PA Senate Democrats & CDFI Network Announce $96 Million in Small Business Grants

PA Senate Democrats & CDFI Network Announce $96 Million in Small Business Grants

Statewide, Pa. – August 10, 2020 – The Pennsylvania CDFI Network and the PA State Senator Democrats today announced $96 million in grant awards under the COVID-19 Relief Pennsylvania Statewide Small Business Assistance program. The small businesses that have been approved for awards span all 67 Pennsylvania counties.

“These grants and the relief they will provide are testament to what we can do when we prioritize the right initiatives,” said Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery). “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. And though we are gathering today virtually to recognize the positive impact these grants will have, 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.”

Main Street Business Assistance - Round 1 ResultsThe program is part of $225 million in statewide relief championed by the senate democratic caucus in June to support small businesses economically impacted by the pandemic. The first application round drew a strong response with nearly 24,000 applications.

“We’ve seen the impact of this pandemic-fueled economic crisis on the small businesses in our communities and in the immense response to the program in the first round of applications,” said Daniel Betancourt, President & CEO of Community First Fund and Chair of the PA CDFI Network. “The PA CDFI Network is grateful for the partnership of Governor Wolf and the Pennsylvania Legislature as we move quickly to get these resources into the hands of those most impacted by the crisis.”

Of the close to 5,000 small businesses approved in the first round of funding, 50% are historically disadvantaged businesses that have traditionally experienced discrimination when seeking financial services and financial products. Over 2,400 of the businesses are also in communities targeted for business investment by state government programs like Main Street and Elm Street.

“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,” Senator Blake (D-Lackawanna) said. “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.”

The program has targeted getting grants to small businesses with the greatest need and to be eligible to apply businesses had to have less than $1M in revenue and less than 25 employees. Grants ranged in size from $5,000 to $50,000 based on the revenue size of the business.   More than 2,300 of the grantee business owners are low-moderate income.

“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 Senator Brewster (D-Allegheny). “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.”

More than two thirds of the approved awardees are women-owned businesses and 16 percent located in rural communities. The businesses represent industries that have been especially hard hit by the pandemic including retail, food and hospitality, health and wellness, and personal care.

Industry Applications Approved Amount  (Millions)
Restaurants & Other Eating Places 1,608

$25.80

Drinking Places (Alcoholic Beverages) 202

$4.63

Personal Care Services 1,001

$24.52

Other Amusement and Rec. Industries 180

$3.46

Totals 2,991

$58.41

“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,” House Democratic Finance Committee Chairman Jake Wheatley Jr (D-Allegheny) said. “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 second grant application window for the relief funds opened today, August 10, and will remain open for 15 business days closing at 11:59PM on August 28.

“Our small business owners need our help and support,” said state Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-Chester. “After limited or even no sales due to the virus for almost five months, it would be unfair to let them suffer alone without any intervention. These grants give our small businesses hope and, I am here with my democratic colleagues to provide them whatever help they need to address this pandemic. Our business owners, their employees, and their families deserve our assistance.”

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. Qualified applicants not awarded in the first round do not need to reapply and will be rolled into the next round for consideration.

Eligible small businesses can apply online at pabusinessgrants.com or through any one of the 17 Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) that are part of the Pennsylvania CDFI Network.

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 About the PA CDFI Network

The PA CDFI Network is a coalition of 17 PA-based community development financial institutions that primarily provide financing options for small businesses. The members of the coalition are as follows:

The Progress Fund (Counties Served: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Fayette, Forest, Fulton, Greene, Huntingdon, Indiana, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Potter, Somerset, Tioga, Venango, Warren, Washington, Westmoreland)

Bridgeway Capital (Counties Served: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Clarion, Crawford, Erie, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Mercer, Venango, Washington, Westmoreland)

Northside Community Development Fund (Counties Served: Allegheny, Beaver, Greene, Lawrence, Washington)

 Metro Action (Counties Served: Carbon, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Schuylkill, Susquehanna, Wayne, Wyoming)

Rising Tide Community Loan Fund  (Counties Served: Bradford, Bucks, Carbon, Columbia, Lehigh, Monroe, Northampton)

ASSETS (Counties Served: Berks, Juniata, Lancaster, Mifflin, Snyder, York)

Community First Fund (Counties Served: Adams, Berks, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Perry, Philadelphia, York)

Reinvestment Fund (Counties Served: All Counties)

PIDC Community Capital (Counties Served: Philadelphia)

