Phil Armstrong is the Lehigh County Executive, and Commissioner Geoff Brace is the Chair of the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners.
President Abraham Lincoln once said, “The most reliable way to predict the future is to create it.” In Lehigh County, we are working to create a brighter future by wisely using money from the American Rescue Plan to Build Back Better. Recently, your county leaders agreed to invest approximately $31M to aid in those efforts by placing a premium on small business recovery, and making improvements at Cedarbrook Skilled Nursing to keep vulnerable seniors safe.
Throughout 2020 and the early months of 2021, small businesses struggled mightily. Last year, we pumped $8.5M into small businesses, and we know it kept many open. The people who are the backbone of our community will continue to struggle until customers feel comfortable going back to normal with face-to-face interaction. While many of us are already doing that thanks to the miracles of vaccination, we know businesses are going to struggle for a while. That is why your county leaders agreed to make $10.2M in funding available to small businesses affected by the pandemic, to help them fully recover from the economic shock we just experienced. We need small businesses in our community. They are the drivers of job creation and long-term growth. They support our community and now it is up to us to help support them.
In the early months of the pandemic, nursing homes were ravaged by COVID-19. The nurses and staff worked tirelessly to keep people safe and help them recover if an outbreak happened in a facility. That is especially true at Cedarbrook. The county sustained significant financial loss through the pandemic as the number of residents declined due to decreased admissions. Other costs—especially protective equipment and overtime costs—increased. Cedarbrook provides world-class health care to our Lehigh County residents who need it and they deserve nothing less. That is why we are committing $4M to maintain the highest care at Cedarbrook for 2021. Additionally, we are committing $8M on top of the estimated $60M already committed to ensure completion of a state-of-the art expansion at the South Whitehall facility. With construction and material costs rising, Lehigh County wants seniors to know the facility available to them is safe and something we can afford to do because of the American Rescue Plan.
While small business support and Cedarbrook will receive the lion’s share of our commitment, the work does not stop there. We have committed $1M to help non-profit organizations that have served those in need, to help them recover. We will work with local health partners to provide additional public health services that were not previously available to Lehigh County residents. We will make improvements to county operations to better serve residents. We will add more job training and community services to keep people out of jail and address youth violence. We will add new housing Government Center 17 South Seventh Street Allentown, Pennsylvania 18101-2401 services to give people a place to call home. Finally, we will finish restoration of the Historic Lehigh County Courthouse and help make renovations on Coca Cola Park, home of your Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.
These are ambitious plans and they should be. The global pandemic created a massive earthquake. Our job as Americans is to build back better. Thanks to President Joe Biden and leaders in Washington like Congresswoman Susan Wild and Senator Bob Casey we have the financial resources to do it. Your leaders in Lehigh County are committed to doing the job right because that is what you expect from us.