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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