Within weeks of the first “stay at home” orders, it became obvious that small businesses would suffer greatly, especially as the shutdowns were extended. At Cabot, we worked with several agencies in Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains region to create the Small Business Assistance Fund, through which companies with two to 20 employees could apply for grants of up to $1,500.
“Once the pandemic started and our small businesses were ordered to close, a group came together to figure out a way to help,” said Melissa Turlip, Director of Programming for Commonwealth Charitable Management, which helped administer the program with Interfaith of Susquehanna and Wyoming Counties, Trehab, the Central Bradford Progress Authority, and the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce.
With several rounds of online applications and reviews by a board representing each of the agencies, $218,100 in grants were distributed to 162 businesses in the three-county area. The funds could be used for utilities, taxes, rent or mortgage and other expenses incurred by businesses during the shutdown.
“The overall concept was to provide them with a little bit of money so they could hold over until other relief was available,” said Dennis Phelps, Executive Director at Trehab.
“The historic level of need was apparent, with a wide-range of businesses requesting assistance,” noted T Thompson, Progress Authority Vice President of Economic Development. “From restaurants and bars to salon owners and chiropractors, the negative impact of COVID on sales has been staggering.”
Cabot’s start-up contribution of $100,000 was matched by the community, with the Sordoni Family Foundation cited as another significant donor by Turlip. “One hundred percent of the donations received were distributed back into the community in the form of business grants,” she remarked.
“Although the amount of the grants won’t rectify all the issues facing the business owners, its effectiveness can be measured by the heartfelt ‘thank you’s’ we received from the owners,” said Thompson.
We are committed to assisting Pennsylvania communities in need and will continue to contribute and collaborate with our philanthropic partners and the agencies that help shape the local economy. We urge you to be aware of the needs in your own community and share your time and resources as we look to brighter days on the horizon.