Impact Loan Fund (Counties Served: Montgomery, Montour, Northumberland, Philadelphia)

Beech Capital (Counties Served: Bucks, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Montgomery, Philadelphia, York)

West Philadelphia Financial Services Institution (Counties Served: Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Philadelphia)

Enterprise Center Capital (Counties Served: Berks, Bucks, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia)

Neighborhood Progress Fund (Counties Served: Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Philadelphia)

Entrepreneur Works (Counties Served: Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Philadelphia)

Women’s Opportunities Resource Center (Counties Served: Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Philadelphia, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Wyoming)

United Bank (Counties Served: Blair, Bucks, Cambria, Chester, Delaware, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Montgomery, Philadelphia, Union)

The members of the Executive Committee of the network are:

  • Daniel Betancourt, Community First Fund — Chair
  • James Burnett, West Philadelphia Financial Services Institution — Vice Chair
  • Lynne Cutler, Women’s Opportunities Resource Center (WORC) — Vice Chair
  • Leslie Benoliel, Entrepreneur Works — Treasurer
  • Mark Masterson, Northside Community Development Fund — Secretary
  • Chris Hudock, Rising Tide Loan Fund — Assistant Treasurer
PA Senate Democrats Announce $225 Million for Small Business Assistance Grants Statewide

PA Senate Democrats Announce $225 Million for Small Business Assistance Grants Statewide

HARRISBURG – June 8, 2020 – Members of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus announced the direction of $225 million in federal CARES Act funding to aid small businesses across the commonwealth.  This funding was authorized by the recently enacted COVID-19 Emergency Supplement to the General Appropriation Act of 2019 and was a centerpiece of the caucus’ PA CARES Plan.

The aid will be distributed as follows: $100 million is set to go to the Main Street Business Revitalization Program, $100 million to the Historically Disadvantaged Business Revitalization Program, and $25 million for loan payment deferment and loss reserves for loans impacted by COVID-19. The aid will be directed by the Department of Community and Economic Development to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI), which are intimately familiar with the needs of the most vulnerable small businesses in our communities.

“I want to thank Governor Wolf for engaging leadership in the General Assembly to inform the process of moving federal aid out to those who have been most harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic. I also want to thank the leadership of the Senate Democratic caucus who worked with our members to formulate a strategic plan for the deployment of nearly $4 billion in federal assistance,” said state Senator John Blake (D-Lackawanna). “The Main Street Business Revitalization program is a reflection of that cooperation and leadership and it will meet Pennsylvania’s small business owners where they are, on Main Street, after nearly three months of lost or no sales. It will enable small business owners throughout the commonwealth to meet their insurance payments, rents, health insurance premiums, local taxes and other expenses that they otherwise could not meet due to lost sales. Finally, I want to thank the 17 CDFIs throughout the state as well as DCED for their professionalism, agility, urgency and dedication to getting this federal funding to the small businesses who need it most as quickly as possible.”

Eligible businesses will apply through one of the CDFI Network partners and will have to have been operating on or before February 15, 2020, and must have paid taxes to state and federal governments. Qualifying main street and historically disadvantaged small businesses must have 25 or fewer employees and experienced losses as a result of Gov. Tom Wolf’s March 19 stay-at-home order. Organizations seeking grants from the historically disadvantaged small businesses program must also be 51 percent owned and managed by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.

“The announcement of the Main Street and Historically Disadvantaged Business Revitalization Programs will provide welcomed relief for mom and pop businesses in neighborhoods across the commonwealth,” said State Senator Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery). “Since this pandemic began, we have heard the needs of the auto body shops, the barbershops, the beauticians, the pizza shop owners, the soul food establishments and other businesses in our communities. The needs of these businesses that were unable to get much needed help from other state and federal programs were a priority in our Senate Democratic Caucus’ April 29 PA CARES Program announcement. For months, my office has worked with a network of trusted community organizations that have a proven track record of working with our small CDFIs to find a solution to assist our neighborhood businesses. I believe these programs are that solution. There is still more work to be done, but these programs are a win for Pennsylvania and its small businesses.”

Businesses will be eligible for up to $50,000 in grants. Grants can be used to cover operating expenses during the shutdown and in the transition period to reopening, technical assistance and training, debt payment relief for CDFI borrowers and loan loss reserves.

“Our small businesses all across the state made sacrifices so that we could flatten the curve of COVID-19 and save lives,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa, Jr. “Now as we begin to recover, our businesses will need and deserve assistance to reopen their doors, rehire their staff and serve our communities again. We thank them for their patience through this difficult time, and are ready to offer the programs, loans and assistance they need.”

