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Boscola Bulletin

The Commonwealth: On the Road to Recovery…

A Seven-Point Plan to Assist Restaurants & Taverns

This week, a comprehensive proposal was announced to provide emergency relief to Pennsylvania’s restaurants and taverns, which have seen significant financial loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shutdown. The seven-point plan includes a $100 million grant program to retail liquor licensees using federal CARES Act funds, as well as a suite of policy changes to financially benefit these struggling businesses.

A Seven-Point Plan to Assist Restaurants & Taverns We need to continue to put in place tools that will help our small businesses recover & assist Pennsylvania’s businesses on their road to recovery, such as the restaurants & taverns. Small businesses, such as these, are the backbone of our economy and our communities. We need to continue to help them. The sooner we put plans in place to assist with our recovery, and implement those plans, the better small business owners will be in planning for their future and hold strong representing the third-largest sector in the Commonwealth’s economy.

The full proposal to provide relief to Pennsylvania’s bars and restaurants includes the following components:

  1. Provide targeted assistance under the Senate Democrats’ small business assistance program to restaurants and taverns. Carve out $100 million from the remaining CARES Act proceeds to capitalize a program to provide grants to these retail liquor licensees for revenue and capital losses experienced during shutdown periods.
     
  2. Increase the wholesale licensee discount for wine and spirit purchases from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) from 10% to 15% for at least nine months, to June 30, 2021 with a gradual phased reduction back to 10% after June 30, 2022. The total savings to the retail liquor licensee community will exceed $30 million.
     
  3. Waive all license renewal and permit fees that are paid by restaurants and taverns for one year from the date of implementation, representing over $35 million annually.
     
  4. Eliminate late fees/penalties for delayed sales tax payments and allow restaurants to pay off delinquent accounts by June 30, 2021.
     
  5. Allow licensees to expand their licensed premises outdoors to non-contiguous areas within a certain distance of the licensee.
     
  6. Eliminate the $500 off-premises catering permit and current cap on hours/events for an off-premises catering permit during the declared state of emergency.
     
  7. Clarify ambiguous language in business interruption insurance policies to ensure claims filed during the COVID-19 pandemic are quickly and efficiently paid to businesses (Senate Bill 1127).
     

Under this proposal, liquor licensees that are cited for violating public health orders or the liquor code would be subject to forfeiture of any grants received or any fees waived by the PLCB.

I would like to personally thank Senators Iovino and Brewster for their continuous work with Senate leadership to ensure that relief to Pennsylvania bars and restaurants remains a legislative priority. As the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus, we encourage all Pennsylvanians to support their local restaurants and taverns to the greatest extent possible by ordering takeout or delivery; carryoutpa.com provides a listing of local businesses across the state.

I firmly believe that ANY recovery from COVID-19 needs to include programs & innovative funding solutions to allow small businesses to reopen and get back on their feet.  This proposal is a common-sense, no-brainer solution – now is the time that we need to come together and join to help bring Pennsylvania BACK – and better than EVER!

Grants for Small Business Affected by COVID-19

The application window for the first round of the COVID -19 Relief Pennsylvania Statewide Small Business Assistance Program is now closed. The second application window is expected to open in August.
The PA CDFI Network will send an email announcing when the next application window is open.

If you applied during the first application window,
you do not need to reapply during the second application window.
Qualified applications will be automatically rolled over into
the next funding round for consideration.

It has been a long road for small businesses in Pennsylvania during this pandemic and there hasn’t been much help for our neighborhood businesses, our local shops, our barbers and salons, our pet groomers, and so many more of our community businesses — until now.

In June, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) announced that program guidelines and additional details for the new COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Grants are now available.

This new grant program will provide $225 million in COVID-19 relief assistance to small businesses across Pennsylvania. Funding will be distributed through Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI’s).
Local CDFIs will be administering the funding in the forms of:

  • Grants to cover operating expenses for the duration of the shutdown and the transition period to re-opening;
  • Grants to cover technical assistance, including training and guidance, for business owners as they stabilize and relaunch their businesses;
  • Debt payment relief for CDFI Pennsylvania borrowers;
  • Loan loss reserves for CDFIs.

The funds will be distributed in three ways:

  • $100 million for the Main Street Business Revitalization Program for small businesses that experienced loss as a result of the governor’s March 19, 2020 order relating to the closure of all non-life-sustaining businesses and have or will incur costs to adapt to new business operations related to COVID-19;
  • $100 million for the Historically Disadvantaged Business Revitalization Program for small businesses that experienced loss as a result of the business closure order, have or will incur costs to adapt to new business operations related to COVID-19, and in which socially and economically disadvantaged individuals own at least a 51 percent interest and also control management and daily business operations;
  • $25 million for the Loan Payment Deferment and Loss Reserve Program, which will allow the CDFIs the opportunity to offer forbearance and payment relief for existing portfolio businesses that are struggling due to the impact of COVID, as well as shore up the financial position of the CDFIs that are experiencing significant increased defaults in their existing loan portfolios.

Eligible businesses with 25 or fewer employees may receive a maximum grant of $50,000 so long as the business was in operation on February 15, 2020 and, if required, paid income taxes to the state and federal government, as reported on individual or business tax returns; COVID-19 has had an adverse economic impact and makes this grant request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the applicant; the grant will be used cover COVID-19 related costs; and during the period beginning on June 1, 2020 and ending on December 31, 2020, the applicant has not and will not receive another grant under this state program. 

All businesses must apply through an eligible CDFI and meet the program requirements which, at a minimum, include:

  • The business was in operation on February 15, 2020 and if required paid income taxes to the state and federal government, as reported on individual or business tax returns;
  • COVID-19 has had an adverse economic impact and makes this grant request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the applicant;
  • The grant will be used to cover COVID-19 related costs;
  • During the period beginning on June 1, 2020 and ending on December 31, 2020, the applicant has not and will not receive another grant under this state program.

CDFI’s who will be implementing the program in the Lehigh Valley are:

Northampton County COVID-19 ​Relief ​Small Business Grant Program

Northampton County

Northampton County created a $4 million small business grant fund to distribute their share of the CARES Act funding to local small businesses. The Northampton County COVID-19 Relief Small Business Grant Program will be administered by the County Administration in partnership with the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Northampton County Businesses with fewer than 100 employees may apply through July 31, 2020 for up to a $15,000 grant for COVID-19 related expenses. Once applications are received, Northampton County DCED in partnership with the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce will process applications and review for administrative completeness.

Grant applications will be reviewed by a committee consisting of Northampton County Administration, Northampton County Council members and the Greater Lehigh valley Chamber of Commerce who will make recommendations to the Northampton County Executive.  Priority will be given to businesses that have not received other state or federal COVID-19 grant assistance and/or funding.

The County Executive will make final recommendations to Northampton County Council.  County Council will consider each application for approval or denial.  Northampton County will fund grants to approved businesses.

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Offices of State Senator Lisa M. Boscola

www.senatorboscola.com

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