Lisa Riggs and Lyle Hosler, president and vice president of the Economic Development Co. of Lancaster County, discuss the Hospitality Industry Recovery Program during a county commissioners' work session on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021. (Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)
Lisa Riggs and Lyle Hosler, president and vice president of the Economic Development Co. of Lancaster County, discuss the Hospitality Industry Recovery Program during a county commissioners' work session on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021. (Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)

Beginning March 8, local hospitality businesses — hotels, motels, restaurants, bars and caterers, among others — will be able to apply for Covid-19 relief grants of up to $50,000, under a program awaiting approval from the Lancaster County commissioners.

The grants come from state funds appropriated under a $912 million relief package Gov. Tom Wolf signed at the beginning of the month. Counties are receiving money based on their population: Lancaster County's share is $6.18 million.

The EDC Finance Corp. an affiliate of the Economic Development Co. of Lancaster County, is setting up and running the local program on the county's behalf. EDC President Lisa Riggs and Vice President Lyle Hosler briefed the county commissioners on the plans at the commissioners' Tuesday work session. The commissioners are expected to vote Wednesday on authorizing the program.

Most of the program's parameters were spelled out in the enabling legislation, Riggs said. In areas where counties had some leeway, EDC Finance consulted with its counterparts elsewhere to determine the best approach, she said.

The hospitality industry was particularly hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic and by Gov. Tom Wolf's business closure orders. The state's relief law was tailored accordingly. To receive aid, companies must fall within one of two North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Codes: 721 (Accommodation) or 722 (Food Services & Drinking Places).

Lancaster County Hospitality Industry Recovery Program

Grant award amounts

No. of employees Max grant
1-20 $30,000
21-99 $40,000
100-300 $50,000

Source: EDC Finance Corp., Economic Development Co. of Lancaster County

Applicants may have no more than 300 employees and a net worth of less than $15 million. They must demonstrate a loss of at least 25% on an annual or quarter-by-quarter basis compared with 2020. Applications must be complete, and will be ranked based on size, level of need and other factors.

Grants will range from $5,000 to $50,000, in increments of $5,000 and may be used for "ordinary and necessary" expenses, including payroll, rent, utilities, supplies and Covid-19 retrofits. Recipients of previous federal or state aid remain eligible. EDC Finance has set caps of $30,000 and $40,000 for smaller businesses, reserving grants above $40,000 for businesses with 100 employees or more.

EDC Finance will post detailed information at RecoveryLancaster.com, the website used for the county's previous Covid-19 business relief efforts. The material will be available later this month.

An online application portal will open at RecoveryLancaster.com on March 8. Initially, EDC Finance will accept applications for two weeks, through March 19. Any extension after that will depend on whether there are funds left to allocate, Riggs and Hosler said.

The state law provides for EDC Finance to be paid $500 for each grant it awards.

By the numbers: Lancaster County Hospitality Industry Recovery Program

Funding available: $6.18 million

Eligible recipients:

NAICS Code Description No. of Businesses No. of Employees
721 Hotels, motels & other accommodations 150 3,400
722 Bars, restaurants, caterers etc. 900 17,000

Source: EDC Finance Corp., Economic Development Co. of Lancaster County. Numbers in table are approximate.

Tim Stuhldreher