Businesses will be required to submit proposals for review documenting sales losses, projected revenues, the duration of closure as a result of COVID-19, and relief receipts for other federal, state and local government aid. Eligible businesses will apply directly through a local CDFI.

“One of the goals of the pandemic-recovery stimulus plan that I offered in March, was to jump-start business operations and speed the economic recovery by making resources readily available to get more men and women back to work quicker,” Brewster said.  “Using federal CARE dollars to bolster business and smooth the back-to-work transition is critically important. The caucus CARES initiative includes one piece of the plan and will be especially useful to small businesses as they cover expenses and manage start-up costs.  Plus, it will usher in help for small businesses who may not have been able to access other state or federal business assistance programs.” 

Distributed funds will be monitored by DCED to track the total number of grants awarded under these programs including county, the number of jobs saved by the grants, the total amount of loan payment and deferment, administrative costs and more.

“Thank you to Governor Wolf and his administration for recognizing the need for our Main Street Business Revitalization Program and incorporating that proposal into the Commonwealth’s plan to support our small businesses, which represent nearly half of the private sector workforce in Pennsylvania – 2.5 million jobs,” said Senator Iovino (D-Allegheny/Washington). “Small businesses are the job creators in our communities, the revenue generators for our Commonwealth, and the cornerstone of vibrant main streets. As small business owners are struggling to hang on, this $225 million grant package is exactly the kind of lifeline that these economic drivers need to support our recovery.”

For more about the caucus’ comprehensive, people-focused COVID-19 recovery plan, visit pasenate.com/pacares.

 

Sen. Blake Announces $352,500 Grant for Scranton Park Project

SCRANTON, August 28, 2019 – Sen. John Blake (D- Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) today announced that the City of Scranton will receive a $352,500 Industrial Sites Reuse Program grant for site cleanup associated with the proposed downtown public park.

“This funding is great news for the City of Scranton and our downtown residential population,” Blake said. “This blighted lot in the heart of our core business district has long been an eyesore in downtown Scranton. I applaud the Wolf Administration for their continued dedication to downtown revitalization and community development.”

Blake noted that the park project being spearheaded by Scranton Tomorrow also received a $400,000 Keystone Communities grant in January 2018. The proposed park would be located at the corner of Linden St. and Wyoming Ave. in downtown Scranton.

The grant will be used for the removal and disposal of soil and several deteriorated concrete building slabs. The site occupies approximately 0.26 acres and was utilized as a lumber storage in 1884, and a dry cleaner from 1956 until 2000. ISRP funds will be used for remediation consisting of soil excavation, monitoring well abandonment, and a health and safety plan update.

The Industrial Sites Reuse Program is administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and provides loans and grants for environmental assessments and remediation carried out by eligible applicants who did not cause or contribute to the contamination. The program is designed to foster the cleanup of environmental contamination at industrial sites, thereby bringing blighted land into productive reuse.

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Blake Weighs Good & Bad in State Budget

HARRISBURG, July 1, 2013 – After giving careful consideration to the $ 28.37 billion budget approved Sunday by the state Senate, Sen. John Blake said he voted against the 2013-’14 spending plan.

“There are several important line items in the budget that signal good news to Pennsylvanians but they are outweighed by investments that are not there or are insufficient,” Blake (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) said.

The good news, Blake said, is the budget increases Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s appropriation by $8 million to $87.3 million and includes $2.5 million for a mobile crime unit that is important for Northeast PA. He said he also likes that the budget delivers much needed funding for strategic upgrades in technology for Auditor General Eugene DePasquale’s office.

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Additionally, the senator said he applauds the $150,000 increase for regional cancer institutes, the reappearance of state support of the Civil Air Patrol, additional support for Heritage Parks; more money for three new state police cadet classes; and increases in commitments to serve veterans and their families.

However, Blake listed several other areas of the budget that, taken together, were reason enough to vote against it.

“A major reason is this budget simply does not go far enough in helping our children in public education,” Blake said. “It flat funds special education, misses the opportunity to help distressed school districts and still underfunds public schools all over Pennsylvania that continue to struggle with the $1 billion in cuts rendered in the governor’s first budget. These are cuts that have resulted in massive teacher layoffs, increased class sizes and higher local property taxes.”

With the 2013-’14 budget, Pennsylvania holds its special education funding at $1.026 billion despite extraordinary pressure on local school districts to meet rising costs and responsibilities in this area.

