Wolf admin announces more than $246M in small biz assistance | Wednesday Morning Coffee

The federal funding will target socially and economically disadvantaged businesses

By: - September 14, 2022 7:15 am

Businesses located on 2200 block of Ridge Avenue in North Philadelphia are pictured (Philadelphia Tribune photo)

Some $246.8 million in American Rescue Plan funding has been earmarked for small business assistance across the state, the Wolf administration said Tuesday.

The State Small Business Credit Initiative money, which will flow through the state Department of Community and Economic Development, and then to local economic development partners, has been targeted to help economically and socially disadvantaged businesses, and those in the technology sector, the administration said in a statement.

The funding “aligns perfectly with my continued commitment to support businesses in Pennsylvania,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in a statement his office issued Tuesday.

The federal windfall, first announced in July, will be distributed equally among all 67 counties, ensuring that businesses “will have access to either loans or equity investments,” the administration said.

Here’s how that funding breaks down:

Nearly $123 million will be allocated to the state’s Direct Venture Investment program, which provides both seed money and later-stage capital to economic development organizations to assist companies “involved in the development and commercialization of technologically advanced products and processes,” the administration said.

Those economic development organizations includes the Ben Franklin Technology Partners Central & Northern Pennsylvania, which will receive nearly $19.7 million in funding; BioAdvance (Biotechnology Greenhouse Corporation of Southeastern Pennsylvania), which will receive more than $14.7 million, and the Life Sciences Greenhouse of Central Pennsylvania, which also will receive more than $14.7 million in funding.

Nearly $124 million in revolving loan money will be distributed among county economic development organizations. They include the Altoona-Blair County Development Corporation ($4 million); the Montgomery County Redevelopment Authority ($2 million), and the Northern Tier Regional Planning and Development Commission ($1.47 million), among others.

According to the administration, capital programs administered by economic development partners are scheduled to be open by Oct. 17. Small businesses will apply for funding through their economic development organizations, the administration said.

U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, D-7th District
U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, D-7th District (Armchair Lehigh Valley).

In a July press call with journalists, the Biden administration and its Democratic allies touted the “transformative” nature of the money flowing to key 2022 battleground states.

U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, D-7th District, who participated in the call, described the federal windfall as a “critical” tool “to invest and support new ventures — especially from communities that have faced barriers.”

Americans started 5.4 million new businesses last year, which is 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 July email, citing a White House report.

“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,” Wild said during that July press call.

At the time, White House officials said that a $267 million allocation, not the more than $246 million allocation announced Tuesday, was headed for Pennsylvania.

On Tuesday, a Wolf administration spokesperson said the roughly $21 million balance would be divided between the state’s ‘Diverse Leaders Venture‘ program and administrative costs for the Department of Community and Economic Development.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.