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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: May 21, 2020 04:52 PM
From: Senator Vincent J. Hughes
To: All Senate members
Subject: PA CARES – The Historically Disadvantaged Business Revitalization Initiative
In the near future I plan on introducing legislation to direct money received by the Commonwealth to protect historically disadvantaged businesses and communities, while also protecting Pennsylvanian jobs.
Communities across the Commonwealth are struggling in these unprecedented times. In order to protect and save the lives of our families and neighbors, we had to ask citizens and businesses to make tough decisions and sacrifices.  As we continue to battle through containment of COVID-19, we need to provide a lifeline to our small businesses which are the backbone of our communities.
We must offer support to the businesses that support us during the best of times.  They support our little leagues and various youth programs, donate their goods and services for school and other community fundraisers, and small business money stays local.  When we spend money at a privately-owned local store, that money goes to pay a worker in your neighborhood, who, in turn, is likely to spend money at another neighborhood business. Many of these mom and pop, main street businesses have only a handful of employees and have been unprepared to tap into the network of assistance available.  Main street, mom and pop businesses need someone with a demonstrated capacity to focus on their critical needs.
For the last few weeks, I have engaged the statewide network of community development financial institutions (CDFIs) to hone a proposal to help small businesses and protect jobs in the Commonwealth.  During periods of economic turmoil, CDFIs are known to be “first responders” because of their keen knowledge of and connection to the communities they serve. 
Many historically disadvantaged businesses are familiar with CDFIs and the assistance they provide.  By running programs through CDFIs, these businesses will have access to job protection and initiatives through financial institutions they are comfortable with.

Under my proposal, $125 million of funds received by the Commonwealth through the CARES Act would be directed to the Pennsylvania CDFIs, which cover all 67 counties in the Commonwealth, to implement a Historically Disadvantaged Business Revitalization Initiative to support some of the Commonwealth’s small businesses.  Funding provided to CDFIs would emphasize financial resources for food, hospitality, health and wellness, beauty salon, barbershop, retail and childcare sectors.  Funds to businesses through the CDFIs could be used for business stabilization, debt payment relief and technical assistance for main street businesses and would help ensure historically disadvantaged businesses can make it through the COVID-19 pandemic. 
The statewide CDFIs believe they can get the money into the hands of business owners before the end of the calendar year.  This proposal can save the most vulnerable businesses that are the backbones of many communities and that have been shut out of other programs.
This legislation is a companion piece to Senator Blake’s Main Street Business Revitalization Initiative.
Please join me in sponsoring this legislation.