Other shortcomings of the budget, according to Sen. Blake:

  • Insufficient funding for proven job-creation programs at the Department of Community and Economic Development, or DCED;
  • No additional investment for Scranton, Carbondale and other struggling PA small cities;
  • The budget will carry forward an estimated $500 million in unspent funds left to the discretion of the Governor that could have helped meet some pressing and more immediate needs;
  • It includes budget gimmicks and shifting of funds for nearly $90 million in spending that is not obvious to PA taxpayers; and
  • It unnecessarily delays Medicaid expansion, which will delay $150 million in federal aid to relieve state spending.

 

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Blake’s Job-Creating ‘Innovate in PA’ Bill Wins Unanimous Committee Support

HARRISBURG – June 20, 2013 – With the unanimous and bipartisan support of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. John Blake said his bill to create an early stage capital investment program of approximately $175 million is one step closer to becoming reality.

Senate Bill 456 would create the “Innovate in Pennsylvania” program and deliver desperately needed financing for new and growing businesses throughout the state.

The large-scale economic development program would make job-creating investments through the state’s economic development partners: Ben Franklin Technology Partners, venture investment partners, life science greenhouses, local development districts, industrial resource centers, small business development centers, and regional industrial development organizations.

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As it helps businesses become viable, Blake said “Innovate in Pennsylvania” will help to create jobs, something he said is critically important in Northeast Pennsylvania where the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) has had the highest unemployment rate among the state’s 14 MSAs during the past three years.

The committee’s passage of the Innovate in Pennsylvania program Wednesday comes on the heels of the recent release by the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of an independent, third-party impact report on the state’s economy. The study, released on the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Ben Franklin Technology Partnership, concluded that the organization produced 20,200 jobs in the commonwealth between 2007 through 2011 that otherwise would not have existed. Over the same five-year period, new state tax revenue generated because of the partnership represented a $3.60-to-$1 payback to the commonwealth on its $137.7 million investment.

Blake, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority would manage and invest a portion of the “Innovate in Pennsylvania” funds.

“‘Innovate in Pennsylvania’ will make a significant difference in the economic future of Northeastern Pennsylvania,” said Ken Okrepkie, regional manager, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Pocono Northeast. “Since 2009, because of state budget challenges, funding to Ben Franklin has been reduced by more than half. The consequences have been declining investments in promising high-tech start-up firms, and short-funding clients in which Ben Franklin does invest.

“With a return of $3.60 to the state treasury for every $1 of funding, Ben Franklin Technology Partners is an exceptional investment. ‘Innovate in Pennsylvania’ will help restore some of this crucial funding,” Okrepkie said.

Blake said Pennsylvania has been losing its reputation as a place that fosters new job creators as the commonwealth’s investment in early stage companies dramatically decreased from $53 million in 2008 to $14 million two years ago. That drop removed Pennsylvania from the National Venture Capital Association’s list of top-three states for business enterprise outlays.

“Pennsylvania lost ground nationally with regard to early stage investment,” the senator said. “‘Innovate in Pennsylvania’ will not only return the state to a more serious level as a supporter of business and job growth, it will return huge dividends for Pennsylvanians with new businesses, new products, new jobs, and new revenue.

“For every $1 Pennsylvania invests in early stage businesses, $2.37 will be returned to the commonwealth. That’s money well spent,” Blake said as he encouraged the full Senate to adopt the measure and send it to the House for its consideration.

The state is projected to realize a return on investment of more than $500 million in new revenue once “Innovate in Pennsylvania” comes to an end.

How it Works

“Innovate in Pennsylvania” will offer $225 million in deferred premium tax credits to qualified insurance companies that pay the state’s insurance premium tax.

For every $1 of tax credit offered, insurance providers will receive an up-front discount. The difference between the $225 million in tax credits offered and the potential $170 to $190 million in investment capital raised would be the discount offered to insurance companies that purchase the tax credits.

Investments received from participating insurance companies will be allocated to the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority and, subsequently, into private venture capital firms through its Venture Investment Program for market-based investment decisions, and through the Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED) through the Partnership for Regional Economic Performance (PREP) program.

Forty percent of the net proceeds will be directed to the Ben Franklin Technology Partners to support its mission of statewide early stage investment.

“Let’s drive innovation in Pennsylvania and establish a predictable source of investment capital to grow small business and jobs in the commonwealth,” Blake said.

 

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