A new COVID-19 relief grant named the Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP) for eligible hospitality industry businesses opens for applications March 15, 2021.

Eligible hospitality industry businesses include hotels, restaurants, bars, and taverns. These businesses must fall within eligible industry codes which include the Accommodations subsector (721) or Food Services and Drinking Places subsector (722).

The Juniata County Commissioners are urging these types of businesses to apply as soon as possible for the CHIRP grant since funds may be quickly exhausted. Grants will range from $5,000 to $50,000 to help alleviate 2020 revenue losses, and pay for eligible operating expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Businesses can apply at the Community Giving Foundation’s website at www.csgiving.org from March 15, 2021 until the funds are exhausted or June 15, 2021.

The County Commissioners are concerned that due to nearly a year of this pandemic, many businesses are still feeling the sting of lost revenue, especially those in the hospitality industry.

“We ask those in our county to take advantage of this opportunity as quickly as possible,” the Commissioners said.

Juniata County has been awarded $280,475 and has contracted with SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG) to manage this CHIRP grant on its behalf. SEDA-COG will receive the applications, determine eligibility for grant amounts, and disburse the funds to qualifying businesses.

Mike Fisher, SEDA-COG assistant executive director, said SEDA-COG is honored to partner with several counties on this effort to help their local hospitality industries.

“We are honored to be able to further assist counties in this way. We know that the economic effects of the pandemic have crippled the local hospitality industry, so we trust this will alleviate some of that pain. This pandemic has left gaping holes of need and we want to be a part of helping communities and businesses meet those needs,” Fisher said.

Eligibility includes, but is not limited to, having fewer than 300 full-time employees; a net worth that does not exceed $15 million; a 25% reduction in gross receipts for a quarter in 2020 compared to the same quarter in 2019; and be located within Centre, Clinton, Columbia, Juniata, Lycoming, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder, or Union counties.

Additional priority will be given to businesses that did not already receive COVID-19 relief funds; that were subject to closure following the disaster emergency declared by Gov. Tom Wolf on March 6, 2020; or had more than a 50% reduction in gross receipts from March 31, 2020 to December 31, 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019. For a full listing of eligibility requirements and prioritization guidelines, visit www.csgiving.org.

The grant program was created from the law Act 1 of 2021, which was passed Feb. 5, 2021. Statewide, it provides $145 million in funding assistance to the hospitality industry businesses adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information, contact SEDA-COG Grants Manager Betsy Lockwood at 570-522-7265 or elockwood@seda-cog.org.

As a community and economic development agency, SEDA-COG enhances the quality of life and economic advantage for residents and businesses in 11 central Pennsylvania counties through its vital partnerships and initiatives. SEDA-COG also is an advocate for the interests of communities at the state and federal levels. For more information, visit www.seda-cog.org.