New Round of Funding Coming for Mahoning County Virus Relief

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – With money provided by the federal coronavirus relief bill passed in the spring, Mahoning County has provided 132 businesses with grants to keep them afloat during the pandemic.

The grant program is administered by Valley Economic Development Partners and its executive director, Teresa Miller, updated the county commissioners on the program’s status at a meeting Thursday.

So far, the commissioners have allocated $2.7 million and through the first two phases, $1.5 million has been awarded. All grants, Miller says, are capped at $10,000.

“It’s not so much about the smaller dollar amount, but it’s about targeting smaller businesses,” she says. “They may be the ones that are falling under the radar and missing out on the larger Cares Act funding,” such as the Paycheck Protection Program. 

Valley Economic Development Partners, formerly Mahoning Valley Economic Development Corp., is waiting to receive the remaining funding before it begins the third phase of the grant program. In the newest round, businesses that have annual sales of up to $1.5 million and employ fewer than 50 people are eligible. Funds can be spent on salaries and wages, unemployment costs, “materials and supplies related to interruption of business caused by closure orders,” personal protective equipment and other COVID-19-related expenses.

In addition, if a business has seen a 35% or greater loss in revenue during March, April, May and June when compared to the same period of 2019, the funds can be used for mortgage, rent or lease costs and utility expenses.

“We saw a lot of applications between that $1 million and $2 million mark, so we bumped it up because we want to get this to as many Mahoning County businesses as we could. Increasing that cap opens the door for more businesses to apply,” Miller says.

The small businesses receiving funding cover all areas of commerce, from hotels to restaurants to automotive repair shops. Ensuring that businesses that only employ a handful – or if the owner is the sole employee – are getting the help they need ensures that in a post-pandemic world, the Valley’s economy can continue growing.

“Not only are they entertainment places or restaurants or salons that are important to people, but some of these are self-employed people working to keep themselves afloat and maybe have a couple of employees,” Miller says. “It’s not just about keeping businesses open, but about keeping all those people employed. That will help the entire economy get as close to normal as we can get rather than having a company shut their doors and creating another unemployment situation for a person in the community.”

The agency is also working on creating a similar grant program for Trumbull County businesses, although that process is not far enough along to discuss details, Miller said.

Application forms for the grants are available HERE. For more information, contact Valley Economic Development Partners at 330 759 3668 or ValleyEDP.com.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.