Erie County Council approves Cares Act funding to help tourism and first responders

Local News

Efforts to alleviate hardships from COVID-19 move forward in Erie County.

This time Erie County Council members approved one million dollars in Cares Act funding in order to help ease financial business.

We took a look at how this funding could help tourism and first responders.

Erie County relies on tourism during the spring and summer months, but since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, the group that promotes tourism in Erie is receiving help to try to bring back tourists.

After suffering from a lack of tourism this summer, Visit Erie is getting a financial boost to try to revive the tourism industry thanks to half a million dollars from the Cares Act Fund.

While tourism is a multi million dollar industry here in Erie County, one Erie County Councilman said that tourism isn’t what he considers a top priority during the pandemic.

“I really don’t know how many visitors are going to get here in Erie for $500,000 this winter,” said Andre Horton, Erie County Councilman.

This comes after CEO of Visit Erie asked County Council for a $500,000 grant to assist with advertising efforts.

John Oliver, the CEO of Visit Erie, told us that the $500,000 expects to tailor to recovery costs and fall tourism.

“Fall foliage, winery tours, the ale trail, we’re now bringing out a new mural trail. We have opportunities for people to come in,” said John Oliver, CEO of Visit Erie.

Grant money is also expected to help with business at the Bayfront Convention Center as restrictions begin to ease.

Relief efforts also extend to first responders who are at the front line of the pandemic.

“Volunteer fire departments haven’t been able to put any fundraisers together. They’ve had a lot of extra expenses with masks, gowns, air packs, they’ve had to pay it all out of pocket,” said Brian Shank, Erie County Councilman.

Volunteer fire departments originally asked the county for $1.5 million dollars, but county council only approved a budget for $500,000 which could help 31 volunteer fire departments in the county.

An additional window for applications for small businesses and non-profits opens in October giving more time for people to apply as this pandemic continues and we approach the end of 2020.

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