Forgivable loans still available to businesses

Clarion County business owners still have an opportunity to capitalize on a forgivable loan program from the Pennsylvania 30 Day Fund.

The nonprofit has a simple mission: save small businesses in Pennsylvania’s communities that have been impacted by the COVID-19 and civil unrest crises.

Earlier this month, a partnership was announced between the fund and the Clarion County Economic Development Corp., and that a $60,000 donation from the Clarion County Industrial Development Authority was received to help make $3,000 forgivable loans available to small businesses.

The money can help businesses cover payroll, health care, and rental expenses; replenish inventory; and pay operating expenses.

“When this program started, there was a lot of in between on what kind of assistance would be coming; so this program was designed to get businesses through for 30 days,” said Jarred Heuer, economic development specialist with the Economic Development Corp.

“It has been operating since and it has continued to grow, and they are looking to continue to help Pennsylvania’s small businesses in all 67 counties.”

Heuer said the Industrial Development Authority saw in the spring that businesses were struggling, and there “were a lot of unknowns” with which to deal.

“They wanted to mobilize some funds to help Clarion County’s small businesses. They didn’t know how,” he said. “It seemed like an overwhelming undertaking to start a grant program from scratch with a board of only five members.”

It was around July when Chelsea Alexander, owner of Mechanistic Brewing Co., reached out to the Economic Development Corp. and shared her knowledge of the Pennsylvania 30 Day Fund.

“She had pursued this on her own and she was awarded a forgivable loan of $3,000. She wanted other people to know this was out there,” Heuer said.

The 30-Day Fund eventually turned into a vehicle for Industrial Development Authority dollars to be mobilized and earmarked for businesses.

“It took a few months to get all of those pieces together. That happened a few weeks ago,” Heuer said. “There is still money left in the fund.

“We want to keep it going. Funds are still available. We have already made awards to several businesses throughout the county, and we want to get the rest out there.”

Applications can be made directly to the Pennsylvania 30 Day Fund.

“The application is very simple. There is no red tape, “Heuer said. “It is a one-page application and create a three-minute video. That puts a face to the application. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy.”

He called it “a competitive fund” that doesn’t have enough funds for all who apply.

“If it comes from Clarion County, they will use those Clarion County dollars,” Heuer said. “This is a great example of lots of people working together to get something done.”