HARRISBURG – April 3, 2020 – State Senators Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) and John Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) unveiled their plan to help manufacturers retrofit their facilities to begin producing much-needed personal protection equipment (PPE) as a response to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.  

Under the senators’ proposals, manufacturers that need to borrow money to retrofit their facilities to produce PPE would receive loan guarantees from existing state programs, as well as tax credits for the costs associated with retrofitting operations. The senators began circulating the cosponsor memos for their respective bills Friday and are hopeful the state legislature can quickly move to get Pennsylvania manufacturers producing the personal protection equipment.   

“It is critical we continue to use our existing infrastructure to find solutions to this pandemic and the needs of our people,” Sen. Hughes said. “Pennsylvania businesses have already stepped up to help the larger community in response to the pandemic and we want to ensure our laws and resources can empower action across the commonwealth. The creative, collaborative response to this pandemic must continue so that we can get through this crisis together in a healthy, safe manner.”  

“Across the Commonwealth, our small businesses and manufacturers are finding creative ways to utilize their facilities to pitch in and assist in our state response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Sen. Blake said. “It is imperative that as they support our residents and our health care professionals that we provide state assistance to help retrofit facilities and increase production of personal protective equipment here in Pennsylvania.” 

Sen. Hughes’ proposal would expand the First Industries Program within the Department of Community of Economic Development’s Commonwealth Financing Authority and allow for loan guarantees to businesses that need to borrow money to retrofit facilities to produce PPE.  

Sen. Blake’s proposal would create a tax credit program for up to 100 percent of the costs manufacturers incur while retrofitting their facilities and operations to produce personal protection equipment. That program would be capped at $50 million. 
 
Senator Hughes was among a group of Pennsylvania legislators who helped distilleries across the state convert their operations to produce hand sanitizer. The hand sanitizer is being distributed to first responders free of charge. For more on the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus response to the pandemic, visit pasenate.com/COVID19.