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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.