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Money coming to help small businesses struggling through the pandemic

An agency based in Luzerne County was granted $4 million from the state to help small businesses struggling because of the pandemic.

LUZERNE COUNTY, Pa. — If you are a small business owner based in one of seven counties, there could be help available to you from NEPA Alliance, based in Pittston Township. It is a regional community and economic development agency.

The agency serves Carbon, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Schuylkill, and Wayne Counties.

"Grant programs for government contracting assistance, small business lending, many different programs to help the community," explained CEO Jeffrey Box.

The agency received a special announcement this week.

"We applied for a grant from the Department of Community Economic Development (DCED). It was passed down through HUD. We applied for $4 million in November. We received notification that we were awarded that. The money will be utilized for small businesses for grants up to $50,000 in our seven-county region," said Steve Ursich, vice president of business development strategies.

"We have a number of economic development partners that are involved in this project as well. The Small Business Development Centers from Wilkes University and from the University of Scranton, as well as our economic development partners at the chambers," Box said.

Ursich says many small businesses desperately need financial help.

"Between the coronavirus, the restrictions cost of raw materials going up, as well as difficulty getting labor at this point, they just keep getting hit over and over, and there's just a huge demand at this point."

This will be open to small businesses with 100 or fewer employees. Then there's a separate category for businesses with five or fewer employees including the owner, but it will be a little while until you can apply for help.

"Our hope is that sometime in March, it will open this. We're thinking about a month to get it pulled together, get a platform that the applications can pass through and the process down," Ursich said.

Nepa Alliance says stay tuned for more information if your small business could use some help.

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