(WHTM) — New state funding is trying to give small businesses a boost, especially minority, women and veteran-owned businesses. State officials say a $20 million investment in the budget will give businesses the funds they need to grow.
“We will never leave any community behind,” Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Austin Davis said.
For Davis, that includes the small business community.
“They create a community, and they create commerce, not just jobs but ladders of opportunities for folks to succeed,” he said.
For businesses owned by women, minorities and veterans, investing them is particularly important. Davis said they face unique challenges.
“Minority-owned businesses are three times more likely to be denied a loan and pay a higher interest rate,” he said.
This year’s state budget includes $20 million to fund the Historically Disadvantaged Business Program.
“We actually know that funding like this works because our team did it,” Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Rick Siger said.
The program builds on pandemic-era experience. During COVID, DCED gave out more than $100 million in grants.
“We learned how to distribute the funding quickly and accountably to the folks who needed it most,” Siger said.
Steelton business owner Star Dent knows the small business struggle firsthand.
“It was hard, it took a lot of savings to actually get it up and running,” the owner of Candle Kreationz Dent said.
She also thinks this program could help.
“I think it would be helpful for people that’s trying to start a business or thinking about starting a business to help make their dreams come true as well,” Dent said.
Dent opened her candle-making shop two months ago.
“I was making candles at home which was a hobby for me, I was just doing it as a hobby,” she said.
Officials said that is exactly the kind of business they want to support.
“It’s important that every Pennsylvanian, no matter what they look like or where they live has the freedom to chart their own course and achieve the American dream here,” Davis said.
The details like what businesses are eligible and how the money is going to be broken down are still getting ironed out. Officials said the eligibility guidelines will be released as soon as possible — before the end of the year. Businesses will then be able to apply for money, and Siger said that funding will most likely be a mix of grants and small loans.