Gov. Wolf Highlights Support of Small Businesses During COVID-19 at PA Small Business Development Centers Conference

Governor Tom Wolf today highlighted the achievements of the Wolf Administration to support small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic during the opening session of the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers’ (PASBDC) Growth Conference.

“Small businesses are a crucial part of our economy. They are our entrepreneurs, our community-focused employers, and our friends and neighbors. The Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers are an essential resource for small businesses and I’m grateful for all of their hard work to help entrepreneurs develop new business ideas, make business plans, and navigate the myriad challenges of starting, running, or expanding a business,” Gov. Wolf said. “This conference is a great opportunity for people who want small businesses to succeed to come together and talk about the innovative ways we can encourage small business growth in Pennsylvania. Working together, we can all help our small businesses thrive, and I thank the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers and their consultants for everything they are doing to support our business community.”

The virtual Growth Conference provided an opportunity for PASBDC’s statewide network of 160 consultants to come to together for a time of learning and networking.

“The Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers were pleased to welcome Governor Wolf as our opening keynote speaker to our annual professional development conference. The governor’s support of small business grant and low-interest loan programs as well as his continued support of small business technical assistance programs like the SBDC demonstrate the continued commitment that Governor Wolf has to our commonwealth’s entrepreneurial community,” said Ernie Post, PASBDC state director.

PASBDC supports Pennsylvania’s economic development by providing entrepreneurs and small businesses with individual consultations, comprehensive education, and information necessary to help their businesses start, grow, and prosper. PASBDC delivers consulting services and educational programs through a network of 16 locations across Pennsylvania.

Consultants work with entrepreneurs in confidential, one-to-one sessions to help them with issues, including new business development, shaping a business plan, investigating funding opportunities, and much more. SBDCs also address concerns about navigating and recovering during the COVID-19 crisis, including helping with disaster loan applications, long-term planning, economic loss estimations, and business preparedness.

Throughout the pandemic, the Wolf Administration has worked to provide tools and resources to help our small business community weather the challenges of this pandemic, including allocating $225 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding for Small Business Assistance. This program prioritized grants to main street and historically disadvantaged businesses in the commonwealth. More than 10,000 businesses were approved for grants, half of which went to historically disadvantaged businesses. Another $50 million in CARES Act funding was allocated to Hazard Pay for frontline workers. Further, the COVID-19 Capital Working Access Program (CWCA) provided $60 million in loans to small businesses, the administration deferred loan repayments for businesses.

The Wolf Administration also provided aid to targeted industries that were hit especially hard by the pandemic, including providing grants to child care providers. To the hospitality industry, the governor worked with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to waive standard licensing fees through 2021, providing more than 16,000 Pennsylvania restaurants and bars, clubs, catering clubs and hotels with $20 million in relief. Governor Wolf also initiated a transfer of $145 million to the General Fund from the Worker’s Compensation Fund at the Pennsylvania Insurance Department to help businesses that are still struggling due to the pandemic. The General Assembly directed this money into the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program, or CHIRP.

Governor Wolf also prioritized essential workers during the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. The Wolf Administration worked with the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force, industry leaders and public health officials to help special populations of frontline workers get vaccinated in recent weeks, including grocery store workers and agriculture industry workers.

As Pennsylvania moves forward toward recovery from the pandemic, the governor has unveiled a bold, comprehensive workforce and economic development plan, Back to Work PA, which would bolster economic recovery efforts and position Pennsylvania for economic growth. It will build a more diverse and robust economy than ever before and our businesses, especially our small businesses, will have the resources and talent they need to grow and thrive and our workers will have the skills to succeed in well-paying jobs and build prosperity for generations to come.

Video of the governor’s opening session remarks is available online.