Businesses located on 2200 block of Ridge Avenue in North Philadelphia are pictured (Philadelphia Tribune photo)
Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
The Biden administration and its Democratic allies on Capitol Hill are touting the hundreds of millions of dollars in federal small business assistance headed to the states — including such key 2022 battlegrounds as Arizona and Pennsylvania.
On Monday, officials announced the new round of aid through the reauthorized State Small Business Credit Initiative, a $10 billion program, funded through the American Rescue Plan, that provides access to venture capital and loan guarantees, among other options, to small businesses.
“It’s very important to understand that the American Rescue Plan had dual goals — to ensure the strongest … recovery for the crisis that we were in, and to make sure the recovery was an equitable one for the under-served and hardest-hit communities,” senior White House adviser Gene Sperling said during a Monday press call.
The funding round announced Monday, which totals more than $1.5 billion, is “transformative,” according to Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, a Democrat, whose state is in line for $120 million in assistance through the program.
U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, D-7th District, who also participated in Monday’s call, lauded the $267.8 million in federal assistance headed to the Keystone State, calling it a “critical” tool to “to invest and support new ventures — especially from communities that have faced barriers.”
The aid headed to Pennsylvania will be administered by the state Department of Community & Economic Development, Gov. Tom Wolf’s office said in a statement.
“This funding from the Biden administration is a significant investment in Pennsylvania’s future that will be used to empower our small businesses and generate new jobs,” Wolf said in the statement.
Participants on Monday’s call stressed the foundational role that small businesses play across the economy. That’s particularly in communities of color, where they are “critical” to the local economic infrastructure, Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said.
“We’ve intentionally designed the program to drive investment to underserved entrepreneurs,” Adeyemo said. “It’s always difficult to access capital, and [this program] is designed to address it; to help more entrepreneurs get the funding they need.”
Americans started 5.4 million new businesses last year, that’s more than 20 percent higher than any prior year, and more than two-thirds higher than the yearly average of 3.2 million new businesses in the five years before the start of the pandemic, Wild’s office said in a email, citing a White House report.
“We came up with this focus to concentrate on these persistent poverty communities in our country,” U.S. House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., who was on Monday’s call, said. “These programs are needed. We want to get it done equitably and efficiently.”
Adeyemo, who had previously visited the Lehigh Valley, pointed to two businesses in the region he said would benefit from the assistance: A Latino-owned barbershop that kept its employees through the pandemic, and a Black-owned childcare center that was expanding thanks to American Rescue Plan funding
“I think there are businesses throughout Pennsylvania and throughout the country that can use SSBCI resources to continue to grow and grow our economy going forward,” he said.
Wild, who recently met with Black business leaders in her Allentown-based district to discuss the challenges and successes they faced during the pandemic, called the money headed to Pennsylvania “monumental.”
“It’s a phenomenal number, which will really open up access to capital and investment to those who have faced barriers, empowering anyone with dreams and plans to make them a reality.”
Abortion medications are set to become the next legal battleground, our friends at Stateline.org report.
With roughly six months left in office, the Wolf administration — aiming to recruit and retain educators, build a more diverse workforce, and reduce barriers to entering the profession — has released a three-year strategic plan to address the staffing shortage in Pennsylvania schools. Marley Parish has the story.
U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans, D-3rd District, has secured House passage of his legislation designed to improve diversity at the nation’s military service academies and his bipartisan legislation to reauthorize a Delaware River basin conservation program, our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune report.
Meanwhile, in the Garden State: An independent legislative panel tasked with recommending revisions to state law plans to explore changes to a provision that bars election challenges due to certain vote-by-mail processing errors, Nikita Biryukov, of our sibling site, the New Jersey Monitor, reports.
On our Commentary Page this morning: Despite the baying of the online mob, the kids who were charged in a brutal Philadelphia murder last month still deserve due process, opinion regular Michael Coard writes. And the U.S. Supreme Court rulings that are bothering people require a democratic political response. They do not demand a surrender, opinion regular Bruce Ledewitz writes.
The Inquirer looks at the strings Harrisburg Republicans have attached to protected bike lanes.
All 500 of the state’s school districts will share in $200 million in state funding for safety and mental health grants, the Post-Gazette reports.
The Bucks County Courier Times explains how the Wolf administration traded charter school reform for education funding (via the York Daily Record).
The IRS is investigating whether a Cumberland County church violated its tax-exempt status by screening a right-wing film featuring GOP gubernatorial hopeful Doug Mastriano, PennLive reports.
Pennsylvania Democrats are facing a tough midterm cycle, but inflation doesn’t appear to have impacted their fundraising, WESA-FM reports (via WITF-FM).
Axios, meanwhile, profiles the prototypical Republican voter this midterm campaign cycle.
Another suburban Lancaster County school district has put off a decision on a policy on transgender athletes, saying it needs to do more research, LancasterOnline reports (subscriber-only).
Lehigh Valley food banks have seen a surge in demand as food prices rise, the Morning Call reports.
The Philadelphia Water Department will end its shutoff moratorium on Wednesday, WHYY-FM reports.
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What Goes On
10 a.m., 418 Main Capitol: House Democratic Policy Committee
Gov. Tom Wolf has no public schedule today.
You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept
Best wishes go out to a couple of Longtime Friends O’The Blog today: To journalist Rossilynne Skena Culgan and veteran ad man, Steve Augello, of Harrisburg, who both log another trip around the sun. Congratulations, friends. Enjoy the day.
R.E.M.’s sun-splashed 2001 LP ‘Reveal‘ is a record that just sounds like summer. Appropriately enough, here’s ‘Summer Turns to High.’
Tuesday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link
Washington Nationals slugger Juan Soto blasted his way through Monday night’s All-Star Game Home Run Derby, besting Seattle’s Julio Rodriguez.
And now you’re up to date.
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