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Grants to help small businesses in Scranton

Newswatch 16's Rose Itzcovitz shows us two businesses in the Electric City benefiting from the grants.

SCRANTON, Pa. — The City of Scranton wants to give small businesses a boost. It's handing out grants of up to $5,000 to those starting out.

After Tammy Pilger closed her stained glass business during the pandemic, she decided to indulge in her dream.

"I've baked and cooked all my life. My father was a chef."

Pilgers' Pastries in downtown Scranton opened last week. Now, Tammy works side by side with her family.

"It's important, too, that they're a part of this with me," she said. "My husband has supported me through some really crazy things."

Tammy's business is one of the first recipients of a new offer for small businesses just starting out.

"The idea behind the microgrants is basically start-up cash for businesses in low-to-moderate-income areas," said Scranton Mayor Paige Cognetti.

Scranton is awarding anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000 per start-up.

"It can be part of what gets you on your way or not, so we're so excited to be here today on Adams Avenue where both of our microgrant recipients are, brick and mortar, right here," said the mayor.

The city effort is funded by federal grants. The University of Scranton Small Business Development Center (SBDC) helps applicants through the process.

"Starting a business always costs more than people plan for. It's just one of those things," said Lisa Hall Zielinski, with the SBDC.

"We're very fortunate to be here, considering everything that's been going on," said Brandon Pilger, Tammy's son, and Pilgers' Pastries customer service head manager.

The bakery received a grant of $5,000.

Down the street, Electric City Cuts and Fades got the same. Owner Russell Olson opened in March and says the extra money allowed him to upgrade equipment.

"Clients can feel more comfortable in nicer chairs, just an all-around better atmosphere," Olson said.

The city wants to award $50,000 to small businesses. About $10,000 has been given out, so there's still $40,000 left for small businesses to apply and receive.

Find out how to apply here.

The mayor says even if a business doesn't qualify for this microgrant, the city will be releasing its American Rescue Plan entrepreneurship grants shortly – and encourages those that aren't awarded money through this one to stay tuned for more upcoming grants.

Check out WNEP’s YouTube channel.

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