Pa. small businesses can apply for ‘grants, not loans’ starting on Tuesday - PennLive

Pa. small businesses can apply for ‘grants, not loans’ starting on Tuesday - PennLive

Pa. small businesses can apply for ‘grants, not loans’ starting on Tuesday - PennLive

Posted: 29 Jun 2020 02:57 PM PDT

Starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, the window opens for applications from Pennsylvania small businesses to tap a $225 million grant program that is intended to help them recover their losses from the COVID-19 pandemic and reopen their doors.

The COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance program announced earlier this month by Gov. Tom Wolf, will accept applications for 10 days before closing until the second of four rounds of grant distributions begins in early August.

An application that can be accessed at

Grants of between $5,000 and $50,000, depending on a business' revenues, will be issued by the state's 17 Community Development Financial Institutions within two weeks of the application period closing. Funding comes from the state's allotment of federal CARES Act dollars and has to be spent by Nov. 28 when unspent dollars must be returned to the federal government.

The grants, which are anticipated to help as many as 15,000 Pennsylvania businesses, will not be doled out on a first-come, first-served basis. Instead, the money will be distributed based on need.

"These are grants, not loans" and do not have to be repaid, said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Vincent Hughes of Philadelphia many times over during a Zoom call on Monday that had lawmakers, state officials and representatives of Community Development Financial Institutions participating.

Among the businesses planning to submit an application for a grant is Viviani Bros. of Clifton Heights, Delaware County.

Chris Viviani, a co-owner of the dry cleaning and laundry business that runs exclusively as a pick up and delivery service, said he hopes to receive a grant to help him restart and rebuild his business that has been around for 28 years.

"The pandemic for our industry couldn't have been timed worse," he said. "We lost our busiest quarter from a dry cleaning standpoint. It was the tuxedos. There were no weddings or proms. That's where we made the majority of our money. And now we're trying to come back at the worst quarter of the year."

His business model includes picking up clothing dropped off at storefront dry cleaners that don't have the equipment to clean it and going to office buildings and picking up laundry from individuals at their job site. But with so many offices switching to tele-commuting during the pandemic, he said they lost that business as well.

While they never fully shut down since March except for that initial 36-hour window when Gov. Tom Wolf labeled dry cleaners and laundromats as non-essential and then decided they were essential, Viviani said they basically were closed given the small amount of business that reduced their work week from a 48-hour week to a six-hour one. All eight employees they had on the payroll have been laid off.

"The average person wasn't going to work. They couldn't go anywhere funerals, weddings, church, bar mitzvahs, out to dinner, so nobody really had a need to get dressed," Viviani said. "I would say we're off at least 80%" of their usual business volume.

Small businesses that this grant program is designed to help are companies physically located in Pennsylvania that generate most of their money in the state, had 25 or fewer full-time equivalent employees prior to Feb. 15, and have annual revenues of $1 million or less before the pandemic hit.

While federal CARES Act funding has been made available to businesses through other programs offered by the federal government, Dan Betancourt of Lancaster-based Community First Fund said, "this program was created because we are aware the early federal stimulus dollars did not reach small Pennsylvania businesses."

The $225 million is being divided up to direct $100 million for the Main Street Business Revitalization Program for small businesses that experienced a COVID-19-related losses and $100 million for the Historically Disadvantaged Business Revitalization Program targeted to businesses with Black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian and Pacific Islander owners who suffered pandemic-related losses.

The remaining $25 million will go into the Loan Payment Deferment and Loss Reserve Program which will allow the Community Development Financial Institutions the opportunity to offer forbearance and payment relief for businesses in their loan portfolios that are struggling as well as to shore up these lenders themselves.

The network of Community Development Financial Institutions anticipate distributing $50 million of the grant money in each round. Businesses only have to apply once for a grant and those not funded in an earlier round will be considered for funding in subsequent rounds.

Hughes pointed out that an advantage of running the program through the Community Development Financial Institutions is it helps businesses connect with these institutions that can assist them in obtaining further capital to meet their needs. For example, he said there remains $100 billion in Paycheck Protection Program money that is still available that they can help businesses access.

"Understand that our small businesses are the economic engine of the state," said House Democratic Whip Jordan Harris of Philadelphia on the Zoom call. "Had it not been for these resources, we know that many of these businesses would not be able to open back up."

In particular, he spoke of the help it will provide minority and disadvantaged businesses and those owned by ex-offenders who are trying to rebuild their lives after coming through the criminal justice system.

"This is probably the largest infusion of capital for our minority-owned businesses that we have seen in a long time at the state level," Harris said.

