Erie represents roughly four percent of Pennsylvania's population. 

But when it came time to distribute the first round of the Community Development Financial Institution grants, that population percentage didn't translate equally. 

Erie County, according to information from the CDFI Network, received 76 of 4,933 grants statewide. This translates into roughly 1.6% of the total grants given out. 

Erie County also received about $1.4 million of nearly $100 million rolled out from the program, still significantly less than the population ratio. 

The formula to give out the grants, however, was not based on population. It was based on eligible businesses. 

The CDFI Network told Erie News Now that just over 18,000 businesses were eligible under the "Mainstreet Business" sector of the program. This sector was allocated $50 million, and included businesses that were severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The other sector of funding was for historically disadvantaged businesses, which also had a pool of $50 million. The main goal of this sector was to fund businesses owned by minority owners, or owned by women. 

So, of the roughly 18,000 eligible Erie businesses, 41 were funded in the "Mainstreet" category, meaning businesses who were eligible for that pool of money would have had roughly a 0.2% chance of being funded, if every eligible business applied. 

We looked at the business size of that size, 20 or fewer employees in that county, divided by that total population", said Dan Betancourt, Chair of the CDFI Network. "So, we used that percentage as a proxy to determine how many applications should be approved for mainstreet, and how many should be approved for the historically disadvantaged". 

One of the owners who did not get funded is named Laura Eaton. She owns Floral Gallary on State Street.

We asked her if she had any idea of why she was not selected for a grant. She didn't have an answer. 

"I have no idea, I have no idea why we weren't chosen, there were very few people in our area that got the grant to begin with", said Eaton. 

Eaton also believes the process made it so that Erie businesses didn't have a fair chance to get funded. 

"Here we are, up in Northwestern Pennsylvania, forgotten again, and it's just not fair", Eaton said. "Yes, I understand people in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and everywhere else need money too, but we pay taxes, and we deserve help up here".

Jim Burnett, Vice Chair of the CDFI Network, however, says the process was fair. The CDFI's did not include the name of the business while deciding on how the funding was to be spent. They did this to eliminate bias from certain CDFI's.

"If you came from my [CDFI] portfolio, I didn't know it, because the only thing we saw was an account number", Burnett said.

But that didn't mean certain areas wouldn't be left out. "Unfortunately, when you have a billion dollars worth of applications, at some point, you have to tell somebody no", said Burnett.

There will be an upcoming round of funding that will also total $100 million dollars, for the same purpose as round one. Applications for the funds are due at the end of the month. 

If a business has already applied in the first round, such as Floral Gallary, it does not have to apply again. The first application will automatically be considered the second time around. 

This story was supported by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.