Courtesy Endless Mountains Media Services
Within weeks of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf issuing “stay at home” directives in March to curb an expected rise in coronavirus cases, it became obvious that small businesses would suffer greatly, especially if the shutdowns were extended, which they were. Cabot Oil & Gas worked with several agencies in Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains region to create the Small Business Assistance Program, through which companies with two to 20 employees could apply for grants of up to $1,500.
“Once the pandemic started and our small businesses were ordered to close, a group came together to figure out a way to help,” said Melissa Turlip (above), director of programming for Commonwealth Charitable Trust, which helped administer the program with Interfaith of Susquehanna and Wyoming Counties, Trehab, the Central Bradford Progress Authority, and the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce.
Via several rounds of online applications and reviews by a board representing each of the agencies, $218,100 in grants were distributed to 162 businesses in the three-county area. The funds could be used for utilities, taxes, rent or mortgage and other expenses incurred by businesses during the shutdown.
“The overall concept was to provide them with a little bit of money so they could hold over until other relief was available,” said Dennis Phelps, executive director at Trehab.
“The historic level of need was apparent, with a wide range of businesses requesting assistance,” noted Progress Authority vice president of economic development T. Thompson (above). “From restaurants and bars to salon owners and chiropractors, the negative impact of COVID on sales has been staggering.”
Cabot’s start-up contribution of $100,000 was matched by the community, with the Sardoni Family Foundation cited as another significant donor by Turlip. “One hundred percent of the donations received were distributed back into the community in the form of business grants,” she remarked.
“Although the amount of the grants won’t rectify all the issues facing the business owners, it’s effectiveness can be measured by the heartfelt ‘thank yous’ we received from the owners,” said Thompson.
Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce president Gina Suydam (above) expressed appreciation to Cabot and the Community Foundation for their support and coordination of the Small Business Grant program, stating, “This funding was vital to small businesses as so many had no source of income, the application process was simple, and the turn around time was fast. Companies received checks within a week or two of applying. This was crucial and timely funding for the business owners.”
“Cabot is committed to assisting those in need in the communities in which we work and those from which our dedicated employees reside,” said Cabot external affairs director George Stark (above). “We will continue to contribute and collaborate with our philanthropic partners and the agencies that help to shape the local economy. We urge you to be aware of the needs in your own community and share your time and resources as we look to brighter days on the horizon.”