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Lehigh Valley Small Businesses Receiving Emergency COVID-19 Relief Funding

By Colin McEvoy on June 1, 2020

This article originally appeared in the June 4, 2020 issue of “LV Connections,” a quarterly newsletter LVEDC distributes to municipal officials in the Lehigh Valley.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused unprecedented economic challenges not only in Lehigh Valley, but across the nation and the world. But some regional companies were able to take advantage of emergency financing to help get them through these difficult times, with help from the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC).

In one such example, LVEDC, which provides administrative staff for the Lehigh Valley Economic Investment Corporation, the region’s certified economic development organization, submitted 26 loan applications to the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority’s COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program (CWCA). The loan requests totaled $2.3 million in loan financing.

One of those companies was BRD Noise and Vibration Control, which was approved for a $100,000 loan. Tim McNair, Chief Financial Officer with the company, said the funding helped support the company’s essential manufacturing operations during the economic slowdown.

“LVEDC’s guidance and support was an important step for BRD in navigating the process to access funding options for small businesses during this pandemic,” McNair said. “The team at LVEDC reviewed options and identified the best path forward to secure necessary funding. … We are fortunate to have a local organization supporting our efforts to remain viable throughout the pandemic.”

LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham said: “It is crucial for companies that have closed or suffered revenue losses to find working capital to help create a financial bridge. We worked diligently to ensure the business community was aware of the resources available so they can get the financing they need during this trying time.”

During the application process, which closed March 31 when funds allocated by the state ran out, LVEDC adopted an “all hands on deck” approach, reassigning the majority of staff  so that nearly everyone in the organization was available to assist with applications. Not all companies that were approved to receive loans decided to accept them.

“Even after the loan applications were submitted, our staff continued to work expeditiously with the state to ensure emergency financial assistance was provided to the Lehigh Valley business community as rapidly as possible,” said Jaime Whalen, LVEDC Vice President of Administration and Investor Relations and Chief of Staff.

The Allentown Economic Development Corporation and the counties of Northampton and Lehigh provided support or direct assistance with the application process.

The CWCA was just one of several regional, state, and federal programs through which Lehigh Valley small businesses could seek emergency funds. LVEDC continues to spend a great deal of time communicating with the business community about other available financing options. Information was also posted on LVEDC’s business financing webpage and its standalone COVID-19 resources website, lehighvalley.org/covid19.

One of the most popular and advantageous programs that LVEDC continues to share information about is the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a federal program that authorized up to $349 billion in loans to small businesses to keep workers on the payroll and cover other business costs. LVEDC worked actively with Lehigh University’s Small Business Development Center to connect businesses with PPP funding.

More than 153,000 businesses have been awarded funding across Pennsylvania so far, totaling more than $20 billion, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Some of the other local programs include a $250,000 relief fund for small businesses, established by Northampton County and administered by the Rising Tide Community Loan Fund. Small Business Emergency Relief Funds were also established by the city of Bethlehem and the Greater Easton Development Partnership, and the city of Allentown established a Small Business Stabilization Program.

The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce and BB&T, now Truist, also offered three rounds of COVID-19 relief grants ranging from $500 to $1,500 for regional businesses and nonprofits. To date, the fund has provided 320 small business owners totaling $350,000, according to the Chamber.

Additionally, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania awarded $4 million to startups in response to COVID-19.

LVEDC Q&A: Susan Larkin Discusses Staffing Challenges During COVID-19

The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) is led by a Board of Directors with expertise that represents a broad cross-section of the regional economy. LVE[...]

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