Tuesday, August 13, 2019

County, Chestertown receive business development grants | News - MyEasternShoreMD

County, Chestertown receive business development grants | News - MyEasternShoreMD


County, Chestertown receive business development grants | News - MyEasternShoreMD

Posted: 13 Aug 2019 08:30 AM PDT

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, both D-Md., have announced the recent award of nearly $130,000 in federal funds for Chestertown and Kent County through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Business Development Grant Program.

According to a news release, the program awarded $30,000 to Kent County for the development of job training programs to equip adult students with marketable fiber optics and cyber security skills. The county will contribute an additional $17,581, bringing the total budget to $47,581, the release states. This effort is estimated to create three jobs.

In addition, a $35,000 grant is going to Main Street Historic Chestertown to retain and revitalize existing businesses and attract new ones, developing the area's potential as a destination for residents and tourists, the release states. Main Street Historic Chestertown will contribute $5,000, bringing the total budget to $40,000. It is expected to create 15 jobs and retain another 70.

Additional Eastern Shore grants went to Crisfield in Somerset County to improve marketing for more than 150 small businesses in the town's Arts and Entertainment District and to Pocomoke City in Worcester County to provide technical assistance to downtown businesses.

"Small businesses are the engine of our economy. Rural small businesses and entrepreneurs face unique challenges, while having an even greater effect on the communities they serve," said Cardin, lead Democrat on the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee. "These federal funds will make a real difference in Kent, Somerset, and Worcester Counties for years to come."

"Small businesses on the Eastern Shore and across the state create jobs, drive economic growth, and are an integral part of our community. This federal investment will help train new workers and allow entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. It will also provide federal support to help tackle some of the unique challenges faced by small businesses in rural areas. In the U.S. Senate, I will keep fighting to support Maryland businesses and workers," said Van Hollen, a member of the Budget and Appropriations Committees.

USDA awards Rural Business Development Grants for rural projects that finance and facilitate the development of small and emerging private businesses, help fund distance learning networks and help fund employment-related adult education programs, according to the release. The program is authorized by the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act.

DEP offering grants to small businesses and farmers - Daily American Online

Posted: 11 Aug 2019 05:15 PM PDT

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced the availability of $1 million in grant funding to Pennsylvania small businesses and farmers for energy efficiency, pollution prevention and natural resource protection projects through the Small Business Advantage grant program. New to the program this year is the opportunity for small business owners to install solar hot water systems for their business operations.

"Pennsylvania is committed to assisting those small business owners who want to become energy efficient, increase their profitability and help the environment," said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. "This funding will support projects designed to reduce operating costs and boost competitiveness, while simultaneously protecting the environment."

Eligible projects include adopting or acquiring equipment or processes that reduce energy use or pollution. Examples of eligible projects are HVAC and boiler upgrades, high-efficiency LED lighting, solvent recovery and waste recycling systems and auxiliary power units deployed as anti-idling technology for trucks.

Last year, around 200 small businesses were awarded more than $947,000 in grants for their projects. Natural resource protection projects may include planting riparian buffers, installation of streambank fencing to keep livestock out of streams and investing in agricultural stormwater management projects, with the goal of reducing sediment and nutrient loads in our waterways.

"We are excited to expand the program to help lower energy bills through the use of solar energy," McDonnell said. "Encouraging businesses to embrace alternative energy projects helps clean our air, reduce greenhouse gases and give small business owners a sense of satisfaction on making smart choices."

Pennsylvania-based small business owners with 100 or fewer full-time equivalent employees are eligible. Projects must save the business a minimum of $500 and 25 percent annually in energy consumption, or pollution-related expenses.

Businesses can apply for 50 percent matching funds of up to $7,000 to adopt or acquire energy-efficient or pollution prevention equipment or processes. Only costs incurred between July 1, and June 30, 2020, are eligible.

Applications will be considered on a first come, first served basis, and will be accepted until fiscal year 2019-20 funds are exhausted or April 12, 2020, whichever occurs first. All applications must be submitted through the commonwealth's Single Application for Assistance website. Printed, faxed and mailed applications are not accepted.

The complete grant application package, which includes step-by-step instructions and instructional videos for completing the online application, is available by visiting the DEP Small Business Ombudsman's Office website.

Local Lobbyist Charged With Stealing More Than $100K From Small Business Owners - 90.5 WESA

Posted: 13 Aug 2019 09:58 AM PDT

Pittsburgh-area lobbyist Joseph Kuklis was accused Tuesday of defrauding his clients out of more than $100,000. He turned himself in to authorities Tuesday morning, after the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office charged him on four counts of theft by deception, six counts of deceptive or fraudulent business practices, and six counts of forgery.

In a statement Tuesday, the Attorney General's Office said an investigation revealed that since 2017, Kuklis charged clients a consulting fee, promising to secure grant funding for them through the Pennsylvania Department of Economic Development.

But, according to the statement, Kuklis forged documents from the department to make it appear as though clients had applied for and won grants. When the clients, all small-business owners, called to collect their awards, they learned that Kuklis had never submitted their applications.

The statement said the victims included Pittsburgh Technical College, Millie's Homemade Ice Cream, Digital Dream Labs, Blank Concrete and Supplies, Innovatus Imaging, and IRA Logix, Inc.

"Small businesses are the backbone of our economy across the Commonwealth, and they deserve to be supported, not scammed," Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in the statement. "The defendant falsely promised small business owners that he would obtain badly-needed grant money for them, but instead he used their money to line his own pockets."

Kuklis is president and CEO of the Pittsburgh-based lobbying firm, Wellington Strategies. And in recent years, local clients have included the Allegheny County Library Association and Phipps Conservatory. He has also worked with robotics company RE2, automated forklift firm Seegrid Corporation, and WESCO, which supplies and maintains electrical and communications systems for businesses.

None of those clients were named in charging documents against Kuklis.

Under the lobbyist's leadership, Wellington Strategies "has successfully raised over $900 million in public and private funds for its clients," according to the firm's website, which has been taken down.

The website noted that Kuklis previously served as the Deputy State Director for former Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, who represented Pennsylvania in the Senate from 1995 to 2007.

Kuklis acted as Santorum's "primary point of contact in [Pennsylvania] for community & economic development groups, municipal & state leaders, and trade associations," the Wellington Strategies site said.

Kuklis also wrote a book, called The Robin Hood of D.C., in 2013. In the text, Kuklis shares personal anecdotes and case studies to help readers navigate the lobbying process in the nation's capital.

The book received praise from Santorum.

"Kuklis combined his passion for public service with his entrepreneurial spirit to create an innovative way to influence public policy," the former Senator wrote in an editorial review. "His understanding of the government and politics detailed in this book is instructive for big and small organizations alike."

In its statement Tuesday, the Attorney General's Office said its investigation of Kuklis "is ongoing, and there may be additional victims."

It asked small business owners who think they might have been victims of Kuklis to call the prosecutor's office at 412-880-0464.

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