, Garside said.

"Most districts are working toward accomplishing a 1:1 initiative" in which every student is provided a laptop, he said.

Even in normal times, South-Western's program increasingly is involving students participating in learning activities at home to supplement and support classroom lessons, Garside said.

The chamber will use its funding to help cover additional costs resulting from its annual Arts in the Alley festival being held as a virtual event, Stage said.

The city plans to offer CARES Act funding to the Little Theatre Off Broadway, which has had to cancel its planned slate of shows during the pandemic, he said. 

"We've also offered Jackson Township some additional money if they have run out of their own CARES Act funds," Stage said.

CARES Act funds may be used only to cover COVID-related expenses and not loss of revenue due to the pandemic, he said.

"From our standpoint, it would have been more beneficial if we could have used the money to help support the loss of revenue," Stage said. "We're not able to use funds ourselves to help offset our loss of revenue.

"We are appreciative of having this money even with those limitations to provide assistance to help our community during the pandemic," he said.

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