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Township To Distribute $161K To Small Businesses, Food Bank And COVID Testing

The township will distribute about $161,000 to support the Franklin Food Bank, COVID testing, and to help township businesses retain employees.

The money comes from a special Coronavirus Aid Relief & Economic Security (CARES) Act allocation made through the federal Community Development Block Grant program.

Council members decided to allocate $85,933 to small township businesses, $50,000 for coronavirus testing and $25,000 for the food bank at its virtual June 9 meeting.

Barbara Mitchell, the township’s CDBG coordinator, said there was a choice between giving the $85,000 to small businesses through micro grants or directly to renters to help them make their payments.

“We decided that the micro enterprise program would probably be the most effective because it would allow us to assist 11 to 17 businesses and help them with employee retention, and in the end it would help keep families in their homes if they were able to pay rent,” she said.

“It was an either/or proposition because of the limited amount of funds we received, and the desire to make the best impact with the funds we had,” she said.

At his virtual Town Hall meeting on June 11, Mayor Phil Kramer said the choice was seen as “killing two birds with one stone.”

“If you help businesses stay in business, then they hire people and those people could very well be people who pay rent,” he said. “If you pay rent alone, the businesses aren’t helped at all. Our hope is if we give allocations to businesses, they will trickle down and allow people to perhaps pay their rent.”

Kramer said businesses can apply for the program, and all eligible applications will be put into pool for a lottery.

“There was a thought at one point that it should be first come, first served, but that serves people who, one, just may run into it, or two, may have better internet skills or better access,” he said. “We thought that lottery was the way to go.”

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