2023 Small Business Advantage Grant

The 2023 Small Business Advantage Grant is now accepting applications for at least $1 million in available funds. This grant program is offered through the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.  The purpose of this grant is to provide small businesses in Pennsylvania with grant funds for projects that increase energy efficiency, reduce pollution, or protect our waterways. Many different types of small businesses, from manufacturing to retail to agriculture, may be eligible for funding under this program. Funding is awarded first-come, first served so interested applicants should act fast!

You are receiving this email because your agency, office or team may have clients, customers, or other constituencies that may be interested in applying for this funding. All program documents, including Program Guidelines and a Grant Calculator, are available on the Small Business Advantage Grant Website. There is also a link on the website to the online application system used to apply for the grant. Additionally, there are tutorial videos available for everything from an overview of the program to using the Grant Calculator for specific project types.

Maximum grant awards will vary based on the attributes of a project as shown in the chart below. Projects will be eligible for more funding if they are located in Environmental Justice areas or reduce CO2e by at least 20 tons (as calculated by the Grant Calculator). 

2024-2024 Funding Levels
Project AttributesWhichever is less, up to:
All Eligible Projects50%or$5,000
Eligible and located in Environmental Justice Area65%or$6,500
Eligible and significant environmental savings65%or$6,500
Eligible, located in Environmental Justice Area, and significant environmental savings80%or$8,000

Please share this information with your clients, customers, or other audiences. If you or they have any questions, feel free to contact me or my staff with any questions (Forest Edwards, foedwards@pa.gov 717-783-9640 or Caroline Zepp, czepp@pa.gov 717-772-5160). You can also send an email to RA-epAdvantageGrant@pa.gov.

MetroAction Launches COVID Recovery Loan Program

MetroAction, Inc. – the non-profit, small business financing affiliate of the Chamber – announced its launch of the Lackawanna County COVID Recovery Loan Program, created to provide capital to businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program provides low-interest loans to Lackawanna County businesses for working capital purposes. Eligible uses include, but are not limited to, lease or mortgage payments, utility payments, payroll, and other operational expenses. In addition, businesses can use the loan capital to purchase machinery, equipment, or technology that will allow the business to expand its operations.

The program will provide loans up to $25,000 at 1% to Lackawanna County businesses adversely impacted by the COVID pandemic. The term for the loans will be 36 months with a 3 month payment deferral. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose great challenges for our small business community. This fund was established to support Lackawanna County businesses with day-to-day operations as well as growth opportunities,” stated Jack Reager, MetroAction President. 

Funding is limited for this loan program.  Applications will be funded on a first approved, first funded basis. 

Funding for this program was provided by Lackawanna Industrial Fund Enterprises (LIFE), Lackawanna County, the Hawk Family Foundation, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  

Businesses can apply and find additional program information on www.metroaction.org.

United Way Honors High Achievers of Toughest Campaign to Date

The United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties have awarded over 140 area businesses, employee groups, foundations and individuals for outstanding community service during the Annual Community Awards Celebration of Caring.

Acknowledging the work of the countless volunteers whose dedication helped push the United Way campaign to more than $3 million last year. “This was our most challenging campaign to date with the economy, let alone the world, coming to a complete halt with the fear of the pandemic looming throughout our 2020 campaign efforts.  With these difficult times, commitment to serving the people of our community and fighting for the education, financial mobility and health of our community is evident in the numerous awards being presented to these essential members of our community,” commented Gary Drapek, President and CEO of the United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties.

With the campaign in full swing for 2021-2022, the United Way wanted to take this time to recognize the charitable efforts from generous community members that helped them achieve what seemed like an insurmountable goal.

The 9th Annual Rising Star Awards were presented to the fifteen small, mid-sized and large businesses with the most new or increased dollars.  The top five companies with one-49 employees were: Cable Associates, Inc.; Foley Law Firm; Genetti Manor; Scranton Primary Health Care Center; and Sordoni Construction Services.  The top five Rising Star companies with 50-99 employees were: Benco Dental Supply Company; DK Trading Diamond K; Mericle Commercial Real Estate Services; One Point; and United Neighborhood Centers of NEPA.  The top five Rising Star companies with 100 or more employees were AAA North Penn; The Dime Bank; Fidelity Bank; PNC Bank; and the P&G Paper Products Company – Mehoopany Plant.

The United Way also recognized the top 10 companies that contribute the most between a combination of the company themselves and their employees, known as the Pillars of Giving.  In no specific order, they were: Fidelity Bank; Gentex Corporation; Hendrick Manufacturing; the P&G Paper Products Company – Mehoopany Plant; Peoples Security Bank & Trust; PNC Bank; The Scranton Times-Tribune; UGI Utilities/UGI Energy Service and United Parcel Services/UPS Global.

The William E. Cockerill, Sr. Memorial Labor Award was presented to the Honorable James Connors along with his wife Susan Connors for their dedicated support of the United Way. The Joseph A. Mahon, Esq. Volunteer Award went to long-time United Way volunteers, Amy and Jim Fleming.

Commissioners Announce Lackawanna County COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Grant Program

Lackawanna County Commissioners approved $2,374,844 million in funding to provide grants to eligible hospitality and accommodation businesses through the Lackawanna County COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Grant Program. 

