M&T Bank commits more than $1.2M to community projects

M&T Bank will provide more than $1.2 million to 42 initiatives serving distressed communities/low-income neighborhoods in the commonwealth – several of which are in central Pennsylvania or the Lehigh Valley – through the state’s Neighborhood Assistance Program.

The bank’s commitment is among the $36 million Gov. Tom Wolf recently approved for the program, which provides tax credits to businesses like M&T that donate capital to support the projects approved to use NAP funding for affordable housing, community services, crime prevention, education, job training, food access, blight, special population issues, veterans’ initiatives or long-term community revitalization.

The projects M&T will help support through NAP include:

· $25,000 to HDC Mid-Atlantic for the ongoing development of its College Avenue affordable housing project in Lancaster;

· $25,000 to Kutztown Small Business Development Center to assist entrepreneurs and small-business owners gain access to resources and information needed to launch or grow their businesses;

· $10,000 for Midwest Food Bank in Middletown to provide food rescue and distribution to more than 137,000 hungry individuals in central Pennsylvania;

· $50,000 for WEPA Empowerment Center to establish a bilingual community-based workforce development center in Lebanon city.

“M&T supports the Neighborhood Assistance Program as an innovative way to spur community development and revitalization throughout Pennsylvania,” Gail D’Angelo, M&T’s community reinvestment manager for Pennsylvania, said in a release. “We look forward to working with our partner organizations that were approved for NAP this year and witnessing the tremendous impact they will make in their respective communities.”

Buffalo-based M&T Bank has participated in the NAP program for years, with increased commitments in each of the past three years. In fiscal 2022, which ended June 30, the bank provided $836,000 to 35 projects throughout the state.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Dauphin, Perry projects awarded RACP funding 

Six major projects in Dauphin and Perry counties are receiving funds in the latest round of Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grants. 

State Sen. John DiSanto, R-Dauphin and Perry counties, announced the following grants: 

  • Dauphin County Library System ($1 million). The library system’s Walnut Street Harrisburg Expansion project will construct an interior connection between McCormick Riverfront Library and the newly acquired Haldeman Haly House, and renovate Haly House.
  • West Hanover Township Municipal Complex ($500,000). The project will construct a 15,000-square-foot municipal facility that will house several township departments.
  • Rotunda Brew Pub ($1 million). The property is at the end of heavily trafficked Chocolate Avenue in Derry Township and sits a quarter mile from the recently constructed Town Square. This redevelopment will transition the business model from on-site production with limited space for on-premise consumption to a modernized, state-of-the-art brewpub.
  • Swatara Township Municipal Complex Facility ($1 million). The new Fire and Police Public Safety Building will be 50,000 square feet and include secure rooms for meetings with crime victims; joint training facilities for fire and police; and an emergency management operations center.
  • Perry County Economic Development Corp. ($1 million). IBS is preparing to construct a state-of-the-art commercial egg hatchery in Perry County Industrial Park.

State Rep. Patti Kim, D-Dauphin County, also announced a $4 million grant to support a project to undertake a complete renovation of the first floor of the former Bishop McDevitt High School into The JEDI Innovation Center. JEDI stands for justice, equality, diversity and inclusion. The center will contain flexible spaces and facilities for educational programs and events including a community concert/lecture hall, library, co-working space, rooftop garden, community kitchen, fresh foods cafe and full-service medical clinic. 

York County projects get $14 million in RACP money 

State Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York, announced Tuesday that six York County projects will receive $14 million in Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grants. 

Overseen by the state’s Office of the Budget, the program helps with cultural, economic, civic and historical projects that create jobs and economic growth. 

The projects and their grant amounts: 

  • York County Economic Alliance – $5 million for the current phase of the Codorus Greenway in York city. Construction will include repair and reconstruction of flood walls to expand levee system capacity and create riparian buffer areas next to the creek and allow for an American with Disabilities Act-compliant access point; remediation of contaminated soil; and in-channel improvements that enhance water quality and mitigate flooding.
  • York County Industrial Development Authority – $2 million for its Ballpark Commons Northern Gateway project. The money will be used to demolish blighted and underutilized properties, construct a new building and improve PeoplesBank Park. The project previously received $2 million in RACP grants in December.
  • York County History Center’s York County History Campus Library and Archives – $2.5 million to create climate-controlled, high-density storage housing 400,000 two-dimensional artifacts. The funds will also be used to complete the third-floor coal bin exhibit gallery and transform the garage into a workshop that supports the campus’ facilities and maintenance functions.
  • York County Food Bank – $1.5 million for its “Building Hope and Fighting Hunger” program. The funds will expand the food bank warehouse to a new facility on King Street – enabling the acquisition, storage and distribution of a greater quantity and better variety of fresh, nutrient-rich foods – and renovate the hunger-free client-choice pantry on West Princess Street.
  • The Children’s Aid Society SOPA COB Inc. – $2 million for its Children’s Aid Society Childcare Center. The funds will go toward the construction and related costs of a two-story, 7,500-square-foot footprint, 15,000-square-foot building with associated parking areas and a 7,500-square-foot fenced-in outdoor play yard.
  • LogosWorks – $1 million to construct a large addition to its building to provide kitchen space, dining hall, art gallery, health and wellness center, full-court gymnasium with locker rooms, and storage.

