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COVID-19 relief funds allocated

Lehigh County Board of Commissioners made progress on allocating COVID-19 relief money to local businesses and nonprofits at its Sept. 23 meeting.

“We are trying to distribute all of the COVID funds that have been allocated,” Commissioner Geoff Brace said in the meeting held via Zoom. “It is important these funds get into the community in a quick and efficient manner.”

Frank Kane, Lehigh County director of the Department of Community and Economic Development, said his department had received more than 500 applications from small businesses in Lehigh County. Kane said $5 million of the $33.3 million COVID-19 relief package will be allocated to qualifying small businesses.

Kane said 411 businesses with 688 employees have been selected to start the process of getting funds. He said there is a waiting list in case more money becomes available.

“We could have gone first-come, first served,” Kane said. “But, that would have given advantage to those who might have connections. We wanted to make sure everybody got a shot.”

“Trust the law department to make sure what we are about to give is within the confines of the law,” Brace said.

Kane said $6 million has been set aside for municipalities on the basis of their population. For that reason, Allentown will get the most, while other municipalities will get amounts proportional to their populations.

Another $5 million will go to regional organizations such as the IronPigs, ArtsQuest, Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce Foundation and Discover Lehigh Valley. The regional airport will get money from both Lehigh County and Northampton County COVID-19 relief money.

Another $5 million is earmarked for “regional cooperation and tourism,” and $4 million for “education, broadband and workforce assistance.”

According to information released by the county, $6 million will go to “drug, alcohol, behavioral health and human services.”

Frank Kane, director of the Lehigh County Department of Community and Economic Development, addresses the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners during a Zoom meeting Sept. 23. He said his department received more than 500 applications from small businesses looking for COVID-19 relief funds. PRESS PHOTO BY DOUG GRAVES