Business owners in the hospitality industry in three Valley counties should take advantage of the third phase of a COVID-19 relief grant funding that is available until mid-June.

June 15 is the deadline for for-profit hospitality businesses in six regional counties — including Montour, Northumberland and Snyder counties — to hit, but the Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP) grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 to help alleviate revenue losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic could be gone sooner.

According to SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG), there is $33,760 available in Montour County, $671,441 in Northumberland and $264,549 in Snyder.

Grant funds have been fully allocated in Union County, where 19 businesses received a combined $502,354.

“These funds can go very quickly, so the grants may be gone before the June 15 deadline,” SEDA-COG Executive Director Kim Wheeler said. “The grants are a direct lifeline to struggling hospitality businesses in our region, so please apply. If you have any questions, we are here to help.”

According to SEDA-COG, eligible hospitality industry businesses must be for-profit businesses which include hotels, bed and breakfasts, restaurants, bars, taverns, catering companies, and food trucks and fall within eligible industry codes.

The funds target smaller businesses and priority will be given to those who haven’t already received COVID relief funds in earlier rounds. “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 in 2020 compared to 2019,” according to SEDA-COG.

According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, in 2020 the pandemic eliminated more than 10 years of job growth in the industry with more than 670,000 hotel industry jobs and 4 million hospitality jobs lost. The AHLA’s State of the Hotel Industry 2021 report estimates the industry won’t make a full recovery until 2024.

With nearly $1 million still available to reduce that time frame, local businesses would be wise to seek help. The last year has been rough on many industries, but especially the hospitality industry.

A handful of restaurants have closed in the Valley and many hotels are still not back to full staff.

As the nation, state and Valley begin to emerge from the pandemic, many people will be anxious to travel, which means dining out and staying in hotels.

These grants will make sure hotels and local B&Bs, along with restaurants and bars are ready for the return of customers in a safe and, we hope, profitable way.

NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by Managing Editor Bill Bowman.

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