$1.9 trillion COVID relief bill is light on help for small business, state officials say

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 signed by President Biden includes a number of federal programs that will funnel millions into Pennsylvania businesses but despite its expensive price, it doesn’t allot enough money to keep the state’s businesses impacted by COVID-19 open.

That’s the conclusion of business leaders who were expecting more from the bill.

The act authorizes $7.25 billion of additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) but does not extend the program past its March 31 end date. Any businesses that have yet to apply for either their first or second draw from the program will need to have their application approved by the end of the month and should stay in close contact with their banks, said Gene Barr, president and CEO at the PA Chamber of Business and Industry.

“Make sure you apply and watch the guidance to get the help you need,” said Barr. “I would just encourage people to stay on top of this and understand how you have to apply.”

The act provides billions to a number of grant programs, including $15 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loans program that benefits businesses in underserved areas; $15 billion for museums, theaters, concerts and other venues shuttered through COVID restrictions; and $29 billion in grants for restaurants through the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

It allocates $10 billion for state governments to help leverage private capital and make low-interest loans to small businesses through the State Small Business Credit Initiative.

The rescue package also allots funds to state, county and city governments, of which Pennsylvania is expected to receive $7.3 billion; and local governments another $5.7 billion, according to a report by the Associated Press.

The $29 billion for restaurants is a push in the right direction but it won’t be enough for Pennsylvania’s over 26,000 restaurants, said John Longstreet, president and CEO at the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association.

The association is asking the state to allot a portion of its federal funding through the act to the state’s restaurant and hospitality industry. Such a move would go farther than the portion expected to arrive from the federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund, he said.

“We have been working with the Pennsylvania legislature to dedicate $1 billion of this state grant money to the hospitality industry,” he said. “Though the Restaurant Revitalization Fund hits the hardest hit segment, it doesn’t help the hotels and other attractions that are part of the tourism industry.”

Neither the act itself nor the Biden Administration have offer details on how direct COVID relief will be split nationally. Clarifying those questions will be a primary focus of the state’s business chambers as they look to communicate to their members how to best access the programs mentioned, said David Black, president and CEO of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC.

One of the most frequent criticisms of the act has been how much of the funds are going directly to COVID-19 relief, which is estimated at around $825 billion.

“There’s $35 billion to support ACA premiums, without addressing any systemic failure in the ACA,” said Black. “There’s projects like a bridge connecting New York state and Canada, $500 million for arts, humanities, libraries and museums.  As an advocate for responsible government, this is very concerning to me.”

Barr noted that a “free” addition to the act that he would have liked to have seen would have been some sort of liability reform. COVID-19 related legal safeguards for schools, health care and other businesses has been a hot point of debate in Pennsylvania after Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed legislation late last year that would have provided limited protection against COVID-related suits.

COVID-19 fund awards $146,000 in grants to York County nonprofits

Seven York County nonprofits were awarded part of $146,000 in grants through the York County COVID-19 Response Fund.

The fund, created by the York County Community Foundation (YCCF) and United Way of York County, was launched in March and has raised over $1 million and awarded $443,000 in grants to area nonprofits.

Awards are given to nonprofits to help York County residents impacted by the pandemic by providing food and rental assistance.

In the most recent wave of grants, YCCF and United Way of York County awarded:

  • Central Pennsylvania Food Bank
  • York County Food Bank
  • York Benevolent Association
  • Salvation Army of York, PA
  • New Hope Ministries
  • CASA
  • Community Progress Council (CPC)

The Salvation Army, New Hope Ministries, CASA and CPC will continue to provide crisis budgeting and rental assistance to families in need with help from the funds.

CPC, a York nonprofit that works with low- to moderate-income individuals to help them become self-sufficient. will use the money to help it distribute up to $4.4 million in CARES Rent Relief Program funding.

The organization was chosen by York County and the Pennsylvania Housing and Finance Agency to process applications for rent relief through the end of September.

As part of the program, qualified tenants can receive up to $750 per month in rental assistance for up to six months. To qualify, residents must have experienced a 30% or more decrease in income since March 1, 2020.