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COVID-19 Business Resources
On behalf of the Westmoreland County COVID-19 Leadership Team, this page is collaboratively maintained by the Westmoreland County Chamber of Commerce, Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland and the Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corporation. All three organizations have staff working remotely during the COVID-19 response.
STIMULUS AND FINANCIAL AID
Final Application Period for Pennsylvania’s $200 Million Coronavirus Small Business Grants Program to Open Monday, Aug. 10
The second — and final — application window for the state’s Main Street Revitalization Program and Historically Disadvantaged Business Revitalization Program will open on Monday, Aug. 10. Applications will be accepted for 15 business days before the window closes on Friday, Aug. 28. Successful applicants will receive grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000; the state is evenly splitting $200 million in federal CARES Act funding between the two programs.
Those who applied during the first funding round will be notified of the status of their application by Aug. 10. If you already applied, you do not have to apply again — unsuccessful applications from the first round will be reconsidered in this round.
The state Department of Community and Economic Development has tapped a network of community development finance institutions (CDFIs) to manage the program, and there are four CDFIs serving Western Pennsylvania. You can contact them directly for information on the application process. They are:
Westmoreland CARES Grants for Small Businesses and Nonprofits — Application Window is Now Closed
For details on the Nonprofit Support Grant Program, click here.
Application period for PA's Hazard Pay Grants Program Has Closed
The application period for Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 Hazard Pay Grant program closed July 31. The program provides additional pay for front-line workers in the medical, food, janitorial, transit and security industries. For details, click here.
Pennsylvania’s $200 Million Coronavirus Small Business Grants Program
Although the first application window has closed for the state’s Main Street Revitalization Program and Historically Disadvantaged Business Revitalization Program, there will be subsequent rounds to award the $200 million in CARES Act funding that Pennsylvania has split evenly between those two programs. The second application window for grants of $5,000-$50,000 is expected to open in early August. The state Department of Community and Economic Development has tapped a network of community development finance institutions (CDFIs) to manage the program, and there are four CDFIs serving Western Pennsylvania. You can contact them directly for information on the application process. They are:
Federal Paycheck Protection Program
Businesses can apply for PPP loans of up to 2.5 times the average monthly payroll costs of the previous calendar year, with a $10 million cap. The SBA will forgive these loans for recipients that keep all employees on the payroll for eight weeks and use the money for approved uses.
Applications are processed by existing SBA 7(a) lenders or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. To ensure that more small businesses receive aid during this round of funding, Congress specified in the bill that the president signed into law April 24 that $30 billion is for community lenders, small banks and credit unions. Another $30 billion is earmarked for medium-sized banks and credit unions. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating in the program.
Click here for the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program webpage. For a U.S. Chamber of Commerce summary of the program, click here.
SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans
Small businesses and nonprofits that have been harmed by the coronavirus can apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans via https://sba.gov/disaster. EIDLs have rates of 3.75 percent for businesses and 2.75 percent for nonprofits and are capped at $2 million, with term of up to 30 years. For information concerning SBA’s disaster funding, click here. Businesses with questions about the funding should contact the SBA Pittsburgh District Office at email@example.com.
The U.S. Small Business Administration has provided three documents to help with the process:
- A three-step overview of the SBA Disaster Loan process,
- A summary of terms of the disaster assistance, and
- A notice to lenders, CDCs and microloan intermediaries regarding deferments on SBA 7(a) and 504 business loans and microloans.
To view a one-page EIDL summary from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, click here.
Understanding the Employee-Retention Tax Credit
The CARES Act created a new employee-retention tax credit for employers who are closed, partially closed or experiencing significant revenue losses as a result of COVID-19. Click here for a PDF guide from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act
Where does a business owner begin when trying to understand the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act that Congress just passed? Thanks to the Senate Small Business Committee and the Western Pennsylvania Partnership of Chambers, we’ve got you covered. This 11-page Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act helps business owners understand the scope of the act. For details on the Paycheck Protection Program, Emergency Economic Injury Grants and the Small Business Debt Relief Program — as well as small-business counseling, contracting, tax provision and more — you’ll want to download this PDF file.
Innovation Works to Administer Technology Development Grants for Southwestern PA
The state Department of Community and Economic Development is working with Innovation Works to provide $2 million in funding to Southwestern PA tech start-ups that previously have received funding from Innovation Works or the state during the COVID-19 economic downtown. According to the Pittsburgh Business Times (paywall), Innovation Works will split the funding between as many as 40 companies. Innovation Works is one of four regional DCED Ben Franklin Technology Partners administering the Technology Development Grants. The DCED contributed $1 million to each region, and each of those partners is providing $1 million in matching funds.
PIDA COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program
The Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority’s COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program has disbursed all of its initial funding. We will update this information if the state government allocates more funds for this program to provide zero-percent-interest loans.
NAVIGATING THE COVID-19 ECONOMY
How COVID-19 Will Trigger Global Supply Chain Realignment … and What To Do About It
Pittsburgh-based Catalyst Connection is freely sharing an international-business webinar with key insights into how COVID-19 will trigger global supply chain realignment. In the webinar, Dennis Unkovic — partner at Meyer, Unkovic & Scott LLP — and David Iwinski, managing director of Blue Water Growth LLC, share their expertise in how manufacturers can handle supply chain challenges and how to seize the new opportunities that exist. Click here for the video.
