Over the course of last year's annus horribilis, Northampton County awarded $10.079 million to 766 small businesses struggling to stay afloat amid the ravages of both Covid-19 and a lockdown. This money was courtesy of $27.6 million in CARES Act funding. Now there's a new source of funding - $31 million from the American Rescue Plan. If Executive Lamont McClure has his way, $15 million of that federal windfall will go to the county's small businesses.
In his report to Northampton County Council at their June 3 meeting, McClure said priority will be given to first-time applicants. But he'd also like to see a round of grants to businesses that have already received funding. "There are some previous grantees who are still struggling," he observed.
In addition to the $15 million for small business, McClure will be asking County Council to give their imprimitur to the following additional spending:
$5 million for nonprofits. - "As you know, the nonprofits were hit particularly hard during the pandemic. We didn't have enough CARES Act funding to, in my view, adequately assist the nonprofits.
$1 million for the hotel tax grants. - This will be going to fairs and "other small events that need our assistance."
$1 million for GrowNorCo grants. - This will help local municipalities who wish to fund police departments.
$1 million for broadband. - "We have too many students ... that did not have access sufficient to meet their educational needs."
$7 million rainy day fund. This will be used to fund vaccines, testing, hazard pay and the creation of a PPE surplus.
$1 million for EMS and professional firefighters.