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Minority-owned businesses benefited most from state's COVID-19 relief grant program

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Governor Tom Wolf visits Magical Days Learning Center in West Manchester Township to discuss how the COVID-19 Small Business Assistance Grant program supports small, local businesses that were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This program awards much-needed grants to small main street and historically disadvantaged businesses across the commonwealth. Monday, August 17, 2020
John A. Pavoncello photo

Minority-owned businesses accounted for the majority of the nearly 5,000 small businesses that received funds through the state's recent COVID-19 relief grant program, and another wave of funding is on the way.

Speaking at Magical Days Learning Center in West Manchester Township on Monday, Gov. Tom Wolf and other state officials said that 51% of businesses that received grants through the Small Business Assistance Grant program were owned by minorities, while 68% were owned by women.

“Having the ability to apply for and receive this grant has allowed, and will allow, this business to continue to do what we do best: Provide a safe learning environment for over 100 children here in York County,” said Magical Days co-owner Veronica Bunty.

More:York County has 23 new COVID-19 cases, no additional deaths in state

More:Closer Look: Big York County firms ate up bulk of PPP funds

Magical Days Learning Center, receiving a $25,000 grant, was one of 25 York County businesses to receive funding. The average grant was $20,000, and York County businesses received $385,000 through the program.

Child care centers were just one of many different kinds of businesses to receive money from the $96 million pool that was allocated for the grant program statewide.

Governor Tom Wolf visits Magical Days Learning Center in West Manchester Township to discuss how the COVID-19 Small Business Assistance Grant program supports small, local businesses that were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This program awards much-needed grants to small main street and historically disadvantaged businesses across the commonwealth. Monday, August 17, 2020
John A. Pavoncello photo

Manufacturers, restaurants and other businesses with 25 or fewer employees, many of them minority-owned, received grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000.

“Our minority-owned and historically disadvantaged businesses are more vulnerable to disruptions like the COVID-19 pandemic, and through this program we took special care to ensure that funding went to our most at-risk businesses first," said Neil Weaver, deputy secretary of the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

Daniel Betancourt, president of Community First Fund, noted that grants focused on small businesses are critical, especially since large businesses ate up a majority of the funds from the federal Paycheck Protection Program.

In York County, at least $232 million in loans were doled out under that program. Of that, loans of less than $150,000 accounted for roughly $62 million, or 27%. About $170 million, or 73%, went to firms seeking more, often significantly more. Those loans will be forgiven if 60% of the money is used to pay salaries.

DCED Deputy Secretary Neil Weaver visits Magical Days Learning Center in West Manchester Township with Governor Tom Wolf to discuss how the COVID-19 Small Business Assistance Grant program supports small, local businesses that were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This program awards much-needed grants to small main street and historically disadvantaged businesses across the commonwealth. Monday, August 17, 2020
John A. Pavoncello photo

The state has made an effort prioritize smaller businesses, though, on top of the $96 million in grants doled out through the Small Business Assistance Grant program.

In the $26 billion stopgap budget Wolf signed into law in May, the DCED was allocated $225 million to specifically aid small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

And those funds will continue to be utilized, as small businesses can now apply for a second wave of Statewide Small Business Assistance Grant funding through Aug. 28.

Historically disadvantaged businesses, or those that are at least 51% owned and operated by persons of color, will receive at least 50% of the grants.

The DCED will also take into consideration women-owned businesses, rural communities and communities targeted for business investment by programs such as Main Street and Elm Street..

Those wishing to apply can do so here.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.