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Small businesses have nothing to lose, plenty to gain by seeking grants

At Monday’s special meeting of the Mifflin County Commissioners, a statewide program aimed at helping small businesses recover from the COVID-19 shutdown was revealed.

We would like to join the commissioners in throwing our support behind local small businesses doing whatever is necessary to get a piece of the federal CARES Act pie given to Pennsylvania that will be distributed through the Small Business Grant Program.

The one caveat is action is needed urgently. Tuesday was the first in a window of 10 business days to apply, making July 13 the last day to apply for this first round of funding.

Needless to say, when a lot of places weren’t even allowed to be open for more than two months, that had a devastating effect on the local economy. It not only was the obvious impact on the businesses forced to close because they were not deemed “life-sustaining” by Gov. Tom Wolf — a misnomer because all businesses are “life-sustaining” to the people whose livelihoods depend upon them — but also on those businesses that stayed open. Fewer people with disposable income meant fewer people spending at the select local businesses that remained open, which meant less money for those businesses and their employees to spend at other local businesses.

News operations like ours have been far from immune from the downturn. Even though we were allowed to stay in business during the shutdown, things haven’t been as they were. Simply, if businesses aren’t allowed to be open, there’s not much reason for those businesses to buy an ad in the local paper, which means we feel the pinch like everyone else.

The point we’re trying to make is the old saying is true about a high tide raising all boats. Unfortunately, that means the opposite is true about a “low tide,” in this case the virus-related economic downturn.

Which brings us to why we urge our eligible local small businesses to take advantage of the small window to apply for this funding. There is plenty to gain — potentially as much as $50,000 for businesses with no more than 25 full-time employees (or the equivalent in part-time and full-time workers) that incurred losses between March 1 and May 31.

The only thing it costs businesses to apply is the time it takes to fill out an application at www.pabusinessgrants.com and potentially seek assistance from either the Juniata River Valley Chamber of Commerce or the Mifflin County Industrial Development Corporation. It really is a risk-free chance at revenue that most businesses could desperately use.

We urge anyone with an qualifying small business to make an effort to get these grants.

The more local businesses that get much-needed funding to help them recover and thrive, the faster our economy will bounce back and the better off everyone in the region will be.

We’re rooting for local businesses to receive some of this money because we’d love nothing more than for this to be the first step toward making a robust local economy our true “new normal.”

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