Substantially more money may soon flow into Harrisburg’s small business grant program

A screen shot of Harrisburg City Council’s virtual work session on Tuesday

Harrisburg is looking to significantly boost a fund that is offering grants of up to $10,000 to small businesses.

At Tuesday night’s City Council work session, city officials said that another $1.25 million soon may be injected into the Neighborhood Business Stabilization Program.

“We would look forward to expanding our partnership with Impact Harrisburg and have a round two of funding,” said Marc Woolley, the city’s business administrator.

Over the past two weeks, Impact Harrisburg, a nonprofit formed as part of the city’s 2013 financial recovery plan, has been accepting applications for the program, which offers grants of up to $10,000 to help city-licensed small businesses survive the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, according to Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse, the need for assistance quickly exhausted the $1 million pot of money, funded evenly by the city and Impact Harrisburg.

“I can tell you that there is far more need than even the funds that are available,” he told council members during the virtual meeting.

A week ago, city Solicitor Neil Grover, who chairs the Impact Harrisburg board, told council members that requests for grants already were double the $1 million fund.

Therefore, Impact Harrisburg has decided to commit another $750,000 to the program, Papenfuse said.

In addition, the administration, Papenfuse said, would like to kick in another $500,000, that money originating from supplemental CARES Act funding from the federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). City Council would need to approve that distribution.

Papenfuse also said that he expected Impact Harrisburg, which is administering the program, to make an announcement soon of award recipients for the first funding round.

“I believe that Impact Harrisburg’s plan is to close out this initial round with an announcement by the end of the week,” he said.

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