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Applications now open for East Palestine business assistance

Published By Salem News on August 5, 2023
Monica Robb Blasdel In The News

EAST PALESTINE — Businesses wishing to request assistance from the East Palestine Emergency Support Program can now do so online, the Ohio Department of Development announced on Thursday.

 Applications can be accessed at Businesses can now view, complete and save their application with the official submission of applications set to begin at 10 a.m. on Aug. 24. Funding will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, state Sen. Michael Rulli (R-Salem) and state Rep. Monica Robb Blasdel (R-Columbiana County) announced the emergency support program, which allocates up to $5 million to assist East Palestine businesses impacted by the February train derailment, in June.

The program will provide zero-interest, forgivable loans to businesses to assist with ongoing expenses and recovery efforts associated with the derailment. To be eligible for the program, for-profit and non-profit businesses must be located within a 2-mile radius of East Palestine in Ohio and operational on or prior to Dec. 1, 2022. Loans ranging from $10,000 to $1 million with up to a 15-year term with no principal due for up to the first two years of the loan term will be eligible for forgiveness if used for payroll, employee benefits, rent or mortgage payments, utility expenses, worker protection related to the train derailment (protective gear, remediation measures, improvement of indoor air quality/upgrades to HVAC systems) and inventory replacement expenses associated with disaster.

Loan amounts may not exceed the business’ 2022 gross revenue and personal residence expenses are not eligible. In addition, eligible businesses must be in good standing with the Ohio Secretary of State, the Ohio Department of Taxation, and any other governmental entity charged with regulating the business and be in active operations. Evidence supporting economic injury is required.

The Ohio Department of Development encourages all eligible businesses to apply and to work with local partners for assistance on completing the application. Program partners are the Columbiana County Port Authority (, Small Business Development Center at Kent State Tuscarawas ( and Small Business Development Center at Youngstown State University (

The East Palestine Emergency Support Program was created in partnership with the Ohio General Assembly with funds from the Controlling Board Emergency Purposes/Contingencies Fund.

In other business-revitalization news, Norfolk Southern announced Thursday it will provide a grant of $500,000 to support economic development in East Palestine. The grant will fund the hiring of an independent, private-sector economic development consultant who will be hired by and work for the village.

Details on the railroad’s grant program will be released by the village at a later date.

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