Wolf Administration, Erie Co. Leaders: $3 Million Helping Local Bars and Restaurants with Pandemic Recovery

Gov. Wolf secured $145 million in pandemic relief for the hospitality industry

Harrisburg, PA – Secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Dennis Davin joined Chief Executive Officer of the Erie County Redevelopment Authority (ECRDA) Tina Mengine, Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper, and U Pick 6 Public House owner John Melody today to highlight the assistance available through the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP).

“Securing this funding was a major priority for Governor Wolf as the administration worked tirelessly to identify solutions that could support the restaurant and hospitality industry—which we know took an incredibly devastating hit throughout the pandemic,” said Sec. Davin. “Recognizing the important, community-based role restaurants play in communities across the commonwealth, this relief is an initial but critical step in helping the industry regain footing as we continue to move forward in pandemic recovery.”

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.

“Throughout the pandemic, the businesses hardest hit were from the hospitality industry, and like most towns, these small businesses are the lifeblood of a community and Erie is no different,” said ECRDA Chief Executive Offer Mengine. “We saw firsthand the devasting effects to our local businesses and their employees, with establishments literally hanging on by a shoestring and whole families impacted. We are grateful to the commonwealth for this grant program and glad we were entrusted to assist in the distribution of the funds. Unlike other grant programs, CHIRP’s guidelines were clear, and we were able to get funds out the door quickly, which we deemed critically important to saving as many businesses as possible.”

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.

“When our state legislature and Governor Wolf developed the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program, they demonstrated solid faith in the future success of our local businesses and thriving economy,” said Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper. “At a time when we were met with unprecedented challenges, they offered sound solutions. The program helped rebuild hope, solvency, and recovery in Erie County. I am proud of our businesses for their resilience and partnership throughout this pandemic, and I am thrilled that help and important funding was available in our greatest time of need.”

Erie County received 164 applications for CHIRP funding and awarded a total of $3 million to its restaurant and hospitality industry. Grants were awarded to businesses in 24 different zip codes throughout the county.

U Pick 6 Public House owner John Melody received CHIRP assistance for three of his restaurants. The U Pick 6 Public House received $50,000 in funding, the U Pick 6 Tap House received $45,000 in funding, and the U Pick 6 Harbor House received $35,000 in funding through the CHIRP program.

“It’s well documented how the bar and restaurant business struggled during the past 15 months,” said U Pick 6 Public House owner John Melody. “With some very difficult business decisions on the horizon, Cares Act and CHIRP grant funding came at just the right time for our businesses. These grants helped us survive the shutdowns and restrictions by paying mortgages, rents, and utilities. More significantly, during the second shutdown in December 2020, it allowed us to pay and retain all our management and salaried employees. We are eternally grateful for the timeliness and support of the CHIRP grants and feel because of this and other programs we are now almost past ‘survival’ mode and looking forward to the future of our businesses and industry.”

For more information about the Department of Community and Economic Development, visit the DCED website, and be sure to stay up-to-date with all of our agency news on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Casey Smith, DCED, casesmith@pa.gov

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