NEW BETHLEHEM – Small businesses are the foundation of our communities and our economy, so said New Bethlehem Mayor Gordon Barrows who presented a list last week of things being done in the area to help small businesses in the New Bethlehem and Redbank Valley community.

Local businesses have reported facing multiple challenges during the last several months due to governmental restrictions and health-safety limitations, Barrows said, noting that officials from the New Bethlehem area and the Redbank Valley community “have been organizing helpful resources and information to aid local businesses through these challenging times.”

“I wish to express my sincerest appreciation to the Redbank Valley Chamber of Commerce and specifically Vice President Jamie Lefever as well as New Bethlehem Borough Council, and specifically Council President Lisa Kerle and Vice President Sandra Mateer,” Barrows said. “All of these ladies have been instrumental in obtaining grants, funding and organizing resources to aid the local business community in the New Bethlehem area and Redbank Valley community.”

Barrows listed the following small business-related actions in the area:

1. Unemployment Application — The Clarion Small Business Development Center recently announced that self-employed unemployment applications can now be filed. More information can be found here: www.uc.pa.gov/COVID-19/CARES-Act/Pages/FPUC-FAQs.aspx.

2. Save Small Business Fund — Funded by corporate and philanthropic partners, the Save Small Business Fund is a collective effort to provide $5,000 grants to as many small employers as possible through the United States Chamber of Commerce.

Redbank Valley Chamber of Commerce Vice President and Executive director of the Jefferson County Development Council, Jamie Lefever informed local officials of the small business grant: “As part of an economic recovery team, I feel it is important to inform businesses of any resources that become available to allow businesses to make or take advantage of any programs that might fit in their unique situations. As a chamber board member, I want to keep the community informed.”

Save Small Business recently published the following notice on their website: “Due to overwhelming demand, we’re unable to accept new applications. We are in the process of awarding grants and wish we could help everyone in this challenging time.”

3. Grants, Loans and Funding — New Bethlehem Borough officials have also been organizing resources to help taxpayers and local businesses, Barrows said.

Last fall, New Bethlehem Borough was able to obtain a USDA Rural Development Grant for purchase of the Street Department’s new pick up/plow truck that was delivered in November. Barrows said that grant of $53,700 also enabled the borough to obtain a new garbage truck in combination with a low interest long-term loan for $32,000 and $61,747 in funds that have been reserved by the borough over the years.

The truck’s delivery has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic closures, the mayor explained. It replaces the borough’s 2009 truck and will allow the borough to continue to provide cost effective garbage collection services, including a cart tipper for large cans for the safety of borough employees, Barrows said.

“Although federal or state funding is not yet approved nor available for municipalities under the Paycheck Protection Program or the Families First Act, the borough is researching ways to cover the unanticipated sick leave and equipment and supply costs mandated and incurred due to the pandemic,” Barrows said.

He added the New Bethlehem Borough Council members are in communication with county, state and federal representatives and agencies to determine what funding is available and when they can apply. In the meantime all costs are being recorded.

4. News and Updates — Officials would like to remind local residents and businesses to join the chamber, borough, community center and other local government and civic organizations on social media for the latest news and resources.

Barrows shared: “I recently updated my mayoral webpages to reflect real-time social media updates, monthly reports as well as other helpful information regarding community projects, and economic efforts being made to support taxpayers and local businesses in the New Bethlehem area and Redbank Valley community.”

Barrows encouraged residents to visit NewBethlehemBoro.com/Mayor or GordonBarrows.com/Mayor and browse through the resources within each tab, paying special attention to the “Reports” tab where you’ll find a monthly mayor report.

5. Complete Census — New Bethlehem Borough Council also stressed how important it is for citizens to complete their census forms because it directly impacts CDBG and other funding for the borough that would otherwise have to be paid in taxes.

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