A professionally diverse, volunteer task force of Bucks County business experts has been working quietly in recent weeks to help pave the way for sustained economic recovery once Gov. Tom Wolf agrees to lift the county from his COVID-19 stay-at-home order.
The Bucks County Economic Recovery Task Force, assembled by County Commissioner Bob Harvie earlier this month, assisted in compiling content for Bucks County businesses, employees and consumers to use as guidance to prepare for the anticipated “yellow phase” outlined by Wolf. The “Preparation for Yellow Phase: County Guidance” information can be found on the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Portal at covid19-bucksgis.hub.arcgis.com/pages/bucks-covid-19-economic-resources.
Task force members also helped organize and promote a recent business webinar focused on the Bucks Back to Work Small Business Grant, a plan to distribute at least $6 million in federal funding to small businesses struggling to survive the shutdown.
The grants, paid from a portion of the county’s federal CARES Act funding, will provide qualifying businesses with up to $25,000 or 25 percent of annual operating expenses, whichever is lower. The money will go exclusively to small business owners and sole proprietors who have been negatively affected by COVID-19.
Details of the grant program can be found at buckscounty.org/government/CommunityServices/BacktoWorkGrantProgam.
Harvie put together the task force to harness the knowledge, networks and creativity of its members to help guide the county’s government and businesses out of the current shutdown.
“I want to personally thank task force members for sharing their personal knowledge and professional expertise as the county implements our economic response to COVID-19,” Harvie said. “There are no easy decisions in these unprecedented times. The guidance and insight provided by each member of the task force has been invaluable.”
Members are working to identify and overcome obstacles that businesses are most likely to encounter as they begin to reopen, and to recommend steps for them to take, such as policies to develop, internal and external communications, staying informed of new developments, planning their reopening level of operation, and identifying supplies they will need.
The task force is also identifying the most effective ways for county government to assist this process, and to develop effective methods of disseminating information to businesses and the public.
Members of the task force are:
– Billie Barnes, Director, Bucks County Workforce Development Board
– Paul Bencivengo, President and Chief Operating Officer, Visit Bucks County
– Danielle Bodnar, Executive Director, Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce
– Vail Garvin, Executive Director, Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce
– Richard Harvey, Director, Bucks County Agricultural Land Preservation and Open Space Program
– Patrick Kennedy, Vice President, Superior Woodcraft Inc.
– Margie McKevitt, Chief Operating Officer, County of Bucks
– Jon Mercer, Founder, Stacks Co.
– Minesh Pathak, Executive Director, Lower Bucks Chamber of Commerce
– Tom Tosti, Supervisor, Middletown Township; Chair, AFL-CIO Central Labor Council
– Jeane Vidoni, President and Chief Executive Officer, Penn Community Bank
– Steve Wray, Chair, Bucks County Transition Subcommittee on Economic Development
“As the CEO of a community-first bank headquartered in Bucks County, I understand the toll that the coronavirus pandemic is taking on our community,” said Vidoni. “For residents and businesses in Bucks County, it is crucial that local stakeholders work together to effectively respond to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. I am proud to be a member of this task force and play a role in this critical effort.”