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Allentown Program to Assist Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

By Colin McEvoy on November 24, 2021

Allentown has been ranked one of the Top 100 Best Places to Live by U.S. News & World Report.

The Allentown Department of Community & Economic Development has launched the new Allentown Small Business Spark Program.

The city of Allentown has launched a new program to support small businesses and provide technical assistance grants to businesses recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

The Allentown Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED) has announced the launch of the new Allentown Small Business Spark Program, in collaboration with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Lehigh University.

Allocating $250,000 of CARES Act funding, the city is seeking to bring technical assistance consulting directly to those small businesses in need. This support system provides mentorship and services in some of the most sought-after need areas essential for business growth and development.

This program was created out of recognition of the need for more localized and individualized tools for small business owners to succeed during the current pandemic, Allentown Mayor Ray O’Connell said.

“This program was developed based upon direct feedback we received during our small business roundtable sessions, particularly from those industries that are feeling the greatest impact of the pandemic,” O’Connell said. “They’ve shared that these are the areas of greatest need, and we’re working to meet that need in a way that supports other small businesses through the process.”

Businesses with fewer than 50 employees will be eligible to receive up to 14 hours of assistance from local experts in a number of areas, including marketing, e-commerce, website, cybersecurity, social media, financial management, legal assistance, and more.

Those ecosystem consulting services will be provided by other local businesses that can submit a proposal to the SBDC. The request for service providers is launching Monday, November 15, 2021, and is available at the SBDC website.

Priority will be given to small, diverse, and Allentown-based service providers, according to Allentown DCED Director Leonard Lightner.

“We’re looking to capitalize on the strong entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Lehigh Valley,” Lightner said. “This program is intended to enhance that ecosystem and providing the spark to accelerate the recovery of our business community to flourish and grow.” 

Allentown small businesses may apply to receive the technical assistance grants beginning Dec. 13. Businesses are required to complete a one-page intake form available on the SBDC website. The application will be available in both English and Spanish. 

“This partnership with the City of Allentown has the potential to positively impact so many businesses that suffered the adverse effects of this pandemic,” said Brett Smith, Director of the SBDC at Lehigh University. “The Allentown Small Business Spark Program will deepen our relationships and provide the knowledge for these businesses to recover and expand in the months and years to come.”

The program will begin with this initial investment in the hopes of supporting more than 100 Allentown businesses, according to the city. From there, additional funding will be assessed based on interest in the program.

Technical assistance grants will be awarded with work to begin taking place in early January and will continue through May 31, 2022. 

For additional information, please contact the City of Allentown Office of Business Expansion, Attraction and Retention via email at [email protected].

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