Tiffin, Ohio — The Seneca County Board of Commissioners agreed during Thursday’s meeting to commit $1 million to assist area businesses, residents and non-profit organizations in dealing with the negative economic impact of the COVID-19 health crisis.
The county is using CARES Act money from the federal government to fund the program. The commissioners will work with several area organizations to efficiently disburse the money by the end of the year, as it must be spent by then per federal law.
Commissioner Mike Kerschner proposed that $250,000 grants be allocated to the Great Lakes Community Action Partnership and to the Tiffin-Seneca United Way, so those organizations can directly assist those affected by the pandemic.
He also proposed that $300,000 be allocated to Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership for a program that provides direct assistance to Seneca County businesses. Another $200,000 is to be given to Fostoria Economic Development Corp. to focus on helping businesses in that city.
The commissioners unanimously agreed to Kerschner’s proposal Thursday. Kerschner thanked Commissioner Shayne Thomas for bringing the idea up earlier this year.
The county will receive roughly $3.3 million in CARES Act funding in total in three different waves via the federal program. Much of the funding has been used to better equip the county in dealing with the pandemic, as it can be used on previously unbudgeted county expenses brought about by the health crisis.
“It appears that as we come out of this pandemic, we are getting more towards a normal cash flow situation that will allow us to continue to effectively run the county,” Kerschner said. “We felt it was necessary to distribute funding to those who are specifically affected right now. We are thinking of the waiters and waitresses, theater employees and people who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19.”
Kerschner said the four organizations chosen to help distribute the funds were picked because they already have the infrastructure and programs in place to quickly get the money in the hands of those who need it most. He also felt there was a need for diversification so that many different people, businesses and non-profits are helped.
“Instead of giving it to one person, organization or company, we need to make sure we positively affect as many people as possible,” he said.
Kerschner said TSEP and FEDC can assist struggling businesses from all across the county, while Tiffin-Seneca United Way and GLCAP can advance their respective missions by bolstering existing programs. For example, GLCAP could add funding to food assistance or home energy assistance programs.
Commissioner Tony Paradiso said he was proud to vote for the initiative.
“Doing our best to help those in our community who are in need, from businesses to residents and non-profits … it is just the right thing to do,” he said.
Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership Development Manager Audrey Flood, who helps the county with rural economic development, will assist businesses from outside of Tiffin and Fostoria in seeking grant funding.
“A resource like this doesn’t come along very often,” she said, adding that she was pleased to see funding made available for all businesses in the county.