Dennis Davin, Secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development, today joined Sen. Judy Schwank, President and CEO of The Greater Reading Chamber Alliance Jim Gerlach, Berks County Commissioner Michael Rivera, and the owners of Mi Casa Su Casa and The Peanut Bar to announce the amount of funding that will be provided to Berks County restaurants through the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP).
“The past year and a half has not been easy on anyone—especially our hospitality industry, which showed real strength and creativity as they dug deep to find ways to keep their doors open to their neighbors and friends during the pandemic,” said Sec. Davin. “However, sometimes more help is needed, and that’s exactly what the CHIRP program was designed to do. I am proud to see the critical funding from CHIRP making its way into the hands of our business owners, and I’m proud of the partnerships we formed to make it all happen quickly and seamlessly.”
Last year, Governor Tom Wolf secured $145 million in funding support businesses adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the commonwealth has worked with counties and economic development partners to quickly send assistance to the hospitality industry.
“COVID-19 materially impacted the lives of every Pennsylvanian, especially the owners of restaurants and bars and the tens of thousands of people they employ,” said Senator Schwank. “I commend the Governor and his team for making the difficult decisions needed to keep Pennsylvanians safe during the pandemic and for recognizing the need to quickly provide meaningful financial assistance to help businesses recover. These state grant funds have provided the crucial lifeline that these small, family-owned businesses in Reading and Berks County and around the commonwealth need to emerge from this public health crisis ready to once again grow as our economy reopens.”
Counties are administering the funding through one or more designated Community Economic Development Organizations (CEDO) or Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI), which began processing applications from businesses in each county on March 15. Funding must be provided to businesses by July 15, 2021.
“The county is honored to help get these critical funds out to our local business owners,” said Berks County Commissioner Michael Rivera. “Our hospitality industry is a large part of what makes Berks County thrive, and after the past year of so many uncertainties, these grants will provide a much-needed boost to help them get back to normal operations.”
The Greater Berks Development Fund, the CEDO appointed by the Berks County Commissioners to administer the program, received more than 200 applications and has disbursed more than $4.2 million of the county’s $4.7 million in available funding to date.
“The Greater Berks Development Fund, with the full support of the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance, oversaw the local CHIRP application process and we were pleased that so many Berks County businesses were able to be recipients of the grant program,” said Debra L. Millman, President of Greater Berks Development Fund and Vice President of Greater Reading Chamber Alliance.
Under the program, Mi Casa Su Casa received $15,000 and The Peanut Bar received $35,000. Both businesses will use the funds to cover financial obligations incurred as a result of the pandemic.