Governor Wolf Announces Financial Assistance Available to Small Businesses
Harrisburg, PA – Today, Governor Tom Wolf announced that new funding is available to help small businesses impacted by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, through a new program under the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority’s (PIDA) Small Business First Fund, the COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program (CWCA).
The Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) recently authorized the transfer of $40 million to the Small Business First Fund for CWCA. PIDA authorized making $60 million available to provide loans of $100,000 or less to for-profit businesses with 100 or fewer full-time employees. Funds are expected to become available this week.
As of 12:00 AM, March 25, there are 276 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,127 in 44 counties. The Department of Health also reported four new deaths, bringing the statewide death total to 11. County-specific information and a statewide map are available here
. All people are either in isolation at home or being treated at the hospital.
Gov. Wolf has enacted stay-at-home orders
for 10 counties: Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Erie, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, and Philadelphia counties. The newest order, for Lehigh and Northampton counties, takes effect at 8:00 PM today, Wednesday, March 25. All orders will continue until April 6, 2020.
“My top priority is to save Pennsylvania lives, then save their livelihoods. I am utilizing every resource available to assist Pennsylvania’s business during this incredibly difficult time, and this small business funding availability is a step in the right direction. It will help provide a little peace of mind to hundreds of small business owners and their employees,” Wolf said. “I will continue to develop ways to assist Pennsylvania’s business community, as well as our workforce. I also need every Pennsylvanian to step up and do their part. The best way we can preserve our economic future is by minimizing the spread of COVID-19.”
“In the wake of the unprecedented Coronavirus pandemic, it’s important that state government is trying to respond to all manner of its impacts, and that includes providing support to our small business community,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa, Jr. “The CFA took necessary and swift action to provide low interest loans to small businesses to help keep them afloat during these difficult times. I commend the leadership of Governor Wolf and the other caucuses of the General Assembly for working together so quickly to come up with a viable plan to provide this assistance.”
For the purposes of this program a retail or service enterprise is defined as a for-profit business entity that is involved in the business-to-business service, business-to-public service, mercantile, commercial, or point of sale retail sectors. An agricultural producer is defined as a business involved in the management and use of a normal agricultural operation for the production of a farm commodity. A “farm commodity” is any Pennsylvania-grown agricultural, horticultural, aquacultural, vegetable, fruit, and floricultural product of the soil, livestock and meats, wools, hides, furs, poultry, eggs, dairy products, nuts, mushrooms, honey products and forest products.
“There’s been major disruption to small businesses and their employees,” said House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody. “This is a bipartisan down payment to get some working capital out quickly. Much more help is needed and we’ll keep working on that.”
Eligible costs include working capital, which for purposes of this program is considered capital used by a small business for operations, excluding fixed assets and production machinery and equipment.
Any eligible working capital cost, as defined above, incurred by the eligible business enterprise three months prior to submission of the loan application will count as an eligible cost toward either the loan amount or, if applicable, the matching investment requirement. Retail / service enterprises are able to incur eligible working capital costs up to six months prior to submission of the loan application.
CLICK HERE FOR LINKS TO LOCAL CHURCHES AND THEIR SERVICES
Williamsport Bureau of Fire is offering a free bag lunch along with fire safety and prevention information to any school age child at their fire headquarters at 440 Walnut St. Williamsport from noon to 1pm until the end of the week.
Loyalsock Twp. School District will be providing breakfast and lunch drive thru and pick up meals for students 18 and younger beginning today until school resumes. Meals will be distributed at the High School entrance from 11:30am to 12:30pm Monday thru Friday. Meals are first come first served and child must be present.
Williamsport Area School District is offering free bagged grab and go breakfast and lunches to children 18 and younger from 11:30am to 12:30am Monday thru Friday during the closure at Curtin and Lycoming Valley Intermediate schools, Stevens Primary and Williamsport Area Middle School. Children must be present, meals are first come first served. (STARTING MONDAY 3/30 THE MEAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM WILL ONLY OPERATE FROM 11:30AM TO 12:30PM MONDAYS AND WEDNESDAYS. TO ENSURE STUDENTS RECEIVE THE SAME AMOUNT OF FOOD, MONDAY’S BAGGED MEALS WILL INCLUDE 2 BREAKFASTS AND 2 LUNCHES. WEDNESDAY’S BAGGED MEALS WILL INCLUDE 3 BREAKFASTS AND 3 LUNCHES) Please CLICK HERE for more information.
With the state shutdown of eat-in restaurants taking effect last night, we have a list of our dining partners that will be open for business for take-out, delivery or curbside assistance. We know this is a different time for all of us, so when you are thinking about what to have for lunch or dinner, make a call to one of our fantastic restaurants and get some take-out. You will love it and so will they!
We have linked most of the restaurants to their social media pages, so you can stay up to date with them.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has ordered a statewide shutdown because of COVID-19. All non-essential stores in Pennsylvania closed at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, including bars and restaurants, except for takeout.
Medical facilities and grocery stores are to stay open.
All Pennsylvania schools are closed until at least April 6th, the closure could go beyond April 6 if necessary.
Local College’s are extending Spring Break and/or are going online with classes.
USE 211 IN TIMES OF UNCERTAINTY
If you have questions about how to find resources in this time of uncertainty, residents in Williamsport can use 211 to find answers for solutions to the loss of a job, or how to cope with overwhelming utility bills. Using 211 puts a caller in touch with a caseworker 34/7 who will help them find the resources they need. According to the Sun Gazette the United Way can track what community needs are when callers use 211 and helps them serve the community better. The 211 service is also available online at PA211 and by texting your zip code to 898211.
