Pa. First Lady hosts online forum about help for small businesses

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — An online forum Wednesday, led by Pennsylvania’s First Lady, focused on helping small businesses.

One of the main messages during the virtual forum: what loans, grants, and resources are available now?

Most recently state officials announced $145 million in grant funding to help the Commonwealth’s hospitality industry. Additionally, the state has what’s called a business one-stop-shop online.

“It is specifically for small businesses, for entrepreneurs. It connects you to anything you could possibly think of that you would need for running your business,” said Carol Kilko, Deputy Secretary of Business Finance, Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

That includes what you need to do to apply for specific loans, like the paycheck protection program or PPP. There are also 16 Pennsylvania small business development centers around the Commonwealth, that provide similar help for free.

“In 2020, we were able to assist small businesses access over $300 million,” said Marcia McGavisk, Director of Capital Acquisition for the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) at Kutztown University.

Midstate minority business owner Jasmine Childs says her three-year-old company Brewzer, a beer, wine and party supply delivery service was hit hard, like so many, during the pandemic, but she hasn’t seen any money, despite applying numerous times to different programs.

“They’re saying it’s hard for me to prove economic injury and that’s hard for me to understand because we’ve all been impacted by it,” Childs said.

While Childs has been able to keep her business afloat, she doesn’t understand why her minority-owned business hasn’t been given more of a priority. We asked the state why she was denied, but have not heard back yet.

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