Blake Announces Nearly $4 Million in Regional Grant Funding

SCRANTON, August 17, 2020 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today announced nearly $4 million in state grant funding for 13 projects that address sewer, stormwater and flood control issues across the region.

The grant funding, approved today at a meeting of the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA), was made available through the Department of Community and Economic Development under the Small Water and Sewer Grant Program and the H2O PA grant program.

“I am pleased that the state continues to partner with local municipalities to ensure our communities can address urgent issues relating to sewer, stormwater and flood control,” Blake said. “The nearly $4 million announced today for communities across NEPA is welcome news.  I applaud the Wolf Administration for their continued commitment to funding infrastructure and public safety projects across the Commonwealth.”

Blake noted that he worked closely with state Reps. Mike Carroll, Marty Flynn, Bridget Kosierowski and Kyle Mullins in advocating for these grant awards.

The following projects in the 22nd Senatorial District received funding through the Small Water and Sewer Program:

  • Springbrook Township Sewer Authority received $424,207 to replace the lagoon liner and existing ultraviolet light system located in Roaring Brook Township. This project addresses a mandate by PA DEP to lower ammonia levels in the effluent the treatment plant is discharging into Green Run Stream.
  • The Duryea Borough Sewer Authority received $411,152 to install public sewer service to multiple residential and commercial properties located along Clark Road in the borough.
  • The Greenfield Township Sewer Authority received $400,000 to make a number of much-needed upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant to improve service reliability, safety conditions, and provide back-up power in accordance with regulatory requirements
  • Moosic Borough received $394,149 to install new sanitary sewer lines at Church St. and Snyder Ct. and at Cross-County Rear Birney Ave.
  • Avoca Borough received $312,800 to extend the existing storm sewer system on McAlpine St. from Grove St. to Winans Ct.
  • Clarks Summit Borough received $246,313 to replace 805 linear feet of storm water pipes on West Grove St. and replace seven inlets. This section of stormwater infrastructure will connect two sections replaced in 2018 under a PennDOT Emergency HOP issued due to stormwater pipe failure leading to sinkholes
  • Olyphant Borough received $230,000 to update and improve the sanitary sewer system at six locations in the borough
  • Jessup Borough received $225,205 to separate the sanitary sewer and stormwater lines along Bridge St. in the borough.
  • The City of Scranton received $179,575 to replace the failing Bloom Avenue Culvert at Leach Creek
  • Jermyn Borough received $70,153 to replace approximately 402 linear feet of sanitary sewer lines along Bacon Street

The Small Water and Sewer Program awards grants to municipalities and municipal authorities for water, sewer, storm water and flood control projects. The program requires matching funds totaling at least 15% of the amount awarded.

The following projects were funded under the H2O PA grant program:

  • Dupont Borough received $507,926 to rehabilitate an existing flood mitigation channel to increase the life-span, and protect surrounding and downstream areas
  • Jessup Borough received $319,584 to separate the sanitary and storm water outflows by installing new storm water lines for individual storm and sewer system on Front St. and Ward St.
  • Clarks Summit Borough received $200,000 to implement Urban Stream Restoration as the structural stormwater Best Management Practice along 1,000 linear feet of stream corridor of an unnamed tributary to Ackerly Creek from Marion Street to Bedford Street, an area prone to flooding

The H2O PA program provides single-year and multi-year grants for the construction of drinking water, sanitary sewer and storm sewer projects; the construction or renovation of flood control projects; and the repair or rehabilitation of high-hazard unsafe dams. The program requires matching funds totaling at least 50% of the amount awarded.

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Blake: $200 Million in Small Business Grants Available Beginning Today

Blake: $200 Million in Small Business Grants Available Beginning Today

SCRANTON, June 30, 2020 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today announced that beginning at 9 a.m. today, small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic can begin applying for $200 million in federal grants available through the COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance program. 

This statewide Small Business Assistance program will provide grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 to small businesses that have been economically impacted by COVID-19. Locally, applications will be accepted through MetroAction and at www.metroaction.org.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic began to impact our communities and our economy, I knew we had to do something to ensure small businesses – our mom and pop Main Street stores, our barbers and neighborhood bars and restaurants – were able to find a way to pull through to the other side of the pandemic,” Blake said. “We fought for and we advocated for a main street grant program since April and today I am proud to see $200 million in grant funding – not loans – will be made available to our small businesses – small businesses which have always been the backbone of our economy, a source of community pride, and a place of employment for so many of our friends.”

Blake noted that unlike previous small business grant and loan programs, this is not a first-come, first-served program, it will be based on need. The initial application window will open today and remain open for 10 days. There will be at least three or more rounds of applications in the coming months.

In order to be eligible for grant funding, a business must be physically located in PA; be certified to do business here; generate at least 51% of their revenues in Pennsylvania; have annual revenue of $1 million or less prior to the impact of COVID-19; and have 25 or fewer full-time equivalent employees prior to February 15, 2020.

Blake indicated, again, that this is only the first round of the grant program and that additional rounds of funding and application windows will be announced in the months ahead.

For more information on the program, visit www.pabusinessgrants.com

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Sen. Blake Statement on Passage of $25.789 Billion Interim State Budget and CARES Funding

SCRANTON, May 28, 2020 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today released the following statement regarding passage of a $25.789 billion interim state budget that accounts for five months of spending for most appropriations. The interim budget fully funds for 12 months all education-related line items, including higher education, at 100% of the current FY 2019-20 enacted levels.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to inflict damage in our personal lives and on our state’s economy, it was imperative that the legislature and the Governor work together for a responsible, interim solution that focuses on predictability and necessity”

“The interim 2020-21 spending plan rightly prioritizes education, workforce development and social services. This budget allocates level funding to basic education, early childhood education, special education and higher education through the next fiscal year. It is imperative that, as our schools plan for a safe return to in-person instruction in the Fall, that there is no uncertainty in their finances. This funding commitment protects our schools, our students and our taxpayers while also leaving open the possibility to increase funding when we return to finish a final ‘20-‘21 state budget later this year.”

