Governor Announces $96 Million for Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

Governor Tom Wolf announced that $96 million in state grants have been awarded to 4,933 Pennsylvania small businesses that were impacted by the COVID-19 public health crisis and subsequent business closure order.

Businesses in every Pennsylvania county received grants in this first of two rounds of funding, and 2,512 grants – or 51 percent – were awarded to historically disadvantaged businesses.

“As we continue to address this public health crisis, it’s critical that we also focus on our state’s economic recovery and supporting our small businesses across the state, which continue to be impacted by our necessary mitigation efforts,” Gov. Wolf said. “This funding will go a long way to help small businesses, including historically disadvantaged businesses, at a time when they need it most.”

The COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance funding was developed in partnership with state lawmakers and allocated through the state budget, which included $2.6 billion in federal stimulus funds through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, of which $225 million was earmarked for relief for small businesses.

The Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) distributed the funds to the Pennsylvania Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), which are administering the grants through three programs: $100 million for the Main Street Business Revitalization Program, $100 million for the Historically Disadvantaged Business Revitalization Program, and $25 million for the Loan Payment Deferment and Loss Reserve Program.

“The COVID-19 pandemic unexpectedly affected small businesses across the commonwealth, an unfortunate circumstance that could not have been predicted or prepared for,” said DCED Secretary Dennis Davin. “However, through the collective action of the Wolf Administration, the General Assembly, and the CDFI Network, Pennsylvania’s hardest hit and most at-risk businesses will be able to access the funding they need to shore up their resources and regain sound financial footing as we move into recovery.”

The second and final round of funding is open starting today through 11:59 PM on Friday, August 28. Eligible applicants not awarded in the first round do not need to reapply and will be rolled into the next round for consideration. More information on the COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance Program, including how to apply, is available on DCED’s website.

“The PA CDFI Network targeted these funds to reach the smallest and most vulnerable businesses across the state and we received an immense response with close to 50,000 applications submitted in the first round and more than $860 million in total requests,” said Daniel Betancourt, chairman of the PA CDFI Network and President & CEO of Community First Fund. “We are grateful to be part of this first step with Governor Wolf and the Pennsylvania Legislature to get much needed resources to the small businesses that have been so adversely impacted by the pandemic.”

The grants may be used to cover operating expenses during the shutdown and transition to re-opening, and for technical assistance including training and guidance for business owners as they stabilize and relaunch their businesses.

“These grants and the relief they will provide are testament to what we can do when we prioritize the right initiatives,” said state Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia, Montgomery), Democratic chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “It is because of collaboration and a collective focus that today we were able to deliver help to the auto body shops, the barbershops, the beauticians, the pizza shop owners, the soul food establishments and other businesses across the commonwealth. It is critical to understand that there is still a great deal of need and must continue to direct resources and aid to our small business community to help it recover from the devastation of the pandemic.”

“I could not be more proud or more grateful for the great work of DCED and Pennsylvania’s CDFI Network in delivering substantive, fair, equitable, need-based assistance to our state’s main street and historically disadvantaged small businesses. Our program design and the accountability it provides to taxpayers and to our federal funders is a model for the nation,” said state Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe), Democratic chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “I appeal to the US Congress and to our colleagues on both sides of the aisle in Harrisburg to recognize the success of this program in assisting small businesses devastated by the pandemic and to invest further in the program so we can help even more of them.”

“Our business community has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and is in need of immediate assistance. The grant program is targeted to help small businesses manage costs, handle expenses, and stay in operation in this exceptionally difficult time,” said state Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny, Westmoreland). “Since COVID struck our state and debilitated our business community, I have been advocating for bridge grants and sought millions in aid for impacted businesses and workers. The small business assistance grants are one of the tools we can use to bolster business, maintain jobs and help workers at a time of immense distress.”

“For minority and women-owned businesses in Pennsylvania COVID-19 didn’t create a crisis, it laid bare the crisis our minority entrepreneurs have been facing for decades,” said state Rep. Jake Wheatley Jr (D-Allegheny), Democratic chairman of the House Finance Committee. “While I’m glad to see the positive impact of these grants and I urge all local community businesses to apply for the next round of grants, we need to expand investment in programs like this because it’s long past time for the legislature to address the systemic flaws that are leaving too many marginalized people behind.”

“The burden that COVID-19 has put on business owners, employees and families in southeast Pennsylvania gets heavier every day,” said state Rep. Chris Sappey (D-Chester). “At this point, when we talk about addressing the pandemic, we must not only fight it with masks and social distancing, but we also must equally and strongly support our business community, where this fight for our health and safety actually is taking place. Commerce and industry must survive this virus, as well. Pennsylvania needs this aid now, and my office is eager to work with any business that needs help applying.”

Welcome Weis Markets- #192 Bloomsburg

More than 430 businesses and organizations belong to the Chamber to receive benefits and support efforts to strengthen their businesses and the region. Increased membership allows the Chamber to offer additional programs and benefits, have a stronger voice in advocacy and be involved in more activities and initiatives. The Chamber welcomes Weis Markets #192- Bloomsburg.

