Wolf Administration: Guidance Now Available for COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance Grants

Today, Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Dennis Davin announced that program guidelines and additional details for the COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Grants are now available on  DCED’s website .

“COVID-19 has put a significant strain on all of Pennsylvania’s businesses and communities, and the COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance Program will expeditiously provide assistance to Pennsylvania’s small businesses, which we know are hurting,” said Sec. Davin. “This critical funding will help underserved businesses such as minority-owned businesses and other businesses in historically-underserved areas begin recovery efforts and get back on their feet.”

Governor Wolf announced  the program’s creation earlier this week. Under the program, $225 million is available for COVID-19 relief to small businesses through a distribution to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) for loan payment deferment and portfolio loan loss reserves, main street business revitalization grants, and historically disadvantaged business revitalization grants.

The funds will be available through three programs:
  • $100 million for the Main Street Business Revitalization Program for small businesses that experienced loss as a result of the governor’s March 19, 2020 order relating to the closure of all non-life-sustaining businesses and have or will incur costs to adapt to new business operations related to COVID-19;
  • $100 million for the Historically Disadvantaged Business Revitalization Program for small businesses that experienced loss as a result of the business closure order, have or will incur costs to adapt to new business operations related to COVID-19, and in which socially and economically disadvantaged individuals own at least a 51 percent interest and also control management and daily business operations.
  • $25 million for the Loan Payment Deferment and Loss Reserve Program, which will allow the CDFIs the opportunity to offer forbearance and payment relief for existing portfolio businesses that are struggling due to the impact of COVID, as well as shore up the financial position of the CDFIs that are experiencing significant increased defaults in their existing loan portfolios.

Eligible businesses with 25 or fewer employees may receive a maximum grant of $50,000 so long as the business was in operation on February 15, 2020 and, if required, paid income taxes to the state and federal government, as reported on individual or business tax returns; COVID-19 has had an adverse economic impact and makes this grant request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the applicant; the grant will be used cover COVID-19 related costs; and during the period beginning on June 1, 2020 and ending on December 31, 2020, the applicant has not and will not receive another grant under this state program.

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should visit the  Responding to COVID-19 Guide website .

We have been informed that CDFIs are currently awaiting the guidelines to be released and expect them late next week. Applications will not be accepted until around July 1st. Please visit their website, as this is where the information will be posted as it becomes available, at  progressfund.org .
Updated Restaurant Industry Guidance

Today, the Governor's Office updated the  Restaurant Industry Guidance . This morning's  Industry Update  reviewed important changes to the guidelines but a quick summary of the changes include:

  • Permitting physical barriers between booths
  • Maximum occupancy includes customers and employees
  • If no maximum occupancy is listed, the ratio is now 24 people per 1,000 square feet
  • Guidelines apply to discrete gatherings & events
  • Permits live music with social distancing
  • Now encouraged (but not mandated) to close or remove amenities and congregate areas non-essential to the preparation and service of food or beverages such as dance floors, game areas, playgrounds, small games of chance and tavern gaming etc. in the green phase
  • Allow for the refilling of food/beverage containers in the yellow phase as long as the container or implement can be refilled without contact with the tap or dispenser, containers are sanitized before use, or the tap or dispenser is sanitized before and after each use
  • All private event spaces and wedding venues with food service authorized to conduct in-person activities pursuant to this guidance are required to maintain a list of all guests in attendance including location of origin for each guest

Read more here .
Resolution Passed to Terminate Governor's Emergency Declaration: What Does it Mean for You?

Yesterday, the state legislature passed a resolution intended to terminate Governor Wolf's emergency declaration related to the pandemic. The resolution received bipartisan support in the House ( 121-81 ) and Senate ( 31-19 ).
Republican majority leadership have indicated their belief that they are not required to submit the resolution to the governor to be signed or vetoed, and that he must rescind the emergency declaration, per the resolution. The Wolf Administration has indicated its belief that the legislature  is required  to submit the resolution (which, presumably, the governor would veto); if they don't, the declaration will continue unabated.
Both sides are claiming Constitutional authority for their respective positions, and again we find Pennsylvania's employers in yet another confusing, difficult situation.
Unfortunately, there's little clarity at the moment. However, you might consider the following points:
  • It is widely believed that the courts will ultimately decide this Constitutional question.
  • In the meantime, employers should be cautious about expanding business operations beyond what is currently allowed under the governor's order. Unfortunately, the governor has in the past, under similar circumstances, threatened business with fines, license and permit revocation, and other punitive measures.
  • It's disheartening to hear our governor issue these threats to employers, many of whom are at their breaking point; yet it would be imprudent to not take these threats seriously. That said, the governor might find the threat to revoke a license ring hollow with an employer for whom the alternative is permanent closure.
REMINDER: $3,000 Forgivable Loans

