Kimberly Hileman

COVID-19 Hazard Pay Grant Program

Governor Wolf announced the availability of new grant funding to help employers retain workers in life-sustaining occupations.

Grant funds may be used for hazard pay for direct, full-time and part-time employees earning less than $20/hour, excluding fringe benefits and overtime. Funds may only be used for pay during the 10-week period from August 16, 2020 through October 24, 2020. Hazard pay means additional pay for performing hazardous duty or work involving physical hardship, in each case that is related to COVID-19. Applicants may apply for up to $1,200 per eligible full-time equivalent (FTE) employee and is to be paid as a $3/hour increase to regular pay. Employers may apply for up to 500 eligible full-time equivalent employees per location ($600,000 maximum grant per location).

Eligible employers must be located in PA and operate within one of the following industries:

  • Healthcare – nursing and residential care facilities, hospitals, ambulatory health care services
  • Social Assistance – child day care services, individual and family services, community food and other emergency services
  • Food Manufacturing
  • Food Retail Facilities – grocery and specialty food stores
  • Janitorial Services
  • Transit and Ground Passenger Transportation
  • Security Services for industries listed above

The grant closes July 31, 2020. Please feel free to contact us should you like additional information

Open Application Period for the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP)

The eagerly anticipated application period for Pennsylvania’s largest economic development grant program is expected to open for 30 days starting on July 13, 2020. The Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) provides grants for the acquisition and construction of economic, cultural, civic, recreational and historical improvement projects. Earlier this month the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate approved SB 905, the Capital Budget Itemization bill. The Governor is expected to sign this bill by the end of June, giving the program the green light to open up for new applications.

Projects with a total cost of $1 million or more are eligible to apply for up to 50% of the total construction budget. Candidates for RACP must have been previously authorized in a Capital Budget Itemization Act in order to be eligible. Not sure what that means? We have a unique expertise in this particular program and can assist with all aspects of this process from the application completion to the drawdown of awarded grant funds.

Please contact us to learn more.

New Grant Funding Announced for PA Small Businesses

Governor Wolf has recently announced the availability of $225 million in funding for new grant programs to help Pennsylvania small businesses that are struggling to survive through COVID-19. The recently enacted state budget includes $2.6 billion in federal stimulus funds through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES). The Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) will distribute the funding to the Pennsylvania CDFI Network, which will then administer the funding in the form two grant programs:

  1. $100 million for the Main Street Business Revitalization Program for small businesses that experienced loss as a result of the Governor’s March 19, 2020 order relating to the closure of all non-life-sustaining businesses and have or will incur costs to adapt to new business operations related to COVID-19;
  2. $100 million for the Historically Disadvantaged Business Revitalization Program for small businesses that experienced loss as a result of the business closure order, have or will incur costs to adapt to new business operations related to COVID-19, and in which socially and economically disadvantaged individuals own at least a 51 percent interest and also control management and daily business operations.

Small businesses with 25 or fewer employees are eligible to apply for grants up to $50,000. Additionally, $25 million in funds have been set aside for the Loan Payment Deferment and Loss Reserve Program, which will allow the CDFIs the opportunity to offer forbearance and payment relief for existing portfolio businesses that are struggling due to the impact of COVID. For additional information on these programs or if you are interested in applying please contact the Public Affairs Group.

Governor Wolf signs a partial Pennsylvania state budget for Fiscal Year 20-21

On Friday, May 29, 2020, Governor Wolf signed a partial state budget for Fiscal Year 20-21 (FY 20-21). The Fiscal Year begins on July 1, 2020. The budget bill, House Bill 2387, was designed to provide flat funding for most line items for five months. PreK-12 education funding and funding for higher education was extended for a full twelve months. A subsequent budget process is anticipated for November 2020, at which time budget decisions will be more completely informed by the impacts to revenue collections and service needs from the COVID-19 crisis.

The General Assembly sent budget-related code bills to the governor in conjunction with the general appropriations bill. A Fiscal Code amendment, providing for specific programmatic allocations, was also signed by the governor on Friday, May 29, 2020. Most allocations in the Fiscal Code maintain FY 19-20 funding for five months into FY 20-21.

