WILLIAMSPORT, LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) Small businesses in Lycoming County are working hard getting back up on their feet as they make their way through Governor Tom Wolf’s green phase of reopening. One local organization is doing their best to make that process go as smoothly as possible.

The Lycoming County Chamber of Commerce has been providing local businesses with money as part of their small business relief fund grant and loan program. The first round has been so successful, they’re already working on round two.

“We had no direction as to when we were going to open, so it was a waiting game. It was very frustrating,” said David Palski, owner of the Shore Diner.

For many small business owners in Lycoming County, it has been a struggle being out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was almost about three months, it was really hard. you know, of course we missed our clients, we missed our business, we missed our co workers in general,” said Karen Schweizer, coordinator at Salon Magnolia.

It’s why the Lycoming County Chamber of Commerce established a loan program to assist small businesses getting back on their feet. The chamber divided up a pool of two hundred thousand dollars to provide grants and loans to 89 businesses.

“We all live here in these communities, and you look at the small businesses, and we know what these small businesses do. If this wasn’t going on, they’d be involved with providing charitable donations to a variety of different things in our community. Unfortunately, they’re the ones who need the assistance now and it’s great to be able to help them out that way,” said Lycoming Chamber of Commerce President Jason Fink.

Palski says he was able to bring 23 employees back to work with the grant money.

“It was nice to have someone behind the small business locally, so psychologically and financially, it was really the catalyst to be be able to reopen. We had no inventory at all. We had to donate most of our inventory to local food banks and to be able to reopen we obviously had to pay the vendors to drop the food off,” said Palski.

Local salon employees are also grateful.

“Due to the generosity of the Chamber of Commerce, in receiving that grant we were able to open our doors by adding more protective personal equipment for our girls, putting dividers in between shampoo sinks to keep our clients safer and lessen the spread of germs,” said Schweizer.

Now, the chamber is encouraging additional businesses to get their applications in for a round two of grants and loans.

Fink tells Eyewitness News businesses will need to have their applications completed by July 1st and then the chamber of commerce will be able to cut checks by July 24th.

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