More than $9 million will soon be available to city business owners and community organizers who were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The idea is to use this funding to help business owners recover from the pandemic. Mayor Joe Schember says those who apply could receive funds as soon as March.

The U.S. Treasury Department releasing the final rules on the proper use of the city’s American Rescue Plan funding. Mayor Joe Schember announcing some of the guidelines necessary for business owners to receive these funds, which total about $9.5 million for community development programming.

“There are specific rules for how this money is allowed to be used, and we have to know that it’s going to be used according to those rules because there are specific rules before we release any of it. If we don’t, then we might have to repay it down the road, which we don’t want to get in that position at all.” said Mayor Joe Schember, City of Erie.

Mayor Schember says for those who apply, their businesses must be located in the City of Erie and have no more than 500 employees. Business owners must also prove that they lost income due to the pandemic or that they serve those who were negatively impacted. Applicants must be up to date on all state, local, and federal taxes.

“Everything must be spent at the very latest on December 31, 2026, so people have a couple years to actually use this money.” said Jennifer Hoffman, Business Development Officer for the City of Erie.

One representative from a downtown organization says he believes this funding will have a lasting impact on the community.

“For these funds to be used in downtown and other parts of the city can truly help these businesses that have been our backbone. They could really use it in a time, especially when, in five years from now, these are what these funds did and look at the impact that they’ve had.” said John Buchna.

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Mayor Schember says City of Erie business owners can now start applying as soon as next week.

Click here for more information on ARP funding in Erie County. You can also click here for more information on ARP funding in the City of Erie.