An increase in restrictions is producing an impact on the Daviess County economy. Changes have added to the hit the hospitality and food industry has been working with.

“I think all of us in the business community appreciate what our health officials are doing to try and protect everyone, but those limits do have real impacts,” said Bryant Niehoff, executive director for the Daviess County Economic Development Corporation.

The Daviess County Health Department ordered that all restaurants, bars and taverns operate with social distancing and mask wearing.

That same order has put recommendations of masks and social distancing on people at social gatherings, funerals and gyms.

As businesses have begun the feel the pinch from the coronavirus, they have begun reaching out for help. The Daviess County EDC is administering $500,000 in Office of Community and Rural Affairs grants in COVID relief in the county.

“As we see more restrictions, we begin to see more requests for those grants,” said Niehoff. “Right now, we have 16 applications that we are reviewing and we are still taking more applications through our office. A lot of them are in food service, but it’s not exclusive. We are getting applications for manufacturing and logistics as well.”

Under the current grant program, the county is offering up to $5,000 in grant dollars for businesses with 20 or fewer employees, $7,500 for those with 21 to 40 employees and up to $10,000 for businesses with 41 to 100 workers.

“We are seeing a broad cross-section of companies looking for these grants,” said Niehoff. “We are doing all we can to help and it is great for us to be able to do that. This is helping sustain our economy until COVID lets us get back to something more normal.”

Niehoff is calling the year-end economy “complicated.”

“You look at Wall Street and it is setting records, then you look at a place like Orange County that depends heavily on the hospitality industry and you wonder how anyone can eat,” he said. “Our economy is pretty diverse, so we are getting by. Our unemployment rate (2.9%) is the lowest in the state for the seventh straight month and that helps. I know we keep hearing about a vaccine. I hope that we can get that distributed. That is a light at the end of the tunnel that could give us a better idea of where the economy is.”

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