Erie County Emergency Medical Services Scholarship Fund ($100,000)
Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pennsylvania was facing a potential public safety crisis over the dramatic decline in the number of volunteer first responders, as highlighted by the 2018 SR 6 Commission Final Report. Funds are being used to create a four-year scholarship fund with the Erie Community Foundation that will help pay for EMR, EMT or AEMT Certification, or Paramedic Certification. Eligible applicants include minority individuals, low-income/income qualifying individuals, individuals who have experienced career or academic displacement due to COVID-19, and/or an individual who is currently volunteering or working with an emergency services agency and is looking to advance their career.
COVID-19 Economic Recovery and Growth Fund ($779,500)
To enhance the Erie County Redevelopment Authority’s revolving loan fund (which was maxed out as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic) and provide the resources necessary to assist the many businesses that have been impacted by the pandemic and help jumpstart expansion and growth, funds are being added to the Erie County Redevelopment Authority COVID-19 Economic Recovery and Growth Fund. Funds are being used to assist in the financing of real estate, machinery, and equipment purchases where job creation and retention can be quantified. Recovery loans may also involve refinance lending that is directly tied to costs incurred from the COVID-19 pandemic.
StARTup Grant Program ($250,000)
To assist local entrepreneurs, funds are being added to the Erie County Redevelopment Authority’s existing StARTup Grant Program, which was funded with a $130,000 gift from the original Edinboro University StARTup Incubator. The program is designed to address the diverse nature of new business development.
Diversity Loan Program ($337,500)
Funds are being used to expand the Erie County Redevelopment Authority’s existing Diversity Loan Program, which is designed to assist traditionally underserved, minority businesses, including African American, New Americans and women. Women- and minority-owned businesses, particularly Black-owned businesses, have been disproportionately hurt by the COVID-19 crisis. The increase in the size of the fund is allowing for larger loan options and an overall expansion of the program, including providing technical assistance services in partnership with Erie’s Black Wallstreet and other community partners.
New Small Business Grant Program ($150,000)
The Erie County Redevelopment Authority’s New Small Business Grant Program is designed to provide necessary relief to new Erie County small businesses established on or after January 1, 2020 that have been negatively impacted by the effects of COVID-19. Grants of $5,000 – $10,000 are being provided to assist in ensuring the survival and stability of these crucial businesses.
Erie County Fire/EMS Operational Support & Transformative Grant Programs ($1,100,000)
Administered by the Erie County Department of Public Safety in partnership with the Erie County Firefighters Association, and Erie Area Council of Governments, the goals of these grant programs are to provide general operating support, as well as transformative grants that will incentivize: (1) development of merger/collaboration plans or strategies to improve service coverage, (2) training and education, (3) recruitment/ pipeline development, and (4) retention strategies, including wage subsidies. The program is open to the 31 volunteer fire departments and five emergency medical services agencies located or operating in Erie County.
Building a Better Future Transformative Grant Program ($4,000,000)
To support, empower, and advance the countywide nonprofit sector, and respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency and its negative economic impacts, the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority is creating and administering the Transformative Grant Program.
Lead Assets Grant Program ($1,000,000)
Erie County’s nine Lead (Cultural) Assets, as identified by the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority, include the Erie Art Museum, Erie Arts & Culture, Erie Philharmonic, Erie Playhouse, Erie Zoological Society, expERIEnce Children’s Museum, Flagship Niagara League, Hagen History Center, and Mercyhurst Institute for Arts & Culture. Collectively, the Lead Assets annually fuel the economy with more than $13.7 million indirect expenditures. State and local mandates related to the public health pandemic resulted in the Lead Assets halting standard operations. As a result, the Lead Assets incurred a loss of revenue totaling more than $3.47 million. To support the re-opening of Erie County’s key cultural assets, which collectively serve more than 670,000 residents and visitors each year, each Lead Asset will receive a one-time grant.
Shuttered Venue Grant Program ($1,474,991)
Eligible applicants must be physically located in Erie County, be currently operating, provide 2019 and 2020 business financials, and fall into one of the eligible categories (Theater Companies and Dinner Theaters, Dance Companies, Musical Groups and Artists, Other Performing Arts Companies, Museums, Historical Sites, Zoos and Botanical Gardens, Amusement and Theme Parks, Amusement Arcades, Golf Courses and Country Clubs, Skiing Facilities, Fitness and Recreational Sports Centers, Bowling Centers). Entities which have received a SBA Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, or are classified as a Lead Asset (as defined by the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority) are ineligible to apply. The program, which is being administered by the Erie County Redevelopment Authority, is designed to provide much-needed support to entities which play a critical role in the local economy as cultural and recreational attractions and that had to shutter their doors a year ago in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Workforce Development Initiative ($150,000)
The COVID-19 pandemic thrust nearly 26,000 workers from all parts of Erie County into unemployment for some period over the last 18 months. While nearly 19,000 are back to work, the workforce demands of employers in nearly every sector is a critical economic development challenge for the region. The Erie Forward Plan, Garner Workforce Development Delivery System Assessment, and Erie Restart (Recovery Plan) all identify workforce development as a priority for the region, as a strong Erie County workforce, in terms of the number of eligible workers as well as skills, has the potential to help existing companies survive and thrive and serve as a tool to attract new investment. Development of a skilled workforce requires intentional, coordinated actions over a sustained period involving partners working together to consistently train new and existing employees and build the skill sets needed by local employers. To that end, the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership is implementing a multifaceted workforce development initiative.