Officials visited several Chester County restaurants and hotels on Friday that recently received some of the $5.9 million in grant funds provided to the hospitality industry through the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP). A total of 203 grantees across Chester County have benefitted from the program.
“These businesses aren’t out of the woods yet,” said Chester County Economic Development Council (CCEDC) President and CEO Gary Smith. “Hospitality is among the industries most devastated by the pandemic, and through the CHIRP program, we were able to provide first aid for those most affected and who are so crucial to our region’s economic health.”
The hospitality industry generates 22,060 jobs in Chester County. CHIRP funding provided by the Commonwealth was administered by CCEDC beginning in March at the behest of the Chester County Commissioners. Each participating business was eligible to apply for individual grants valued between $5,000 and $50,000.
Chester County Commissioners Marian Moskowitz, Josh Maxwell and Michelle Kichline said, “The CHIRP grants were a boost for the hundreds of businesses – many of them family owned – that were hard-hit by the pandemic.
“Helping to keep these businesses going is a smart investment in our county’s economy, and we will continue to find ways to support this industry, including working with our chambers of commerce, the Chester County Economic Development Council and all other partners.”
The Chester County Commissioners and CCEDC were joined by PA Department of Community & Economic Development Deputy Secretary Steve D’Ettorre during a tour of four businesses across the county: Allen’s on First in Coatesville, Hilltop Crab House Restaurant and Bar in Toughkenamon, Kennett House Bed and Breakfast in Kennett Square, and Steel City Coffee Shop and Brewery in Phoenixville.
“Pennsylvania’s hospitality industry was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Wolf administration knew it was imperative for the state to step in and provide all the support we possibly could,” said DCED Deputy Secretary Steve D’Ettorre. “Bars and restaurants are our gathering places. They are owned by our friends and neighbors – they’re where we go when we want to celebrate, or just want to see a familiar face. Our county and local partners knew from the get-go how critical this assistance was, and we commend them for their outstanding efforts to quickly get these grants into the hands of our small business owners.”
The three sisters who run Allen’s on First, a third-generation business that serves soul food and pizza, said the grants were a major help as they continued to work full-time jobs during the pandemic as well as run their popular eatery.
The owner of Hilltop Crab House Restaurant and Bar, along with General Manager Heather Brydges, said, “The CHIRP grant made a huge difference and really helped save the business. We are so grateful in such a time of desperation, when we were in such a major pinch.”
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania announced the $145 million in CHIRP recovery funds last winter, under Act 1 of 2021. The funds were distributed to Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, with allocations based on population.
CCEDC Chief Operating Officer Michael Grigalonis said, “Through our work administering CHIRP, Chester County’s Main Street Preservation Program grants, CWCA loans as well as the federal Paycheck Protection Program, we have had the privilege of assisting more than 1,500 Chester County businesses with gaining access to COVID relief funding.”