COVID-19 Financing Options

Municipal, state and federal agencies are providing financing assistance to small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many programs have closed or will soon be closing. This page provides important information and connections with special government financing programs, as well as regular financing options available through LVEDC and the Lehigh Valley Lending Network.

Northampton County COVID-19 Relief Small Business Grant Program

The Northampton County small business grant program is accepting applications.  Northampton County partnered with the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce to distribute $15 million in American Rescue Plan funds to assist Northampton County businesses with 100 or fewer employees.

Grants of up to $15,000 are available to eligible businesses. Applicants must operate primarily in Northampton County and file a Pennsylvania tax return. Click here to apply.

Allentown Small Business Spark Program

The City of Allentown has launched a program to provide technical assistance grants for small businesses recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The city has allocated $250,000 of federal CARES Act funding to provide technical assistance to affected small businesses.

Allentown businesses with fewer than 50 employees may receive up to 14 hours of assistance from local experts in fields such as finance, law, marketing, e-commerce, cybersecurity, and social media.

The city is working with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Lehigh University. An application form for small businesses seeking assistance or looking to provide services to small businesses is available on the SBDC website.

Restaurant Relief Fund

The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce supports restaurants to help offset COVID-related expenses they incurred during restrictions on indoor dining. Lehigh Valley restaurants operating on a main street or surrounding traditional neighborhood may apply. A total of $150,000 is available to restaurant owners. Visit here for more information.

Lehigh County CARES Act Tourism Grant Program

Lehigh County is using federal CARES Act funding to provide grants for tourism-related businesses in Lehigh Valley. The grant program is administered by Lehigh County in partnership with Discover Lehigh Valley. For-profit and non-profit tourism businesses of any size that have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic may apply.

Paycheck Protection Program

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) closed May 31, 2021. 

PPP borrowers can find information about loan forgiveness and other financial assistance programs on the Small Business Administration (SBA) website.

  • The SBA will forgive loans if borrowers met employee retention criteria and used funds for eligible expenses.
  • Borrowers receive full loan forgiveness if they spend at least 60% of their PPP loan on payroll costs over a time period of their choosing, between 8 and 24 weeks.
  • Any PPP loan amount not forgiven becomes is repayable over five years at 1% interest.
  • PPP loan forgiveness expenses are tax-deductible.
  • Recipients of EIDL grants (see Other SBA Programs section below) do not have to deduct the grant amount from their PPP loan forgiveness amount.
Quick links:

Other SBA Programs

The SBA is accepting applications until Dec. 31, 2021, for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). The maximum loan amount has been increased from $500,000 to $2 million. The application process has been streamlined to help small businesses seeking relief. EIDL funds may be used for any normal operating expenses and working capital, including payroll, equipment purchases, and paying debt.

EIDL repayments are deferred until 2 years after loan origination. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for nonprofits for 30-year terms with no pre-payment penalties or fees.

The SBA also offers grants (EIDL Advance) of up to $10,000 for businesses in low-income communities that can demonstrate more than a 30% reduction in revenue for any 8-week period starting on or after March 2, 2020, and have 300 or fewer employees.

The SBA Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program provides small businesses that have existing relationships with SBA Express lenders access to as much as $25,000, which may be used as a term loan or bridge loan while applying for an EIDL loan. The SBA is updating its website to reflect program changes.

The SBA is providing Debt Relief to businesses with existing 7(a), 504 and Microloans. Borrowers do not need to apply for debt relief assistance. The SBA provides it automatically.

The SBA has temporarily eliminated certain 504 loan program fees as part of the new economic aid package enacted in December 2020.

The Lehigh University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) can assist with the application process and provide additional information about SBA programs.

Quick links:

Shuttered Venue Operators Grant

The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program provided relief to operators or promoters of live performance venues, theater operators, performing arts organizations, museums, movie theaters, and talent representatives. The program closed Aug. 20, 2021, but the SVOG portal remains open for applicants and grant recipients.

U.S. Rep Susan Wild announced that more than $20 million in SVOG funding has been awarded to venues and organizations in the 7th Congressional District.

Employee Retention Tax Credit Extended

The Employee Retention Tax Credit of the CARES Act, which was established to encourage employers to keep workers on their payroll, has been extended to cover 70% of qualified wages through Dec. 31, 2021. The per-employee wage cap has been increased to $7,000 in fully refundable payroll tax credits per employee per quarter, or $28,000 for the year.

Employers that received PPP loans are eligible to claim the Employee Retention Tax Credit, although payroll costs used to determine the amount of PPP loan forgiveness may not include costs for which the Employee Retention Tax Credit was claimed.

Deferral of Social Security Tax Payments

Deferral of the employers’ share of Social Security tax payments has been extended through the March 2021 period. Deferred payments may be repaid as late as 2022. The extension does not relieve employers of their obligation to pay Social Security taxes.

Federal Reserve Main Street Lending Program

The Federal Reserve’s Main Street Lending Program is designed to help credit flow to small businesses that were in sound financial condition before the pandemic but now face cash flow interruptions. The program offers 5-year loans of $250,000 to $3,000,000 with floating rates and principal payments deferred for two years and interest payments deferred for one year.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston is registering interested lenders through the program portal. Businesses will apply for loans from participating lenders, who will determine eligibility and loan approval.

The Federal Reserve intends to purchase 95% of Main Street Lending Program loans to share the risk that otherwise would be absorbed solely by lenders, creating additional capacity for lenders to extend more loans.

Links to COVID-19 Programs Now Closed

Access to the lowest-cost loans available

The Lehigh Valley Lending Network (LVLN) is an award-winning, nationally recognized unique partnership of local financial institutions with a goal to create efficiencies in accessing credit and other resources within the private commercial lending community. The Lending Network also provides the client with resources to maximize the use of incentives available through the economic development community and to connect borrowers to a lending network that provides business financing & commercial loans at fixed-rates in Lehigh Valley for machinery, equipment and more.

The LVLN provides a single point of access to allow business financing proposals to be broadcast to many commercial lending institutions simultaneously. Additionally, the financing programs that Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) administers on behalf of the Lehigh Valley’s regional economic development organizations may be marshaled to assist in a given project.

The membership of the LVLN is comprised of private commercial lending institutions serving the Lehigh Valley.



Lehigh ValleyQuick Facts

By the Numbers
$43.3 Billion

2020 Gross Domestic Product

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City Center Lehigh Valley
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10.6% of Labor Force
Employed in Manufacturing

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Lehigh Valley Health Network
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$3.8 Billion

Exports in 2019

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Air Products
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Lehigh Valley Electricians
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Median Household Income

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PPL Electric Utilities
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Labor Force

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26.6% of Labor Force
Employed in "Eds & Meds" sectors

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Technology Patents

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Mack Trucks
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Magestic Realty Co
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14% of the total community college degrees awarded in PA

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Wells Fargo
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$7.1 Billion

Manufacturing Contribution to GDP

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69th largest metropolitan area in the U.S. by population

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Key Bank
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10,754 degrees awarded by Lehigh Valley colleges (2017-18 academic year)

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St. Lukes University Health Network
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82,270 employed in "Eds & Meds" sectors

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Population between ages 18 and 34

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