Speaking of the civil unrest that has played out on the streets of the commonwealth and country in the aftermath of George Floyd's killing while in police custody, he said helping minority-owned businesses grow will start to level the playing field economically for them by providing them with the capital they need to grow and "to restore what COVID-19 has taken away from them."

Along with their most recent tax return, businesses will be required to provide a government-issued photo identification and proof they are doing business in Pennsylvania. The grant money can be used to for expenses incurred during the crisis or expenses incurred for a business to reopen, said Leslie Benoliel of Entrepreneur Works, a Philadelphia-area Community Development Financial Institution. But there is an exception, she said.

"If a business received funding from another source, they can't use these funds for the same use," Benoliel said. "But they can use it to pay employees, rent, buy inventory."

Jim Burnett of West Philadelphia Financial Services, another Philadelphia-based Community Development Financial Institution, added a business can use the grant money to advertise that they are back in business.

That is where Viviani said his business would put any money it would receive through this program so his customers know that Viviani Bros. is still around and ready to serve them.

"I want to say we're still here and if your needs have changed, we understand that. But we don't want our customers going somewhere else," he said. "It feels like starting your business all over again to try and figure out what you can do."

Jan Murphy may be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @JanMurphy.

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Where the Money Is for Small Businesses - The New York Times

Posted: 11 Jun 2020 02:45 AM PDT

This article is part of Owning the Future, a series on how small businesses across the country are coping with the coronavirus pandemic.

The pain and insecurity of the shock of the coronavirus on small-business owners have been overwhelming. Entrepreneurs have taken extreme steps to stay operational, and many are deeply worried about their prospects in the coming months and beyond.

But help is out there. Federal, state and local governments, as well as communities, corporations and foundations have stepped up with financial resources.

For a small business trying to stay afloat during the shock of the coronavirus, every little bit of financial aid can have a bearing on their future.

For Amy Bass, owner of Nota Bene, a fine-paper boutique in Pittsburgh, her lifeline was a small loan from the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program. "It helped by getting one of my full-time employees off unemployment and paying one month's rent," she said.

It has been a rough ride as she worked through the two-month closure. "We are now open, but pretty much all events throughout the end of the year, including holiday parties have been canceled," Ms. Bass said. "It will be a long year for us."

Here's a rundown of what are available, but keep in mind that the rules continue to change.

The agency is providing grants and low-interest loans for small-business owners financially affected as a result of the coronavirus. But a warning: Demand is high, and the process may not be swift.


The Paycheck Protection Program provides a loan that is fully forgiven if the funds are used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent and utilities (a portion of the forgiven amount must have been used for payroll). No collateral or personal guarantees are required. Neither the government nor lenders will charge businesses any fees.

Forgiveness is based on the employer's maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels. Forgiveness will be reduced if the full-time head count of the business declines, or if salaries and wages decrease, according to the S.B.A. website.

The S.B.A.'s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program offers an advance of up to $10,000 to provide economic relief. Applications are limited to provide loans to U.S. agricultural businesses with 500 or fewer employees. The interest rate is 3.75 percent. Loans can have repayments of up to 30 years.

The agency is also providing small businesses that have a relationship with an S.B.A. Express Lender to access a bridge loan of up to $25,000.

Apply online at the S.B.A.'s website or call the agency at 800-659-2955. The site has a directory to find its local offices.

They also have small-business assistance programs of their own. The New York City Department of Small Business Services, for example, can help businesses apply for loans and other financial products. There are free small-group and one-on-one consultations to help businesses evaluate and apply for financing and access to city-sponsored special loans and grants.

In San Francisco, Mayor London N. Breed and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development recently announced the opening of the application process for $6.5 million in funds to support small businesses affected by the coronavirus. This includes $1.5 million for San Francisco's Small Business Resiliency Fund grant program to provide at least 190 businesses up to $10,000 in aid. An additional $5 million is earmarked for the Hardship Emergency Loan Program (SF HELP) in the form of up to $50,000 in zero-percent interest loans to around 100 small businesses.

  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated June 30, 2020

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • Is it harder to exercise while wearing a mask?

      A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise "comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort" and requires "balancing benefits versus possible adverse events." Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. "In my personal experience," he says, "heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask." Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.

    • I've heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?

      The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

    • What is pandemic paid leave?

      The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don't typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country's largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was "very rare," but she later walked back that statement.

    • What's the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it's surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation's job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you've been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania recently announced a $225 million statewide grant program to support small businesses that were affected by coronavirus and business-closure orders.

Check with your mayor's or governor's office for resources and updates.

Governments are not the only ones helping out. Foundations, websites and other entrepreneurs have jumped in. Here are some.

Local Chambers of Commerce are also supporting their small-business owners. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has a state-by-state guide that outlines the different loans, grants and funds that state and local governments — as well as private organizations — are offering.