The program will provide grants up to $25,000 to eligible businesses in Lackawanna County.

“The hospitality industry has been hit very hard by the pandemic. The majority of our well-established area restaurants and small eateries were reduced to take-out or capacity restrictions, while our hotels saw a huge drop-off in guest room bookings.  We are very pleased to provide some assistance again in conjunction with our partner, The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce.  Together, we will utilize our resources to assist these sectors to get on the road to economic recovery,” the Board of Commissioners stated.  

In February, The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania earmarked $145 million to establish the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Grant Program. The funding was distributed through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development to Lackawanna County.

The County will partner with MetroAction, the small business affiliate of The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce, to administer the program and provide technical assistance to grant applicants and awardees. 

Information on the grant program is available at www.metroaction.org. Businesses are encouraged to read program guidelines and gather required program documents. Businesses will be able to submit a grant application for a two-week time frame or until program funding is exhausted.

The grant application will open on March 8.

Scranton Small Business Relief Fund Established to Host Inaugural Scranton Ice Festival

A small group of community-minded volunteers in partnership with First Friday Scranton, Scranton Tomorrow, The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce, and the Scranton Area Community Foundation, have joined together to host the inaugural Scranton Ice Festival, which will be held on Friday, February 5, through Sunday, February 7, 2021 in Downtown Scranton. 

The Scranton Ice Festival will feature a number of ice sculptures in front of businesses  in downtown Scranton including various businesses located on Adams Avenue, North Washington Avenue, Penn Avenue, Linden Street, and Wyoming Avenue. Family-friendly activities are also planned. Some of these activities include ice sculpting demonstrations, musical acts, and more. The event coincides with First Friday. The Scranton Ice Festival aims to bring people to downtown Scranton to support small businesses after a challenging year caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This free and largely outdoor festival will be an opportunity for the community to safely patronize local businesses and generate charitable support for the Scranton Small Business Relief Fund at the Scranton Area Community Foundation, which will help small business owners and employees experiencing hardship during the coronavirus pandemic. Any and all remaining proceeds from this nonprofit event and its sponsorships will go towards this charitable fund. Contributions will be tax deductible.

Small businesses and those interested in getting involved in the Scranton Ice Festival can email scrantonicefest@gmail.com.

“The Scranton Small Business Relief Fund at the Scranton Area Community Foundation was established by community members, who really want to make a difference in the lives of small business owners and employees experiencing hardship during the coronavirus pandemic,” Scranton Area Community Foundation President and CEO Laura Ducceschi stated. “The Scranton Ice Festival aims to be a novel charitable event to bring the community together safely during these challenging times while bringing awareness to the small businesses in the area,” she added.

“We want to encourage everyone to use this upcoming First Friday event to show the small business people of downtown Scranton—your friends and neighbors—that you support them during these challenging times,” stated Robert Durkin, President of The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce.

For questions about the Scranton Ice Festival, please email scrantonicefest@gmail.com.

PPP Reopens This Week

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Treasury Department, announced that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will reopen the week of January 11 for new borrowers and certain existing PPP borrowers. To promote access to capital, initially only community financial institutions will be able to make First Draw PPP Loans on Monday, January 11, and Second Draw PPP Loans on Wednesday, January 13. The PPP will open to all participating lenders shortly thereafter. Updated PPP guidance outlining Program changes to enhance its effectiveness and accessibility was released on January 6 in accordance with the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Non-Profits, and Venues Act.

This round of the PPP continues to prioritize millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $284 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses through March 31, 2021, and by allowing certain existing PPP borrowers to apply for a Second Draw PPP Loan.

“The historically successful Paycheck Protection Program served as an economic lifeline to millions of small businesses and their employees when they needed it most,” said Administrator Jovita Carranza.  “Today’s guidance builds on the success of the program and adapts to the changing needs of small business owners by providing targeted relief and a simpler forgiveness process to ensure their path to recovery.”

“The Paycheck Protection Program has successfully provided 5.2 million loans worth $525 billion to America’s small businesses, supporting more than 51 million jobs,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.  “This updated guidance enhances the PPP’s targeted relief to small businesses most impacted by COVID-19.  We are committed to implementing this round of PPP quickly to continue supporting American small businesses and their workers.”

Key PPP updates include:

  • PPP borrowers can set their PPP loan’s covered period to be any length between 8 and 24 weeks to best meet their business needs;
  • PPP loans will cover additional expenses, including operations expenditures, property damage costs, supplier costs, and worker protection expenditures;
  • The Program’s eligibility is expanded to include 501(c)(6)s, housing cooperatives, destination marketing organizations, among other types of organizations;
  • The PPP provides greater flexibility for seasonal employees;
  • Certain existing PPP borrowers can request to modify their First Draw PPP Loan amount; and
  • Certain existing PPP borrowers are now eligible to apply for a Second Draw PPP Loan. 

A borrower is generally eligible for a Second Draw PPP Loan if the borrower:

  • Previously received a First Draw PPP Loan and will or has used the full amount only for authorized uses;
  • Has no more than 300 employees; and
  • Can demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020.

The new guidance released includes:

For more information on SBA’s assistance to small businesses, visit sba.gov/ppp or treasury.gov/cares