Non-preferred appropriations – appropriations for entities not under direct state control but which receive appropriations of state funds – were also signed by the governor on May 29, 2020. Non-preferred appropriations include funding for entities such as state-related institutions of higher education, expenses related to administering workers’ compensation and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

An Administrative Code bill was vetoed by Governor Wolf on May 29, 2020. The bill would have prohibited state professional licensing authorities from taking action against a Pennsylvania business for operating despite the governor’s shutdown order for non-life sustaining businesses. Wolf’s veto message referred to the bill as “a legislative infringement on executive authority and violates  the separation of powers which is critical to the proper functioning of our democracy.” The bill had also required a comprehensive report on the June 2, 2020, primary election, legislative notification of the governor’s suspension of statutes or regulations due to a disaster emergency and a review of outstanding state debt to identify refinancing options.

Wolf also vetoed a republican-backed resolution which would have abrogated an overtime regulation which was adopted in January 2020. The regulation increased the salary threshold under which employees are to be assumed eligible for overtime pay, resulting in an estimated 81,000 additional overtime-eligible employees statewide. Wolf vetoed the resolution abrogating the regulation on procedural grounds, and also stated that the regulation bolsters the  “increased competitiveness of Pennsylvania’s employers to attract skilled labor, positive economic impact due to increased spending by affected workers, and discretionary time returned to employees…Now, more than ever, Pennsylvania needs the benefits that Final-Form Regulation 12-106 provides to its citizens.”

In addition to the state appropriations to stabilize executive branch functions for five months, Wolf approved three bills to distribute federal CARES dollars to state and local entities. Senate Bill 1108 distributes approximately $2.6 billion in federal funds received by the Commonwealth to executive agencies to address costs incurred due to the COVID-19 disaster emergency. Senate Bill 1122 bill created a $52 million grant program for fire and EMS companies to be supported by federal CARES dollars. House Bill 2510 allocates federal CARES dollars to health care collaboratives, counties, long-term living facilities, museum preservation, economic development corporations, dairy farms, food purchases to the needy, and multiple other purposes.

Amidst final actions on budget-related measures, the Pennsylvania legislature gained national attention when on Tuesday, May 26, 2020, democratic members discovered that a republican member had been diagnosed with COVID-19 a week prior without disclosing the diagnosis to the democratic caucus. Democratic members noted that republicans had conducted contact  tracing, and that other republican members were in quarantine following contact with the infected member. The discovery prompted calls from democratic members for the resignation of republican leaders and for an official investigation of possible misconduct. A republican spokesman defended the caucus’ actions by saying they had followed CDC guidelines.

The House and Senate return to session on June 8, 2020.

Available Pennsylvania Grants as of April 27, 2020

Emergency Solutions Grant – CARES ACT

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2020 (CARES Act) provided for a supplemental appropriation of Homeless Assistance Grants under the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) as authorized by McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987 (P.L. 100-77), as amended by the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-22) (42 U.S.C.S.§11371 et. seq.) The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, through the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), has received the first allocation of ESG-CV funds – an appropriation of $19,920,655. DCED’s priority for the use of these ESG funds will be to assist homeless providers and communities prepare for, prevent the spread of and respond to the coronavirus. DCED will use the ESG CARES funding to support applicants who will work to end or prevent homelessness quickly and as efficiently as possible for all vulnerable populations. Eligible applicants include general-purpose unit of local government, including cities, boroughs, and townships, towns, counties, home rule municipalities, and communities that desire to apply “on behalf of” other municipalities. Local governments may apply “on behalf of” nonprofit organizations. Non-profit organizations are eligible to apply only for a regional project as long as it demonstrates a regional need and serving multiple counties. (DCED defines “regional” as more than one county.) The minimum grant is $50,000 and there is no max. There is no match requirement.

Deadline: June 1, 2020. Click here for more information.

Facebook Small Business Grant

Facebook is offering $100 million in cash grants to small businesses located in Allegheny County. To be eligible to apply, your business must have between 2 and 50 employees, have been in business for over one year and have experienced challenges from COVID-19 and be or near a location where Facebook operates (Allegheny County is the only eligible area in Pennsylvania).

Deadline: May 8, 2020. Click here for more information.

Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) Grant

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is authorized to provide financial, technical ,and other assistance to state officials in cooperative efforts to organize, train, and equip local forces in rural areas or communities under 10,000 in population to prevent, control, and suppress fires which threaten: Human life, Livestock, Wildlife, Crops, Pastures, Orchards, Woodlands, Farmsteads, Other improvements in rural areas.

