Small businesses in Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, and Lebanon counties are eligible to apply for low interest loans through the Chester County Economic Development Council (CCEDC) as part of the state’s American Rescue Plan funding.
Last week, Gov. Tom Wolf announced $268 million in American Rescue Plan funding. The CCEDC will receive almost $20 million of that for the Pennsylvania Catalyst Loan Fund it says it is administering for small businesses in Eastern Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Catalyst Loan Fund features fixed interest rates that are below prevailing bank interest rates, CCEDC said. Loans typically range from $50,000 to $500,000, and the loan application process is expected to begin Nov.1.
“What’s really exciting about this loan program is that we are able to help businesses and industries we have not been able to serve before, and on top of that, we can also provide direct technical assistance to help borrowers qualify for financing,” said Chris McHenry, CCEDC vice president of Development Finance. “Previously, we have not been able to assist with loans for working capital and inventory or lend to the retail sector unless they owned their building.”
Gary Smith, CCEDC president and CEO, said, “We are delighted to be awarded these funds through the Pennsylvania Small Business Credit Initiative and are inspired by the collaboration with our colleagues in Southeastern and Central Pennsylvania, benefitting the entire region.”
The funds, he said, will allow CCEDC to work with economic development partners to make critical investments in local small businesses of all kinds as they continue to grow and recover from the pandemic and its economic impacts.
“In particular, expanding credit access to socially and economically disadvantaged groups is a priority of our organization,” Smith said. “We are pleased that this program, which will offer below-market, fixed interest rate small business loans, enables us to make those investments on an even larger scale.”
Pennsylvania Catalyst Loans require a match with a partner lender, with borrowers providing equity up to 20%. Loan terms are up to five years. For questions and initial assistance, businesses should contact their county’s certified economic development organization:
- Berks County: Greater Berks Development Fund – 610-376-6739
- Cumberland County: Capital Region Economic Development Corporation – 717-232-4099
- Dauphin County: Capital Region Economic Development Corporation – 717-232-4099
- Lebanon County: Lebanon Valley Economic Development Corporation – 717-274-3180