Liz Furia opened Elizabeth’s An American Bistro at 412 Market St. 24 years ago and said the grant was also a needed lifeline for her established restaurant. “I’ve only been in business for two years. I would have had to lay off all my employees but with the $25,000 grant, I was able to keep all of my staff employed and buy new product,” said Hibbert, who owns Lewisburg Delicatessen at 334 Market St.
The funding also helped Furia offset the cost of a new outdoor patio providing seating for up to 50.
“Grants like this and the support of the community have made all the difference. It will make our business stronger,” she said of the $25,000 she received which helped cover payroll and other expenses when the business slowed significantly during the pandemic, as well as the patronage of customers and assistance provided by the Lewisburg Downtown Partnership.
“This outdoor dining space is bringing new life to the restaurant,” Furia said.
In all, CHIRP funding through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development is allocating $145 million to hospitality industry businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic.
Nineteen Union County businesses that experienced revenue loss of 25 percent or more, including eight downtown businesses, received grants through CHIRP, said Carrie Fischer Lepore, deputy secretary of Marketing, Tourism and Film, who on Friday said she “worried about the future of the hospitality industry” during the health crisis, including restaurants that had to close or curb their indoor seating.
“Restaurants represent so much more than a place to grab a bite to eat. They are gathering places where celebrations are held and memories are made,” said Lepore at an event held in Lewisburg Friday morning to announce the grant allocation.
In Union County, she said, 21 applications for funding were submitted and 19 were approved for a total of $502,354.
Kim Wheeler, executive director of SEDA-Council of Governments, said 11 Valley counties received a total of $7.1 million in CHIRP funds.
“We know there is still more need,” said Wheeler.
State Rep. David Rowe, R-85, of Lewisburg, said the CHIRP grant “is one shining beacon of bipartisanship” and hopes more collaboration in Harrisburg will occur to help Pennsylvanians impacted by the pandemic.
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