Businesses get relief from pandemic’s pain through grants, loans
Businesses struggling to get back on their feet from the vicious punch of the coronavirus are grateful to have received local funding for their operations.
The second round of dollars from the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Relief Fund will partially be provided by Lycoming County following a Tuesday vote by the county commissioners.
The first round resulted in 89 of 93 businesses that applied for funding receiving grants and/or loans this week.
Among those businesses were Le Chocolat and Dewald Chiropractic.
“Every little bit helps,” said Bernie Katz, who owns and operates the candy store with his wife Bonnie, at 420 Pine St., Williamsport.
The money his store received will help cover the loss of Easter candy sales. COVID-19, he noted, simply wiped out what is usually one of the store’s biggest revenue producers.
“The candy came in before the virus hit. Then we shut down March 15,” he said.
It wasn’t until well into May before the shop reopened.
“Easter is our second biggest holiday, so we lost many thousands of sales,” he said.
The good news, Katz said, is that business has been slowly picking up, even though many people remain reluctant to get out and shop. Summer can be slow anyway, he added.
“We are optimistic,” he said. “It (business) will come back.”
Some of the biggest sales times for the store include First Fridays and Little League World Series week in August.
First Fridays in downtown Williamsport remain for now on hold, while Little League has been cancelled.
“Those are numerous losses that affect your business,” he said. “We’ll be good. We’ll be fine.”
Katz said he feels particularly bad for restaurant owners, who are operating for now at 50 percent capacity under Wolf’s guidelines for counties in the green phase, including Lycoming and Tioga counties.
Lily Shaffer, office manager at DeWald Chiropractic, 1355 Four Mile Drive, Williamsport, said the money from the relief fund will be very helpful. The business never actually shut down, but certainly has felt the impact from the coronavirus.
“We are so grateful for the grant we received from the Chamber. We will be using this money to help grow our practice back to where it was before the pandemic,” Shaffer said. “It is important that we are able to educate and share the message of chiropractic with our community.”
Chamber President Jason Fink said businesses receiving dollars under the second round of funding will share in a pool of $200,000.
Eligible businesses with annual revenues not exceeding $3 million could apply for the money.
Grants cannot exceed $2,000 and loans are limited to $4,000 for each business which must be located in Lycoming County.
Recipients will be announced next month.