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L.C. board distributes COVID-19 relief funds


Special to The Press

Lehigh County commissioners made progress on allocating COVID-19 relief money to local businesses and nonprofits during their Sept. 23 meeting.

“We are trying to distribute all the COVID funds that have been allocated,” Commissioner Geoff Brace said in a meeting held via Zoom.

“It is important these funds get into the community in a quick and efficient manner.”

Lehigh County Director of the Department of Community and Economic Development Frank Kane 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 added there is a waiting list in case more money comes 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.”

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 population.

Another $5 million will go to regional organizations such as the Iron Pigs, ArtsQuest, the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Discover Lehigh Valley, the regional airport will get money from both Lehigh County and Northampton County’s COVID 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.”