Deadline: May 21, 2020. Click here for more information.

Abandoned Mine Drainage Program

Act 13 of 2012 establishes the Marcellus Legacy Fund and allocates funds to the Commonwealth Financing Authority for abandoned mine drainage, abatement, and treatment. Abandoned Mine Drainage (AMD) is one of the largest sources of stream impairment in Pennsylvania. Billions of gallons of AMD impair over 5,500 miles of streams within the Commonwealth. Grants up to $1,000,000, 15% match. Eligible projects involve the reclamation of Abandoned Mine Well(s), construction of a new AMD site, remediation and repair of existing AMD project sites, operation and maintenance maintaining current AMD remediation sites, establishment of trust fund to ensure ongoing maintenance is achieved, and monitoring of water quality to track or continue to trace non-point source load reductions resulting from AMD remediation projects.

Deadline: May 31, 2020. Click here for more information.

Baseline Water Quality Data Program

Act 13 of 2012 establishes the Marcellus Legacy Fund and allocates funds to the Commonwealth Financing Authority to be used fund state-wide initiatives to establish baseline water quality data on private water supplies. Grants up to $250,000, 15% match. Eligible projects are those that will use accepted scientific principles and practices for water sample collection and analysis to document existing groundwater quality conditions.

Deadline: May 31, 2020. Click here for more information.

Flood Mitigation Program (FMP)

Act 13 of 2012 establishes the Marcellus Legacy Fund and allocates funds to the Commonwealth Financing Authority for funding statewide initiatives to assist with flood mitigation projects. Grants awarded up to $500,000, 15% required match. Projects must be identified by a local government for flood mitigation. Funds can be used for construction, rehab or repair of flood control projects.

Deadline: May 31, 2020. Click here for more information.

Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program (GTRP)

Act 13 of 2012 establishes the Marcellus Legacy Fund and allocates funds to the Commonwealth Financing Authority for planning, acquisition, development, rehabilitation and repair of greenways, recreational trails, open space, parks and beautification projects. Grants up to $250,000, 15% match required.

Deadline: May 31, 2020. Click here for more information.

Household Hazardous Waste Collection Grant

The PA Department of Environmental Protection is offering reimbursement to registered sponsors of collection programs for household hazardous waste, electronics, and tires (but not tire pile cleanups). Reimbursement available for up to 50 percent of eligible costs. Eligible costs typically include collection, transportation and management of the wastes plus education programs.

Click here for more information.

Marine and Rail Freight Movers Grant Program

Driving PA Forward is an initiative created to improve air quality in Pennsylvania and transform older, polluting diesel engines to clean technologies. The primary goal of this program is to improve the Commonwealth’s air quality by reducing NOx emissions produced by nonroad equipment like freight switcher locomotives, ferries, and tugboats.

Deadline: June 5, 2020. Click here for more information.

Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan Updates

If you didn’t get your Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) approved before the funding ran out, get your application ready. Yesterday, April 22, 2020, the House approved the fourth COVID-19 response package, a $383.4 billion measure which will recapitalize several programs that help small businesses and workers financially harmed by the coronavirus pandemic. The oversubscribed Paycheck Protection Package will get an additional $310 billion for forgivable loans to small businesses and nonprofits. It also provides $50 billion for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans, as well as another $10 billion for associated disaster grants.

Some changes were included in this package, such as a small lender set-aside for PPP. One criticism of the initial program was that its “first-come, first-served” nature favored larger small businesses. While small lenders, including credit unions, were authorized by the CARES Act to issue forgivable PPP loans, many found that much of the program’s initial funding had been committed before even able to begin processing applications. To ensure that a larger pool of small businesses can access loans under PPP, $60 billion out of $310 billion has been be reserved for small and moderate sized financial institution. Click here to view the additional guidance released by Treasury regarding PPP. The new package also expands the eligibility of EIDL grants and loans farming and agricultural-related businesses, which are usually ineligible for SBA since they typically receive disaster aid through the USDA.

Again, if you were too late in applying the last time, please get your application together as soon as possible. It is possible that this additional funding could be spent even quicker than the first round, which had previously been committed in just two weeks.

