GCDC Awarded $150K Mellon Grant to Aid City Businesses Impacted by COVID-19
Greensburg, PA – July 2, 2020 –The Greensburg Community Development Corporation (GCDC) is pleased to announce that it has been named as one of the recipients of the Richard King Mellon Foundation’s COVID-19 Economic Impact and Recovery Initiative, which has recently awarded more than $8 million to organizations throughout the region. GCDC will use the $150,000 grant award to create a grant program that will aid struggling City of Greensburg businesses who have been impacted by the COVID-19 health and economic crisis.
Titled the COVID-19 Relief Main Street Jump-Start Program, this will be a joint initiative by the Greensburg Community Development Corporation and the City of Greensburg to help stimulate the local economy. It will provide City of Greensburg small business owners with grant funds to cover costs associated with essential business services needed to bounce back from the effects of COVID-19 and sustain their business. While assistance from the federal CARES Act may be used to cover costs associated with rent, utilities, and paying employees, the GCDC’s COVID-19 Relief Main Street Jump-Start Program will cover other costs vital to sustaining a small business; namely, accounting & finance, human resources, legal services, marketing, and information technology.
A portion of the grant funds will also be used to create a marketing campaign to promote downtown Greensburg and its small businesses.
“Greensburg’s small businesses are critical engines of the broader Westmoreland County economy, and the women and men who own and operate those small businesses deserve our best efforts,” said Sam Reiman, Director of the Richard King Mellon Foundation. “We salute the GCDC for its commitment to helping Greensburg small businesses to not only persevere through this pandemic, but also hopefully to come out even stronger on the other side.”
Jon Reese, Board President of the Greensburg Community Development Corporation, believes this grant will allow the City to continue its revitalization progress that began prior to the global pandemic. “We are excited to be able to continue our mission through these difficult economic times. Our partnership with the City of Greensburg will give us an excellent opportunity to help continue the City’s pre-pandemic growth and revitalization. We are grateful to the Richard King Mellon Foundation for this opportunity to help our small business owners in need.”
COVID-19 has resulted in financial hardship for the majority of Greensburg businesses. The GCDC recently conducted a survey to gauge how recent shutdowns have affected a wide variety of local businesses, including retail (non-food), grocery, food service, professional services, personal care (salons, spas, etc.), healthcare, social services, private clubs, auto services, manufacturing, and gyms/fitness centers. Of the 77 business owners who responded, 60 percent of these businesses have been in operation for more than ten years while 10 percent have just opened their doors within the past year. 97 percent of business owners have experienced loss of revenue, 60 percent of which have suffered a decrease of more than 75 percent in sales. When asked how soon they believe their business will be at risk of closing permanently, 64 percent said five months or less.
Many of these businesses have also been affected by supply chain disruptions, business closures, employee layoffs, added expenses to mitigate COVID-19 risk, and establishing alternative modes of operations such as online sales, delivery, and curbside pickup. For many, their business is their only source of income. Business owners are not the only ones suffering, as many of their employees have been furloughed, laid off, or had their hours reduced. Through further conversations with Greensburg’s small business owners, many have expressed that they are not sure if they will be able to survive these difficult times. The GCDC’s COVID-19 Relief Main Street Jump-Start Program will be a welcome source of aid for struggling business owners who are concerned that they may be forced to close their doors permanently.
“As the Westmoreland County seat, the City of Greensburg has the unique position to serve as the catalyst needed to jump-start the local economy in the wake of COVID-19,” said Ashley Kertes, Executive Director of the GCDC. “Over the past several years, our City has experienced a resurgence of growth and revitalization that will be all for naught if our small businesses are unable to survive. On behalf of the Greensburg Community Development Corporation’s Board of Directors, we thank the Richard King Mellon Foundation for the generous grant award that will allow us to help our small business owners who are struggling the most.”
Gregory Mertz, Greensburg City Councilman: “We are grateful to the Greensburg Community Development Corporation for going above and beyond to help our City’s small businesses in need. This grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation will go a long way in aiding in the City’s COVID-19 recovery process. We are proud to partner with GCDC on this tremendous initiative.”
Robert L. Bell, City of Greensburg Mayor: “The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has put our small business owners in a very precarious position. The GCDC’s acquisition of the Richard King Mellon Foundation grant will go a long way in helping our small business owners get back on their feet. Any resources that can be made available to these businesses will certainly be very welcome and provide a glimmer of hope and recovery.”
More details about GCDC’s COVID-19 Relief Main Street Jump-Start Program will be announced soon, including program guidelines, eligibility, and application information. For the latest updates, please visit www.thinkgreensburg.com and be sure to follow GCDC’s Facebook page @ThinkGreensburg.