Gov. Wolf's July 15 Targeted Mitigation Order
On July 15, Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine signed new orders for targeted mitigation efforts. The orders:
- place limitations on bars and restaurants,
- prohibit nightclubs from operating,
- require — where possible — businesses to conduct their operations remotely via telework,
- direct gyms and fitness facilities to prioritize outdoor physical fitness activities, and
- limit indoor events to no more than 25 people and outdoor events to no more than 250 people.
To view the order and FAQs that offer clarification, click here.
CDC Resources for Employers
The Centers for Disease Control currently offers the following resources to businesses and employers:
- Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019
- Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations
Previous Announcements and Guidance from the State
- For guidance from the Wolf administration on operating businesses during red, yellow and green phases of the pandemic, click here.
- Click here for the state's COVID-19 Dashboard and the current status (red/yellow/green) of all Pennsylvania counties. This page also includes information regarding the order to wear masks, as well as links to local guidelines, such as those pertaining to Allegheny County. Additionally, this page includes quarantine recommendations for those who traveled to areas with high amounts of COVID-19 cases.
- For guidance on operating businesses during red, yellow and green phases of the pandemic, click here.
- Here’s the link to Gov. Wolf’s March 19 order that non-life-sustaining businesses close physical locations.
- On April 15, the state Department of Health issued guidance on precautions that essential businesses can take to protect employees. Click here to view the PDF file. Also, the state released this nine-page PDF of frequently asked questions clarifying that order.
- Dr. Levine issued a set of disease-control measures for maintaining and cleaning buildings for businesses that have been authorized to continue operating on-site under Gov. Tom Wolf’s March 19 non-life-sustaining business closure order. These measures — which are for owners of buildings of at least 50,000 SF that are used for commercial, industrial or other enterprises — took effect April 6.
Catalyst Connection’s COVID-19 Back to Work Playbook
This 28-page PDF offers guidance on 16 topics — such as plant-opening protocols, inbound parts/material/packages and return-to-work training plans — of interest to businesses that are preparing to reopen. To view the PDF, click here.
- The U.S. Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services have a 33-page Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 PDF available for download.
- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce provides up-to-date information and resources to prevent the spread of the virus and prepare businesses for the near and long-term impact.
PORTALS FOR THE STATE’S COORDINATED COVID-19 RESPONSE
DCED Unveils B2B Directory to Connect Manufacturers of COVID-19-Related Products
The Department of Community and Economic Development has unveiled its Business-to-Business Interchange Directory, which is intended to connect organizations and businesses directly to manufacturers of COVID-19-related products and supplies. At its April 18 launch, the directory included manufacturers of N95, fabric and surgical masks. Additional supplies and materials will be added to the directory as the DCED identifies potential manufacturers. Businesses that wish to be added to the directory should email RA-DCEDPAMCTAP@pa.gov.
PA Department of Labor & Industry’s Job-Hiring Portal
Pennsylvanians who are looking for work can find businesses that currently are hiring through the PA COVID-19 Job Hiring Portal, which went live on April 13. The site is updated daily and features listings of businesses that meet the criteria of a life-sustaining business and that have more than 10 job openings. The site isn’t just for job-seekers; employers who meet the life-sustaining-business criteria can post job openings through the site. The COVID-19 Job Hiring Portal is part of the PA CareerLink system.
DCED’s Manufacturing Call to Action Portal
The Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development wants to mobilize manufacturers that can produce critical medical supplies and products in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are a current manufacturer of supplies and products or are able to pivot your existing manufacturing capabilities to meet the necessary demand, the DCED wants to hear from you. The portal enables the state to match manufacturers and distributors to fill specific supply chain needs to meet increasing demands for medical supplies and related products; assist manufacturers that have workforce needs or gaps and aid them in identifying skilled workers; and identify manufacturers that can pivot or innovate to fulfill the demand for medical supplies and related products. Click here to access the Manufacturing Call to Action Portal.
PA Dept. of Human Services Feeding, Sheltering Survey
Can your business help feed or shelter Pennsylvanians in need and/or pets during the COVID-19 response? The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services is collecting information on capabilities across the state so it can match people in need with available resources. This survey is for planning and possible implementation of any type of response related to COVID-19. For instance, a hotel could be used by first responders or to temporarily house the homeless or to quarantine patients, etc. If the DHS would select your site, you would be reimbursed for disaster-related expenses. Click here submit your information via the survey.
Pennsylvania Critical Medical Supplies Procurement Portal
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Available to Self-Employed Workers, Independent Contractors
Pennsylvania’s self-employed workers and independent contractors are eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. This temporary federal program provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits for those who are not eligible for regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits. For details or to apply, click here.
Filing for Unemployment
Unemployment claims are processed by the state government. You can start the process by clicking here.
Employees should be aware that they may be eligible through the Family Medical Leave Act for days off if they are diagnosed or are treating someone who is diagnosed. Employees also may have access to vacation, personal and/or sick paid days off; again, talk with your employer. Employees should discuss those scenarios with their employers.
Pennsylvania’s Shared-Work Program Offers Innovative Alternative to Layoffs
Shared-work plans enable employers to temporarily reduce the work hours of employees and divide the available hours equally rather than laying off any employees. Those employees who are covered by a shared-work plan receive a percentage of their unemployment compensation weekly benefit amount while they work the reduced schedule, if they are otherwise eligible for unemployment compensation. For details on Pennsylvania’s Shared-Work Program, click here.
Forbearance on Student Loans
Student-loan borrowers may be eligible to temporarily stop making payments on their loans. For details, see the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid office.