LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Many small businesses in our area are still recovering financial losses from the pandemic, but help in the form of federal dollars from American Rescue Plan funding could soon be given to approved applicants.

Luzerne County received nearly $113 million in Rescue Plan funding and now it’s responsible for determining who gets it.

Small business owners pled their case to county council about what they would do with the cash.

“My small business started in 2014,” said Amy Bezek, Owner of Amy Bezek Photography.

Amy Bezek is the owner of Amy Bezek photography in Edwardsville. The pandemic prompted her to move her business out of her home and into a new location in Forty Fort last year that was under construction.

“With COVID, it didn’t just hurt small business. The after-effect with inflation, it’s still happening and of course, I’m over budget,” Bezek continued.

Bezek joins around 140 applicants who are looking to get a slice of Luzerne County’s American Rescue Plan funding allotment. The economic stimulus package was approved by federal lawmakers last year and has generated interest from many non-profits, government entities, and businesses.

“We’re providing care to folks so that they can remain at home, not go into nursing homes, and also to give their caregivers a much-needed respite. What I applied for was to expand our services,” said Diane Cowman, Owner and Director of Second Family Memory Care Center.

County council hired booth management consulting to help with the process.

“What we do is, we give you recommendations. One, is the project eligible, yes or no? That’s the assessment we’ll give you. Two, what risk category, low, medium, or high? And then three, are the budgeted costs that they’re requesting allowable? So, we’re giving that to the evaluation team, you all use that along with the other evaluation factors to make your decisions,” explained Robin Booth of Booth Management Consulting.

Its possible checks could be in the hands of approved applicants before the end of the year.

“It would just be nice to see some of the grant funding going back to the arts and the creative world and people in the creative community, because staying creative is the healthiest thing to keep your mind occupied,” Bezek stated.

After crunching some numbers, Booth Management informed county council that around 96 million in rescue plan funding is left after accounting for projects.

The deadline to apply was September 15.