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Small business owners find financial relief close to home

The Small Business Assistance Fund offers grants to businesses in Wyoming, Susquehanna, and Bradford Counties.

MONTROSE, Pa. — For many small businesses in our area, the stay-at-home order has hit especially hard.

A community effort involving three counties is helping business owners find relief right in their own backyards.

Twyla Puterbaugh of Montrose has been selling gifts and accessories at her store, "From the Heart," for 14 years. 

"It was lonely like thinking about, you know, there's just a few shops in town, and we were just really trying to push to come together over the last couple years to bring more business into town, and then this happened," said Puterbaugh.

While her store is closed during the coronavirus pandemic, selling and advertising some of her merchandise through Facebook has kept her business alive. But she's just been thrown another lifeline. 

"We want to help the people that help our community all the time," said Cindy Beeman.

Beeman is the Executive Director of Susquehanna County Interfaith. It's one of several organizations that is helping to coordinate the Small Business Assistance Fund.

The program offers $1,500 grants to businesses with 2 to 20 employees in Susquehanna, Wyoming, and Bradford Counties.

Business owners have been trying to get help in any way they can, including through federal and state programs. But seeking help from their own neighbors is making the process a little bit easier.

"It was so quick and easy. The application took like two minutes, and I've already heard back from them that I've been accepted. I did apply for the emergency disaster loan, but I have heard nothing yet," said Puterbaugh.

"I think there's an excitement to stay right in the community and maybe a little relief too to say, these are people that know what we're talking about and know us a little more personally," said Beeman.

There's a limited amount of money. The first round of grants was largely funded by a donation from Cabot Oil and Gas. 

Companies that wish to donate to the fund can do so through the online donation form or by mailing your contribution directly to:

CCM at Commonwealth Charitable Management,
Attn: Small Business Assistance Fund,
270 Lake Avenue, Montrose, PA 18801

But as Cindy Beeman and Twyla Puterbaugh will tell you, knowing your neighbor has your back is something you can't put a price on.

"Together, we're stronger," said Beeman.