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The city of Erie has a $ 17M program to assist restaurants, businesses, and promote development

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City Council and Schember administration officials discussed the requests, which he called “transformational,” at a Tuesday evening study session at City Hall. 

The plan includes $500,000 for a new program that would provide grants of up to $5,000 to restaurants and entertainment businesses in the city who lost revenue because of the pandemic.

Addressing the restaurant grant proposal, Groner said Erie’s restaurants “play a critical role in the makeup of our community, the fabric of our community. And we want to support them.”

Chris Groner is vice president of capital finance and lending for the Erie County Redevelopment Authority, but he still does some economic development work for Schember’s administration, including the management of city loan funds.

Story Highlights

  • Schember laid out the proposal during his weekly news conference on Thursday at Erie City Hall. He wants Erie City Council to sign off on the plan, which would earmark roughly $17 million in ARP funds to various initiatives, at council’s regular meeting on Wednesday.

  • “We’re hoping that they will approve it on Wednesday,” Schember said. “These projects are very important because the main purpose of ARP funding is to help people most impacted by COVID 19. We’ve explained it in detail to City Council, and I believe we’ve made a strong case.”

Marci Honard has been the co-owner of Calamari’s Squid Row, a bar/restaurant at 1317 State St., since 1996. She applauded the Schember administration’s plan to aid restaurants and other businesses.

“Every little bit helps, especially if it’s money you don’t have to pay back,” said Honard, who said Calamari’s suffered revenue losses of nearly 40% in 2020. “When the pandemic hit we were applying for every type of help we could find.  I felt like it was my part-time job.”

Erie’s overall ARP allocation is $76 million from the $1.9 trillion federal stimulus bill, which was signed into law this year by President Joe Biden to aid in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Schember’s proposal also includes the following: 

Funding plans:Erie officials, with a $76M allocation, still working on a plan to spend COVID relief funds ARP manager:Jacqueline Spry sees $76M from American Rescue Plan as ‘historic opportunity’ to help Erie

City Council previously signed off on using an additional $3 million in ARP funds to help raze two high-profile blighted properties within the city of Erie — the former Erie Malleable Iron property at West 12th and Cherry streets as well as the former Quin-T Tech Paper and Boards property at 140 East 16th St. — and push forward a plan to revamp Savocchio Park located near East 16th Street and Downing Avenue. Savocchio Park is located in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. 

“There’s a lot packed in there, but we have to take advantage of the opportunity to invest in economic development with ARP funding,” Allen said. “The American Rescue Plan is designed to help people hit hardest by COVID-19 but we also know that to meet those needs long-term, we need to support affordable housing, aid small businesses and assist entrepreneurs,” Allen said. 

City Councilwoman Liz Allen said she reports Schember’s proposal.  Demolition and development:Erie could set aside $3M in COVID relief funds for demolition, Savocchio Park revamp