Summit County's Economic Picture Looks Mixed as Pandemic Recovery Continues
Summit County has relied on multiple sources of funding to help businesses survive the past year of pandemic, and the county council received a review of those monies during its regular meeting Wednesday.
Summit County Manager Tom Fisher said the county government has received about $1 million from the federal CARES Act and has dispensed grants utilizing all of it.
The relief funds went to businesses and nonprofits that had to meet certain criteria for funding, including hiring low-and-moderate-income employees.
“We were attempting to be as liberal as we possibly could in order to make as many nonprofits and small businesses eligible because a lot of those places were kind of left behind by some of the larger PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) programs that were available from the federal government.”
Fisher added they also received community development block grants totaling about $450,000.
The county’s Economic Development Director, Jeff Jones, also reported that the county got about $100,000 in rural county grants, but has only dispensed about half of that sum so far.
“It was going towards anything that would help that business prepare for, or react to, the current conditions, and prepare to launch, once conditions improved,” Fisher said. “And one of the reasons that we’re seeing, or that Jeff Jones has cited, for some of that money not being granted out so far, is that people are anticipating this larger amount of money coming from the federal government. And perhaps some of these smaller grants aren’t as attractive. But as that starts to shake out over the next few months, I think we’re going see some more interest in the remainder of this money as well.”
Fisher said that at least a portion of Summit County’s economic sectors have returned to the same activity levels they saw in February of 2020.
“Construction has done very well,” he said. “Retail has done relatively well, although there was a spike in the December-January time frame and then we lost a little bit since then. Where we’re seeing the big drop—and this is consistent throughout the entire incident—has been in lodging and restaurant and the arts and culture industry especially.”