Officials from a nonprofit that distributed millions of dollars of money to help small businesses stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic were in Harrisburg on Monday.
The reason? To ask that money be included in this year’s state budget to help small businesses with guidance and loans.
Leaders with the Pennsylvania Community Development Financial Institutions Network were asking legislators to include $120 million in this year’s state budget to create a $100 million loan fund that would be managed by the network, a collective of 18 community development financial institutions, for small business, as well as $20 million in grant money.
Officials said that some small businesses are still reeling from the effects of the pandemic and inflation and that more funding is still needed for continued recovery.
“We‘re asking for another $20 million to support mom-and-pop businesses across the state,” said Daniel Betancourt, CEO of Community First Fund and chair of the Pa. CDFI Network.
The $20 million would be used to provide grants to CDFIs to provide free business counseling and technical assistance to small businesses across the state. Last year, $20 million was also put into the budget for the network.
CDFI officials are also asking for a one-time request of $100 million to create a fund to provide loan capital to lend to small entrepreneurs.
The CDFIs had a big hand in distributing money to small businesses during the pandemic. It distributed more than $250 million among 14,530 small businesses across the state’s 67 counties, which it said resulted in the retention of 54,483 jobs.
“These are organizations that know how to deploy capital to our smallest businesses and our mainstream businesses, our women-owned businesses and our minority-owned businesses,” State Rep. Leanne Kruger (D), said at a press conference on Monday. “These are the organizations that have been doing this work for a very long time. And yet when the pandemic hit and when we had an urgent need to get capital into our Pennsylvania businesses that needed it most, these are the folks who sprang into action.”
Representatives from both parties spoke in support of the group in a news conference on Monday. State House Republican leader Bryan Cutler and State Rep. Sara Innamorato (D) also spoke in support of CDFI. Officials and state legislators were also joined by small business owners that have received assistance from CDFIs.
Founded in 1997, the PA CDFI Network provides affordable loans and technical advisory services to companies that many times are unable to access financing through traditional channels.
In the midstate, the Community First Fund based in Lancaster is the community development financial institution that represents communities in Dauphin, Cumberland, Perry, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, York, Berks and Adams counties. The Community First Fund also serves communities in the Lehigh Valley, the Philadelphia area and parts of Delaware and New Jersey.Source: PENN LIVE