Last evening, Congresswoman Madeleine Dean held a special telephone town hall focusing on businesses and the resource available to them during this time. A recap of this telephone conference is as follows:
Guest #1 Mohamed Ramadan, Strategy and Operations Economist: Mr. Ramadan discussed the effects of social distancing, separation and isolation and the sudden stop of life as we know it. He believes with the work of the government, identifying a vaccine, funding to protect liquidity will help in these trying times. He reminded everyone that we have all been yanked out of our comfort zone, we are scared and afraid during these uncertain times. This is not about means to spend, it is about our inability to spend. He is optimistic about this uncertain journey that will end, we are in it together and will end it together.
Guest #2 Gerry Oleksiak, Secretary of PA Labor & Industry: Mr. Oleksiak is from our area. He discussed unemployment compensation. He stated as we all know many are out of work, there are record numbers of people in PA filing. They will announce the figures for last week this Thursday, and then updated every Thursday going forward as per federal guidelines. He stated they have people working remotely but are still processing claims. Some regulatory changes that have been made this week: no waiting week, work search requirements suspended, and relief from charges for employers. He reminded everyone that staff is working from home and some are in the office, if it is difficult to get through, they are trying to adapt and are doing their best in these conditions. Staff understands that many need help and currently they are doing in a week what they normally do in one month. He provided the following links for assistance:
www.health.pa.gov – State Department of Health Website
www.uc.pa.gov – State UE website
www.uc.pa.gov/covid-19 – State UE website with frequently asked questions about filing. Website is updated frequently with additional questions as staff receives.
(people are encouraged to use this website as call volumes are high)
Guest #3 Carol Kilko, Deputy Secretary DCED Office of Business Financing: Carol discussed what her office is doing to help businesses and what to do next. She stated her office has been working with FEMA and PEMA and the SBA Federal Level to get the State qualified for Economic Industry Disaster Loans. She stated her office wants to help small businesses and are prepared to relax programs to help. She announced the Small Business First Program, which is a loan for small business working capital. On Monday her Board will hopefully approve no interest loans up to $100,000. Once this is approved businesses will need assistance with completing this loan application, at this time probably through the County Economic Office. The details are being worked out and once finalized Congresswoman Dean offered to share on her website and it will also be on the DCED website. Currently there is $20 million in funds available and in the last few days the Commonwealth Financing Authority transferred an additional $60 million to help fund this program. Her office continues to explore other iniatives to help small business. She encouraged everyone to visit www.dced.gov. All information will be on the home page. Again this loan program will not be available until 3/25.
Guest #4 Michael Kane, Eastern Deputy District Director for the SBA: Mr.Kane stated the SBA is here to help small business which is the backbone of our economy. He stated all information on their programs and where to apply only for COVID-19 assistance is www.disasterloan.sba.gov The current terms for working capital are up to 30 years, up to $2 million at 3.75% for profit business and 2.75% for non-profits. He shared his phone number, 610-382-3062, they are available to answer questions and get business owners in touch with Lender Relations Economic Development Specialists.
Congresswoman Dean announced in the third stimulus bill on the floor now (may have been passed overnight) is direct funding to local government to help. She also reminded everyone that the property tax rebate will continue. She encouraged everyone to continue to file your tax returns if owed money, IRS is processing refunds and this money will also help consumers.
She stated she is working in a bipartisan way to get bills passed to help our constituents, our communities and our business owners.
Please stay tuned for information on more of these events. Businesses are encouraged to tune in.