“There are over 2 million Pennsylvanians who are now unemployed and investments in education, workforce development and job training are critically important to getting Pennsylvanians back to work safely.”

“It is estimated that the Commonwealth will fall $5 billion short of expected revenues this year. The bipartisan passage of this interim spending plan allows us to budget responsibly within our line of sight.  It also affords the General Assembly an opportunity to reassess revenue estimates later this year and to monitor the very real prospect for additional federal aid for state, county, school district and municipal budget shortfalls.”

Blake also commented on the passage of legislation that allocates approximately $2.6 billion of federal CARES Act funds that must be spent on coronavirus-related costs and expenses. To-date, Pennsylvania has received approximately $3.9 billion from the Coronavirus Relief Fund.

“Since April, we have called for the release of CARES funds to create a grant program for our small business community; to fund our nursing homes and health care facilities; and to compensate counties for their own COVID-related expenses.  The passage of Senate Bill 1108 moves out $2.6 billion in federal aid to relieve the tremendous pressure that many of our organizations, businesses and local governments have been feeling since mid-March. Important also is that the interim spending plan and the release of federal aid commits to making whole the state’s property tax relief fund which had lost nearly $300 million due to the closure of Pennsylvania’s casinos during the pandemic.”

“Finally, today’s legislation allocates $225 million for our recently announced Main Street Business Revitalization program that will provide grant funding to Pennsylvania small businesses with fewer than 25 employees. Our Main Street small businesses across the Commonwealth have struggled throughout the pandemic and this grant funding will give them an opportunity to get back on track and to heal some of the financial hardship inflicted on them during this public health crisis.”

Blake noted that the Main Street Business Revitalization program will be run through US Treasury designated Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), such as MetroAction in Lackawanna County, and it will provide grants of up to $100,000 to compensate small business owners for the adverse financial consequences of COVID-19. Each CDFI will create a single application available for eligible main street businesses and eligible historically disadvantaged businesses to apply for grants; and funds must be spent by November 30, 2020.

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Sen. Blake, Caucus Leaders Unveil Plans for $550 Million Small Business Grant Program

SCRANTON, May 22, 2020 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today joined Senate Democratic leaders to propose a $550 million Main Street Business Revitalization Initiative that will allocate grants using federal CARES Act funding to small businesses across Pennsylvania.

The proposal includes $425 million for traditional main street businesses, and $125 million for historically disadvantaged and economically distressed communities and neighborhoods. Pennsylvania has received nearly $4 billion from the federal government that must be spent or allocated by December 31, 2020.

“Our small businesses – restaurants, barbershops, cafes, bakeries, boutiques – are the heartbeat of our communities and the backbone of our economy,” Blake said. “Throughout the pandemic, their bills have continued to mount despite limited or no sales at all, insufficient income, and, to-date, inadequate support and funding from the federal stimulus package.”

This is about healing the damage already done by the current crisis.  The Main Street Business Revitalization Initiative is a retroactive way to address the serious challenges of the small business community caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This initiative will be run by Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) who a demonstrated capacity to focus on the critical needs of small businesses.

“Our proposal will provide $550 million in grants to Main Street small business owners throughout the state using Pennsylvania’s share of the federal CARES Act COVID-19 relief package,” Blake added. “It will allow small business owners to pay health care premiums, insurance policy premiums, rent, loan payments, real estate tax payments, as well as covering some of the costs that must be incurred to ensure the safety of workers and customers as businesses reopen.”

Eligible businesses will include barbers, salons, restaurants, bars, taverns, retailers, coffee shops, neighborhood hardware stores, garden shops, realtors, childcare facilities and the numerous other small businesses – all with 20 employees or less – who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Senators indicated that the proposal will be formally introduced in the near future. For more information on the Senate Democratic plan to utilize federal CARES funding, visit www.pasenate.com/pacares.

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Blake Announces $1.49 Million Grant for Dupont Natural Gas Project

SCRANTON, May 14, 2020 – State Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today announced a $1.49 million dollar state Pipeline Investment Program grant for the installation of 20,600 feet of natural gas line in Dupont Borough.

The project is a partnership between the Greater Wilkes-Barre Industrial Fund and UGI. UGI will contribute $1.49 million in matching funds to complete the nearly $3 million project.

“Pennsylvania is the second largest US producer of natural gas and it is imperative that we continue to fund projects that can deliver this low-cost, homegrown resource to families and businesses across the Commonwealth,” Blake said. “I applaud the Greater Wilkes-Barre Industrial Fund and UGI for their partnership and work on this important project for Borough residents and businesses.” 

This project will provide natural gas to 323 parcels, including eight commercial and 315 residential properties in Dupont Borough. This is Phase 3 of the project and entails the construction of 20,600 feet of natural gas distribution main along various streets within the borough. The installation of the gas line will help retain 35 jobs for existing commercial customers along the route and also provide natural gas to the under-construction 36-unit Dupont Housing for the Elderly facility.

The funding was approved today at a meeting of the Commonwealth Financing Authority. The Pipeline Investment Program is facilitated by the Department of Community and Economic Development and provides grants to construct the last few miles of natural gas distribution lines to business parks, existing manufacturing and industrial enterprises, which will result in the creation of new economic base jobs in the commonwealth while providing access to natural gas for residents.

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