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State approves Blair grant request for $1.38M

Local hotels, bars, restaurants to receive funds

HOLLIDAYSBURG — The state has notified Blair County that it will receive a $1.38 million grant to help local hotels, restaurants and bars offset financial losses linked to COVID-19.

Six days ago, commissioners authorized submission of an application for the state COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program grant that lawmakers authorized with an allocation of $145 million, to be divided among counties, based on population.

During Tuesday’s commissioners meeting, Chairman Bruce Erb announced that the county’s application was approved.

“Why so fast when normally, processes with the state are not so fast?” Erb said. “In my opinion, it’s very late in the game and probably not fast enough.”

Erb said he doesn’t know of any sector of the economy that’s been damaged by the state’s COVID-19 closure mandates more than the hospitality industry.

“Recent statistics indicate Blair County’s hospitality sector has experienced over 20 percent in employment decline numbers in the past year,” Erb said. ‘That’s more than three times the drop of any other industry group.”

Because of the state’s approval, the county is moving forward toward signing a contract with the Altoona-Blair County Development Corp. that will handle grant administration tasks. ABCD Corp., which qualifies under the state’s legislation to handle the grant administration tasks on behalf of the county, is expected to be ready to accept grant applications from local entities by March 15. The state has deemed that grants will range from $5,000 to $50,000.

Program guidelines offered by the governor’s office and posted on the state’s Department of Community Economic Development website indicate that applicants must have been in business on Feb. 20, 2020, and have no plans to permanently cease operations within a year of applying for a grant.

Priority is to be given to applicants who did not previously receive a government loan or grant and to applicants who closed because of the governor’s COVID-19 disaster declaration.

Entities interested in COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program funding should contact Tom Seasoltz at toms@abcdcorp.org to be added to an applicant list.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456.

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