Hair care professionals across the state that have yet to receive pandemic aid will have the chance to do so with a new $20 million relief package announced by Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday.
The pandemic relief will be funded through the American Rescue Plan and is open to approximately 1,200 community salons that did not receive funding through last year’s $225 million grant program for small businesses impacted by the pandemic.
The $20 million in funding will look to aid small businesses in the hair care industry and their thousands of workers who were impacted last year, said Wolf.
“This pandemic relief funding will provide direct support to these businesses, which are important to local economies and provide vital jobs in many communities,” he said.
For local salons, the funding is a good place to start after businesses faced so much uncertainty in 2020, said Mikee Bentz, owner of MetroMikee’s full service salon in Harrisburg.
“We were unsure when to shut down, how long we’d be shut down, we were the last to receive unemployment and the last group to receive vaccines, barring preexisting health conditions,” said Bentz, adding that it took trust in his company and brand to wait for the return of his clients.
“I continued paying bills and rent and utilities, and kept in touch with my loyal clientele without providing services or receiving income until eight weeks after closing,” he said.
The state previously provided emergency relief in the form of $145 million for the hospitality industry and $50 million to front-line, essential workers.
“Since the start of the pandemic, we have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in pandemic support to thousands of people with tangible, meaningful effects, but we knew more support was still critically needed,” said Neil Weaver, executive deputy secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). “We thank our small business owners who stayed strong and got creative during the pandemic, and we thank the customers who continued to show their support even during the most trying of times.