CLEARFIELD – Clearfield County is applying for over $7 million in grant funding to help the county, along with its municipalities and small businesses, to recover from COVID-19.
Earlier this month, Gov. Tom Wolf announced the disbursement of $625 million to 60 Pennsylvania counties through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Clearfield County was eligible to apply to the COVID-19 County Relief Block Grant Program through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).
On Tuesday Commissioner Chairman Tony Scotto said that the county has applied for and could receive up to its prorated portion of $7,157,429 for COVID-19-related expenses.
He said the county’s grant application consisted of seven primary expense categories, including:
- direct county response, planning and outreach related to COVID-19.
- telework and Information Technology (IT) capabilities for county officials and employees. This also includes implementation of new software establishing that employees and the public have access to public records.
- implementation of sanitation, social distancing and COVID-19 medical measures at the Clearfield County Jail.
- assistance to eligible municipalities with expenses related to COVID-19 planning and response.
- a small business grant program. It would target businesses with fewer than 100 employees, as well as other businesses and entities engaged in the county’s tourism industry.
- broadband Internet deployment with priority given to unserved or underserved areas.
- assistance to eligible non-profits.
Commissioner John Sobel noted the funds: can’t be used for previously budgeted expenses; must be spent by the end of the current year; and must be used for COVID-19-relatd expenses.
“This is strictly to counter expenses that the county, municipalities or small businesses have incurred because of the pandemic,” Scotto said.
Commissioner Dave Glass said once the county’s application is approved by DCED, more information will be made available, especially concerning the county’s plans for the grant program.
He said it would target small businesses that either suffered a loss or experienced expenses to operate in compliance with CDC guidelines.
“There will be a vetting process,” he said, adding: “We won’t just hand it out to anyone. We’ll try to target smaller small businesses that maybe didn’t have a chance at the federal funding.”
Glass said the county has a general idea of how much funds will be allocated to each expense category, and there will be a “sizeable chunk” for the small business grants.
However, he said categorical figures won’t be released until the county’s application is approved and it receives its allocation. He said the state is expected to disperse the funds by July 15.
Also, on Tuesday, the commissioners approved an agreement with Zelenkofske Axelrod LLC to administer and track the grant funding on behalf of Clearfield County.