Hello Alice, a platform that helps entrepreneurs connect with other business owners, government resources, potential funders and mentors, is offering $10,000 grants to small businesses, supplied by Silicon Valley Bank, the eBay Foundation, UBS and other partners. The first rounds are complete, but the group will provide more rounds of funding through July 16.

The Red Backpack Fund, which is backed by Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx, is donating $5,000 grants to 1,000 female entrepreneurs. The fund is accepting applications in cycles. The most recent started June 1; future cycles will begin on July 6 and Aug. 3.

The LISC Small Business Relief Grants program offers up to $10,000 to small businesses affected by the coronavirus, especially entrepreneurs of color, women-owned businesses and other enterprises that don't have access to flexible, affordable capital. The program is funded by Verizon, Sam's Club and others. Its next application round is scheduled to open on June 11.

GoFundMe, the fund-raising platform, has started the Small Business Relief Initiative, partnering with Yelp, Intuit QuickBooks, and GoDaddy to provide owners with grants and resources. GoFundMe, QuickBooks and Yelp have each donated $500,000 to the Small Business Relief Fund, and it is open for anyone to make a donation. There will also be $500 matching grants to qualifying businesses that raise at least $500 on GoFundMe.

IFundWomen, a crowdfunding platform, is giving microgrants to women-run businesses, issued on a rolling basis. "Start a campaign" to be considered for a coronavirus relief grant.

Accomack County announces business grants available - Shore Daily News

Posted: 30 Jun 2020 02:33 AM PDT

Grants of up to $5,000 for small businesses and up to $3,750 for closed home based businesses and restaurants with take-out and delivery are available to qualifying small businesses located in Accomack County. The County is using an executive order  to determine whether a small business is eligible for grant funds. Examples of businesses closed by the executive order include but are not limited to:


Restaurants that provided take-out/delivery are eligible for a $3750 grant


Hair Salons

Indoor Public Amusement


Home based businesses that were closed are also eligible for the reduced grant of $3750

At this time the County is not receiving applications for Small Business Grants. The on-line application for small businesses will be up on the county website  on July 6, 2020 at 10 a.m. and the application period will close on July 10, 2020.  Funding will be on a FIRST COME FIRST SERVED basis and only one grant per business will be awarded. An on-line application form and submittal is REQUIRED to be considered.

Small businesses which are located within the incorporated towns should check this website often to find out whether or not you are eligible to apply based on action by the incorporated town.   Towns participating in the County's Small Business Grant Initiative as of June 29th are: Bloxom, Saxis and Onley.

A final listing of incorporated towns wishing to participate will be posted on the Accomack County Government web page on July 1, 2020.

Successful applicants will be notified by email and be required to submit a w-9 form. Successful grant award recipients, applicant names and business names will be listed on the website after July 13, 2020. There will also be details regarding grant notifications on the website.


Wayne County offering $50 million in grants to small businesses - The Detroit News

Posted: 18 Jun 2020 12:00 AM PDT

Wayne County plans to offer $50 million in grants to small businesses as they reopen during COVID-19. 

The  Wayne County Back to Work: Small Business Readiness Grant will be funded through the county's allotment from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. At least 5,000 county small businesses could receive grants of up to $10,000. Applications will be available June 29-July 10.

"One thing we understood right away — if we delay expenditures of the money too long, the very businesses that we're trying to help will die on the vine,"  Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said Thursday at a press conference. "We have decided to allot $50 million of the CARES money to Wayne County small business to help them with the related cost from COVID-19."

Funds could be used for:

  • Payroll costs for permanent employees
  • Contract labor
  • Supplier payments
  • Rent, lease or mortgage payment
  • Rent, lease or purchase payment for business equipment
  • New or expanded technology applications
  • Utility payments for business properties
  • Cost of critical business operations
  • PPE and sanitation supplies

To qualify, businesses must be a brick-and-mortar operation that is unable to accommodate business from home. The businesses must employ less than 50 full time employees, be in existence for at least one year and be in good standing with the State of Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Total revenue does not exceed $1 million dollars.

The grant follows two previous relief funds for businesses in Wayne County. The Michigan Small Business Relief awarded grants of up to $10,000 to 196 businesses. The TCF & Wayne County Small Business Relief Loan Fund provided $4.3 million in low-interest microloans to 225 businesses.

"Sometimes a small business can't always take a loan out," said Wayne County Commission Chair Alisha Bell. "They have to have money to pay the loan back. So this grant program is going to be so important for those small businesses that need that extra money that they can put in for either rent, for utilities, paying their staff. However this need to make sure that their business stays afloat."

Twitter: CWilliams_DN

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