Weis Markets is a grocery retailer that was founded in 1912. Currently, they employ approximately 19,000 associates throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, and West Virginia in their stores, distribution centers, corporate office, and manufacturing facilities.  Their corporate office is located in Sunbury, PA.  The company has a long-standing history with local communities, growers, and food banks. 

To learn more about Weis Markets visit their website.

Welcome Tyler Bloom Workforce & Leadership Consulting

More than 430 businesses and organizations belong to the Chamber to receive benefits and support efforts to strengthen their businesses and the region. Increased membership allows the Chamber to offer additional programs and benefits, have a stronger voice in advocacy and be involved in more activities and initiatives. The Chamber welcomes Tyler Bloom Consulting.

Tyler Bloom Consulting is a local, privately owned workforce and leadership consulting firm, that is focused on aligning business strategy with talent strategy for the long term. They design, diagnose, hire, and inspire high performing teams.  Some of their focus areas include: Leadership and Managerial Training, Apprenticeship Program Services, Assistant and Staff Recruiting Services, Career Development and Marketing Strategy, Member and Customer Relations, Social Media Training, and Communication Training.  

To learn more about their services, visit their website, or Facebook page.

Employers Asked for Input on In-demand Occupations

Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education held a workforce summit in November of 2019, where over 80 CEOs and Chief Human Resource Officers met to align on definitions and competencies needed to build a talent pipeline. The State System then heard from national funders about their interest in learning more about the Commonwealth’s regional differences both in-and-across six high demand industries of advanced manufacturing, healthcare, finance, energy, information technology, and agri-business. 

The next step is to develop and hold Pennsylvania’s Regional Workforce Assemblies in September 2020.  The four assemblies have the following objectives and are designed to benefit the Commonwealth by building synergies and partnerships across various job sectors and areas of expertise:

1) to understand the regional differences across the Commonwealth both within and across six high demand industry clusters;

2) to develop competency maps with an embedded quality assurance framework wrap around that then become useful tools for curriculum and skills development;

3) to pilot the competency curriculum through the upskilling and reskilling of adult learners;

4) to create a competency model that could be scaled Statewide

Prior to the first meeting, employers in these industry sectors are being asked to provide updated input via a survey by August 7th.  The survey will only take 10-15 minutes to complete and is available at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Prepared4PA

Across the six industries and four regions in Pennsylvania, the objectives of the survey are to:

  • Validate the top in-demand occupations that were collected from traditional labor market information, real-time labor market information, O*Net industry clusters, and feedback gathered from the Pennsylvania Prepares Workforce Summit,
  • Gain insight into the relationships and partnerships between industry and higher education, and
  • Understand talent pipeline challenges

The results will be used during the Regional Workforce Assemblies to articulate regional workforce demands across Pennsylvania and inform competencies to skills mapping needed for successful transitions in the workforce. Recognizing the importance of addressing the impacts on our workforce of both COVID -19 and a focus on inclusivity and diversity, facilitated sessions at the Workforce Assemblies will be dedicated to these issues. 

 

Local & State Financial Assistance Application Deadlines are This Month

Businesses in Columbia and Montour counties can apply for financial assistance through several programs. Application deadlines are on various dates in the month of August.

The Commissioners in each county have allocated dollars from the CARES Act to provide financial assistance in the form of grants for up to five months of fixed costs for small and tourism-oriented businesses.

Businesses that received funds through either the Paycheck Protection Program or Economic Injury Disaster Loan program are eligible for funding through these county programs. Businesses that did not receive funds through either of these programs are eligible for an additional 5%.

Columbia County businesses can receive up to $100,000 and the application deadline is 11:59 p.m. on Monday, August 10th.

Montour County businesses can receive up to $15,000 and the application deadline is 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, August 18th.

Additional details and the applications are available through the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation’s website.

For questions about the grant application, contact Christine Orlando, CSCF Senior Program Officer, [email protected],  570-752-3930, ext. 2.

Programs for non-profit organizations in the two counties will be announced later in August.

The COVID-19 Relief Pennsylvania Statewide Small Business Assistance program provides grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000. The second application window will open at 9:00 a.m. on August 10th and will remain open for 15 business days closing at 11:59 p.m. on August 28th.

If you applied during the first application window, you do not need to reapply. Qualified applications will be automatically rolled over into the next funding round for consideration.

In order to get funds to businesses in need as quickly as possible, the second application window will be the final opportunity to apply for the program. The grant awards for businesses in the second application window will be made in two decision rounds for funding.

Click here for additional details about the program.

Columbia County businesses should apply at reinvestment.com.

Montour County businesses should apply at impactservices.org.

Businesses can also apply for loans of at least $10,000 with an interest rate of 3.25% through SEDA-COG. Funds can be used for working capital and can be disbursed based on past working capital expenses. No payments are due in the first six months. The U.S. Economic Development Administration recently awarded an additional $6.3 million for this program.

There is a $500 underwriting fee and a $100 filing fee.

For more information, visit https://seda-cog.org/covid-19/ or contact SEDA-COG’s Business Finance Department at [email protected].

The Federal PPP program is also open until August 8th, though it is anticipated that the next Federal relief package will provide additional funding.