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LVEDC Helping Connect Lehigh Valley Small Businesses with COVID-19 Financing

By Colin McEvoy on March 31, 2020

The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) has been actively working to connect regional small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic with emergency relief loans and access to capital.

LVEDC has taken an “all hands on deck” approach to the matter, reassigning the majority of staff from normal duties so that nearly everyone in the organization is available to assist with applications for disaster relief loans through the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA).

UPDATE: As of 6 p.m. on March 31, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development no longer is accepting applications for the COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program (CWCA). The applications received as of that time surpassed the funding available to the program.

“What’s most important right now is to get as much financial assistance as possible to the businesses of the Lehigh Valley,” said LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham. “We will use all available and qualified staff to make that happen. We are grateful for the support of both counties and other economic development agencies to help. Time is of the essence with this work.”

On March 25, PIDA opened the loan application process for its COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program (CWCA), under which for-profit small businesses with 100 or fewer employees worldwide could be eligible for working capital loans up to $100,000. The application period closed on March 31 at 6 p.m.

During the application period, LVEDC has been fielding many inquiries from Lehigh Valley companies about the program, providing information and application forms through LVEDC’s dedicated CWCA website, and letting them know what we need in order for staff to review and submit loan applications to the state.

LVEDC normally has two staff members assigned to managing financial applications, but the organization has shifted the majority of staff to play some role in the PIDA process, from intake and preliminary review, to analyses and submitting the applications. The Allentown Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) has also provided assistance, and the counties of Lehigh and Northampton have offered help as well.

“Due to high demand and limited funds across the state, we’re doing everything we can to respond and process as many applications as possible,” said Jaime Whalen, LVEDC Vice President of Administration and Investor Relations and Chief of Staff, said before the application period closed. “Our team is working around the clock on this because we understand how important it is to the Lehigh Valley business community.”

The Lehigh Valley Economic Investment Corporation – for which LVEDC provides administrative services – is the Certified Economic Development Organization (CEDO) for Lehigh and Northampton counties. PIDA loan applications had to be submitted through a CEDO.

LVEDC has also been providing Lehigh Valley companies information about other emergency financing options, including the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) disaster loan assistance, which is providing up to $2 million loans for fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid due to the disaster’s impact.

To apply for disaster loan assistance, visit this SBA website. The Lehigh Valley Small Business Development Center (SBDC) can assist with the application process. Visit here to contact them or for more information.

A $150,000 grant pool has been established for Lehigh Valley businesses and nonprofits seeking relief as a result of COVID-19. The pool was made possible through a partnership created by the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce and BB&T, now Truist, along with business leaders like Tom Groves of Equinox and David Jaindl. Businesses can seek up to $2,000 each for rent, payroll, and other operating expenses.

Additionally, at the federal level, a $2 trillion federal stimulus package was signed by the President on March 27. Along with new tax provisions, the legislation includes a major new loan initiative for small businesses called the Keep American Workers Paid and Employed Act. It will provide $377 billion to help prevent workers from losing their jobs and small businesses from going under due to economic losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Information about COVID-19 financing options can be found on LVEDC’s financing page, and coronavirus-related resources and information for the Lehigh Valley business community can be found at lehighvalley.org/covid19. LVEDC continues to monitor the region’s economic impacts from the pandemic, and has been updating those sites as new information becomes available.

LVEDC is also supporting a multi-agency effort to connect Lehigh Valley businesses that have available health care supplies with care-providing sites throughout the region that have a need for those supplies.

A list of in-demand materials and equipment can be found here. If your organization has items in its inventory, or if you are a manufacturer that has shifted operations to produce them, and you are willing to provide them for regional health care sites, contact Karianne Gelinas, LVEDC Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Research, at [email protected].

LVEDC also issued a survey earlier this month inviting Lehigh Valley employers to provide information about the impact of COVID-19 and mitigation efforts on the regional economy and their businesses. The organization may be issuing additional surveys in the near future.

The survey concluded on March 22, and the initial findings can be found here. A total of 90.9% of Lehigh Valley employers surveyed said they have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 and mitigation efforts, and 64.5% of the participants reported an immediate decrease in business revenues by more than 10%.

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