The Pennsylvania 30 Day Fund is a non-profit recently launched to provide forgivable loans of $3,000 to Pennsylvania small businesses struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligibility criteria is simple:
  • Employs between 3 and 30 people
  • Based in Pennsylvania and operating for at least a year
  • Owned and operated by a Pennsylvania resident
  • Operate as a forprofit business.
Eligible employers must complete a  short application   and submit a video detailing how they could benefit from the funding. The funds do not need to be repaid. However, business owners who are able may choose to "pay it forward" by paying the proceeds back to the Fund to be used by other small businesses.
Additional questions about the PA 30 Day Fund can be directed by Maia Comeau at  maia@comeaucompany.com .
Office Hours by Appointment

While we will continue to return calls and respond to emails as quickly as possible, we are now available at the office by appointment. Let us know if you need to meet with us.
Looking at Reopening??
Attend this FREE SCORE Seminar
"A New Way To Look At Marketing"  
Thursday, June 18, 2020 from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM EDT
Marketing is likely the "second science" proposed and studied in business schools. Most people will agree that accounting and numbers were the "first science", but few will dispute that you cannot generate numbers for a company if you don't market the product. Marketing has long been recognized as part science and part magic.

There are many facets to marketing...some would call it to sales, others would say that it's advertising. In fact, marketing is sales, advertising, and much more. This workshop A New Look At Marketing will cover the following topics:

1.    Brand & trademark development
2.    Using a website & controlling SEO
3.    Online company listings (other than your website)
4.    How to use email marketing
5.    Using social media
6.    How to use print marketing

The workshop covers the traditional aspects of marketing, but also offers a no nonsense look at the new media. The purpose of the workshop is to give you the opportunity to reassess your marketing strategy or to refresh your current strategy to address the post COVID world.
Co Sponsored by Schlow Centre Region Library
Sector-Specific Guidance
The pandemic has affected different industries differently — likewise, the reopening process will vary by sector. Here are sector-specific guidance from some of the leading industry associations and government sources:

Small Business Development Center Webinars

R3: Designing a Resiliency Roadmap for 30/60/90 Days
Beginning Monday, June 29

This 4-part series will address small business Re-evaluation, Recovery, and Regeneration strategies in the introductory workshop followed by check-ins at the 30-60-90 day marks. The R3 program will give business leaders a chance to learn from experts, network with other businesses, and create a new way of doing business.

Refining the Retail New Normal Recorded Webinar Series
Host: Penn State Extension

Yellow Phase

Work & Congregate Setting Restrictions

Social Restrictions

  • Stay at Home Order Lifted for Aggressive Mitigation
  • Large Gatherings of More Than 25 Prohibited
  • Masks Are Required When Entering a Business
  • In-Person Retail Allowable, Curbside and Delivery Preferable
  • Indoor Recreation, Health and Wellness Facilities and Personal Care Services (such as gyms, spas, hair salons, nail salons and other entities that provide massage therapy), and all Entertainment (such as casinos, theaters) Remain Closed
  • Restaurants and Bars May Open Outdoor Dining, in Addition to Carry-Out and Delivery (effective 6/5/2020)

  • All businesses must follow CDC and DOH guidance for social distancing and cleaning
  • Monitor public health indicators, adjust orders and restrictions as necessary

Download this questionnaire for sample screening questions to ask employees upon return to work and on a regular basis moving forward. This template is based on questions required or recommended by various states as well as input from U.S. Chamber member companies of all sizes and sectors.
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No more applications are being accepted at this time.
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Yvonne Martin
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MacKenzie Huntsman
Program Director

Phone: 814-643-1110
Fax: 814-643-1115
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