With signs of the economic recovery faltering, and further aid still held up in Washington, D.C., the Carlisle Area Chamber of Commerce is seeking donations for a local small business relief program.
The Carlisle chamber’s website is now set up to receive donations for a local version of the PA 30 Day Fund, a program set up and administered by business groups in the state as a mutual aid effort during the COVID-19 pandemic.
An initial round of local funding using the PA 30 Day Fund system was paid out earlier this month, with 10 awards of $3,000 each to Carlisle-area businesses, according to the chamber. But more rounds of funding are needed.
“Our local small businesses need help, now more than ever,” said Michelle Crowley, CEO of the Carlisle Chamber. Any amount contributed will be used “so we may assist more small business owners through the 1st quarter of 2021, which we all believe will be very difficult.”
The PA 30 Day Fund system is structured as forgivable loans, effectively grants, that are to be used for costs such as payroll and health coverage, with the intent of allowing businesses to retain their employees even if work is slow due to the pandemic. Businesses must be based in Pennsylvania and owned and operated by a Pennsylvania resident, according to the program’s website.
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Economic data shows that much of the pandemic recovery that occurred over the summer has slowed.
Retail sales nationally fell 1.1% in November, adjusting for seasonality, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.
The Harrisburg-Carlisle metro region, which includes Cumberland, Dauphin and Perry counties, had roughly 13,700 fewer payroll employees in October 2020 versus October 2019, according to federal data.
The nominal unemployment rate for the region was 5.7% in October, although the total civilian labor force also shrank, indicating some residents may have stopped looking for work due to the protracted downturn.
Much of the economic aid from the federal government’s spring CARES Act is long gone, including Paycheck Protection Program loans and the $600 weekly unemployment bonus that kept consumer spending up and poverty levels down through the summer.
Congress is working on another round of federal fiscal relief totaling roughly $900 billion, with bipartisan agreement on the need for a deal before Christmas, but continuing divisions on the details, according to national media outlets.
Zack’s 5 favorite stories of 2020
Dickinson students demand reform after allegation of mishandled sexual assault investigation
Early this year, Dickinson College was the site of mass protests over a student’s accusation that the college had bungled her sexual assault case – not giving her access to the investigation materials and ultimately rescinding a no-contact order, even though the college had found the alleged assailant culpable.
An op-ed in the college newspaper by the student, Rose McAvoy, successfully lit a fire under the college administration, which in a matter of days had met with student protestors and agreed to a list of reforms in the Title IX process — although McAvoy is currently litigating against the college in federal court seeking further redress.
The story was a real glimpse, for me, at the amount of commitment and persistence it takes for student activists to be successful, and the fact that this dedication can have real payoffs.
Dickinson College students turned out en masse Friday night to decry the school administration’s alleged shortcomings in dealing with sexual a…
Mechanicsburg rally highlights need for historical reckoning with race
On a similar note, myself and The Sentinel as a team spent a lot of time this year covering localized protests that were part of the national outcry over police brutality and the deaths of unarmed Black citizens at the hands of law enforcement.
The way in which small communities like Carlisle and Mechanicsburg deal with the issue is obviously different than in larger cities.
But here again, it was interesting to see young people often take the lead and try to pro-actively address racial disparities before they lead to violence — and to see some of the area’s more conservative politicians see these demands as inherent threats.
A group of local activists, including many current or former Mechanicsburg high school students, held a rally in the borough Saturday night wi…
A COVID Winter: Downtown business owners, employees bank on strong holiday to weather pandemic
With COVID-19 arriving in Cumberland County, one of story arcs that mattered to me the most this year was covering the economic needs of the community in an unprecedentedly abrupt downturn.
Talking to distressed workers, small business owners, food banks, the homeless, and others really reinforced to me how great the need is, even in a comparatively prosperous area like Cumberland County.
In many cases — such as housing costs or the under-staffing of the state’s unemployment system — the economic problems highlighted by the pandemic have their roots in issues that existed long beforehand, something I hope we as community can keep in mind as we recover.
Businesses enter an unpredictable winter without much of the economic assistance that they had in the spring. That assistance was fueled by the federal CARES Act, the multitrillion dollar stimulus package the government passed in March and which has since largely been exhausted or expired.
Nursing home death data doesn't match up to political debate
As somebody who has a particular taste for numbers and fine details, there is little that piques my interest more than hearing a politician make a fabulous claim about a data trend and then try to hedge when asked to quantify it.
Congressman Scott Perry certainly isn’t the first to do this, and certainly won’t be the last, but his insistence that a correlation between nursing home readmission orders and COVID-19 death rates exists, when it clearly does not, is one of the more bizarre attempts to bend a statistic for partisan gains that I’ve written about in a long time.
A war of words has raged over the past several weeks between Republican legislators and the Democratic Wolf administration over the latter’s p…
Security info request from Trump campaign perturbs Cumberland County officials ahead of election
With changes and challenges to Pennsylvania’s voting system already a focal point leading up to the November election, and President Donald Trump already sowing the seeds of doubt about a surge in mail-in voting due to the pandemic, the attempt by his campaign to press county officials for compromising details on the physical security of their ballots just seemed too ham-fisted to be real.
As someone remarked to me while I was reporting the story, having the President ask for the room numbers where ballots are kept, the precise times they are moved, and the personal details of the security staff involved “sounds like the setup to a bad heist movie.”
I honestly thought rumors in the county courthouse of such an email were probably a phishing scam – until I was able to obtain a copy of the email and confirm with the Trump campaign that one of their people had indeed sent it.
“It’s almost kind of chilling the sort of data they wanted us to provide,” Cumberland County Commissioner Gary Eichelberger said. “This is basically the whole security plan."
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