Facebook Small Business Grants

Facebook is offering $100,000 in cash grants to small businesses. To be eligible to apply, your business must:

  • Have between 2 and 50 employees
  • Have been in business for over a year
  • Have experienced challenges from COVID-19
  • Be in or near a location where Facebook operates

Applications are being accepted until May 8, 2020. Please click here for more information or to apply.

Hospital Emergency Loan Program

The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) has announced the availability of funds via The Hospital Emergency Loan Program (HELP). This program was established to provide critical working capital bridge financing to hospitals located within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that are adversely impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Eligible applicants for HELP include all health care facilities licensed as hospitals pursuant to Chapter 8 of the Health Care Facilities Act of 1979.

Please contact us for more information.

Proposed grant funding for COVID-19

The CARES Act includes funding for specific departments and agencies as described below. Details on the disbursement of these funds are not yet available but check back here for more information. We expect these programs to run applications through

  • $20.5 million for the USDA Rural Business Cooperative Service – provides $1 billion in lending authority available for the Business and Industry loan guarantee program, which provides financing to business owners that might not be able to qualify for a loan on their own;
  • $1.5 billion for the Economic Development Administration – funding to support economic development grants for states and communities suffering economic injury as a result of COVID-19;
  • $31.1 billion for the Department of Transportation (DOT) – funding included for the Federal Aviation Administration, Airport Improvement Program, Essential Air Service, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration Transit Infrastructure Grants, and Amtrak;
  • $4.3 billion for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) – funding for public health preparedness and response which includes direct funding to state and local public health responders as well as State and Local Preparedness Grants;
  • $45 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) – funding to continue FEMA’s entire suite of response and recovery activities and reimbursements provided to states and localities nationwide by the Disaster Relief Fund.

Additional information will be circulated once it become available.

Main Street Lending Program

We have been talking a lot over the past few weeks about the Small Business Administration (SBA) programs created in the CARES Act that are available for small businesses. We now have information related to loans for larger companies – the Federal Reserve has announced a $600 billion lending initiative designed for mid-sized businesses through the newly unveiled Main Street Lending Program, which requires the establishment of two new loan facilities: the Main Street New Loan Facility, and the Main Street Expanded Loan Facility.

Unlike the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan and the Paycheck Protection Program, both of which are currently accepting applications and are aimed at smaller businesses, the Main Street Program will be the first federal relief program aimed at larger companies. (Note: If you already applied for a loan with the Paycheck Protection Program, you can also apply for a Main Street loan.).

The Main Street Lending Program is designed to support businesses that were in good financial standing before the crisis. Further details for obtaining, completing and submitting applications for loans under the Main Street Program have not been released; however, we know that applications will be made through participating banks and not the US Government. Here is what else we know:

  • Business and non-profits with up to 10,000 employees or with revenues of less than $2.5 billion are eligible;
  • Applicants must have incurred or will incur “covered losses” as a result of COVID-19, including reduced demand, unbudgeted medical expenses and unavailability of credit;
  • Loans offered will have a 4-year maturity;
  • Principal and interest payments will be deferred for one year;
  • Interest rates will be at market;
  • For Main Street New Loan Facility loans: Maximum loan size that is the lesser of (i) $25 million, or (ii) an amount that, when added to the borrower’s existing outstanding and committed by undrawn debt, does not exceed four times the borrower’s 2019 earnings (before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization);
  • For Main Street Expanded Loan Facility loans: Maximum loan size that is the lesser of (i) $150 million, (ii) 30% of the borrower’s existing outstanding and committed but undrawn bank debt, or (iii) an amount that, when added to the borrower’s existing debt, does not exceed six times the borrower’s 2019 earnings (before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization).

It is important to note than unlike the SBA Loans, certain restrictions apply to recipients under the Main Street Programs. A few highlighted restrictions are as follows:

  • Stock dividends or buybacks will not be permitted for one year after the term of the loan;
  • The borrower must make “reasonable efforts to maintain payroll and retain employees” until September 30, 2020;
  • The borrower will not outsource or offshore jobs for the term of the loan and for two years after the term of the loan;
  • The recipient will not abrogate collective bargaining arrangements in place for the term of the loan and for two years afterwards and will remain neutral in any union organizing effort during the term of the loan.

Neither the Federal Government or banks have yet to issue exact details regarding applicants and how to apply, but we expect more information within the next week.