The National Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends avoiding gatherings of 10 or more. This is not a law but a suggestion. Please take a moment to check out the “President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America.”
Some local 24-hr food markets and big box stores are limiting their hours to 6am-11pm. The reduced hours allow store cleaning and restocking. Please call ahead. These stores are being restocked at regular intervals and shoppers are urged not to over-buy and hoard.
The Williamsport Community Arts Center has cancelled the remaining shows on its schedule .
The Geisinger Coronavirus Hotline number is 570-284-3657
UPMC urges those with Coronovirus concerns to get guidance and updates at MyUPMC
A lot of local organizations are postponing their weekend dinners, meetings and gatherings. We urge you to call ahead.
Don’t forget your pets. It may be advisable to pick up extra pet food and supplies.
INFORMATION FROM THE WILLIAMSPORT CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
The Chamber has Postponed All Events Scheduled Through April 10, 2020
The Following Events are Postponed Until Further Notice:
- Muncy Bank & Trust Company – Ribbon Cutting & Open House
- Lycoming College PM Exchange
- Final 3
- North Central Sight Services PM Exchange
In addition to the above postponements, the Visitors Information Center will be closed through March 30. The Chamber offices will continue to be open and will address any travel and tourism related activity as necessary. We will continue to monitor federal and state mandates and provide updates as warranted on our programming and others affecting our community.
Coronavirus Business Resources
The federal government continues to take aggressive and proactive steps to address the COVID-19 threat as the health and safety of the American people remain a top priority. Please see below for the latest guidance and releases in response to COVID-19.
Secretary Azar Announces Historic Expansion of Telehealth Access to Combat COVID-19:
On Tuesday, the Trump Administration and HHS announced unprecedented steps to expand Americans’ access to telehealth services during the COVID-19 outbreak. The Centers for Medicare & and Medicaid Services (CMS) expanded Medicare coverage for telehealth visits, the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced it will waive potential HIPAA penalties for good faith use of telehealth during the emergency, and the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) provided flexibility for healthcare providers to reduce or waive beneficiary cost-sharing for telehealth visits paid by federal healthcare programs. For more information see links to the CMS press release
, OCR Guidance
, and OIG Policy Statement
FDA Expands Testing Capabilities:
On Monday night, FDA Commissioner Hahn announced
that states can set up their own system in which they take responsibility for authorizing such tests and the laboratories will not need to engage with the FDA to conduct COVID-19 testing. The updated guidance also expands the types of labs that can conduct testing and provides recommendations for test developers who are interested in developing a test. The FDA has established 1-888-INFO-FDA, to help labs with any questions they may have about the Emergency Use Authorization process, FDA policies or getting supplies. Similar to approving Roche testing last week, yesterday, the FDA also issued Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs)
to Hologic and LabCorp for their tests.
CMS Guidance for States to Apply for a Section 1135 Emergency Waiver:
CMS has provided guidance for states on how to apply for a Section 1135 waiver through the Medicaid Disaster Response Tool Kit
. A factsheet
was released that outlines the flexibilities for healthcare providers to combat and contain COVID-19. CMS will soon provide checklists and tools to further expedite requests and approvals for waivers and other commonly requested flexibilities. Yesterday, Florida
was the first state to apply for and receive approval for an 1135 waiver.
Restrictions on Gatherings:
On Monday, the White House Task Force released updated guidance
with a 15 day strategy to slow the spread of COVID-19 that recommends restricting gathers to 10 people or less.
CMS Nursing Home Guidance:
On Friday, CMS released updated nursing home guidance that further protects nursing home residents by restricting all visitors to nursing homes except in cases of end-of-life care. The memo can be found here
Guidance for Discontinuation of Home Isolation for Persons with COVID-19:
CDC released new guidance with strategies to discontinue home isolation with options including both a time-since-illness-onset and time-since-recovery (non-test-based) strategy as well as a test-based strategy. This guidance will assist healthcare providers and public health officials managing people with COVID-19 under home isolation. Information can be found here
Considerations in the Investigation of Cases and Clusters of COVID-19:
The World Health Organization released interim guidance
on Friday that includes operational guidance to for the rapid investigation of suspected COVID-19 cases after an alert or signal. It is to be used by local, regional, or national health authorities as considerations for investigating cases of COVID-19.
Regulatory Relief for Commercial Vehicles Delivering COVID-19 Supplies:
On Friday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued an Emergency Declaration
that provides regulatory relief for vehicles that are transporting medical supplies and equipment to support emergency relief efforts.
The CDC ON COVID-19:
Business Resources for Coronavirus from the PA Chamber of Business & Industry:
The US Chamber’s Coronavirus Response Toolkit:
The SBA Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19):
· advising employees to avoid visiting high-traffic events or locations on personal time
· reconfiguring meeting rooms, break rooms and other common areas to promote social distancing
· expanding the time of meal service to avoid congestion, and asking employees to consider alternate meal times to reduce crowds
|Survey Regarding Coronavirus Impact on Area Businesses and Organizations
In collaboration with the Clinton County Economic Partnership, your Chamber is collecting data on the impact of the Coronavirus on our area businesses and organizations. We plan to communicate this information to county, state and federal legislators so they have a better perspective on how local business is being affected. Your input is valuable. Please complete this brief survey by April 3, 2020.