MANCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The world is returning to normalcy after two years of the COVID pandemic.

On the outside, it may appear as though businesses are back to normal and thriving again. But some are taking longer to bounce back. Ontario County businesses are getting an opportunity to build back stronger than ever with a new grant.

The Ontario County Economic Development Corporation and Finger Lakes Visitors Connection are offering $1 million in grants from the federal CARES funds.

Reinvention Brewing Co. is one of those receiving additional resources.

“The last few years have been difficult for all businesses, but especially restaurants and breweries,” said Aldrich.

Aldrich says during the worst of the pandemic, it was hard to get quick aid. He’s also one of many who applied for the federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund, and never heard back.

Now that the worst of the pandemic is over, other challenges are emerging.

Supply chain issues, staffing and having to cut back on pre-pandemic costs.

“All of our raw material costs have gone up, aluminum cans, there’s been a shortage of those,” Aldrich said.

It’s a slow progression towards where he’d like to be: more live music, expansions, and projects. But he says the future is looking brighter with this new grant program.

“People are rebuilding businesses, seeing a lot of hope for the future,” said Valerie Knoblauch, President of Finger Lakes Visitors Connection.

Knoblauch says many businesses are taking what they’ve learned from the pandemic into 2022.

“I think our visitors have become heartier and our industry is able to meet that,” she said. “I remember driving down main street during the pandemic, on my clock it said 39 degrees and there were people sitting under the heat lamps, and that never would’ve happened before,” said Knoblauch.

“We’ve done a lot of partnering with other local small businesses, different events to draw people out, we’ve partnered with Dainty Donut Factory for donut and beer pairing,” Aldrich said. “Annually we do a girl scout cookie beer pairing, over the winter we did a curling event with the Rochester Curling Club.”

For Aldrich, this money could mean more live music, and an opportunity to expand their backyard for an outdoor beer garden.

Knoblauch says there are a few information sessions for people to learn more about the grant and how to apply. Head to this link for more.