House passes Conklin bill to boost funding for minority-owned businesses

Would create fund to provide low-interest loans, equity financing for eligible enterprises

HARRISBURG, May 2 – The House yesterday passed legislation introduced by state Rep. Scott Conklin that would help Pennsylvania’s minority-owned businesses secure the capital they need to grow and remain competitive.

Conklin, who is majority chairman of the Pennsylvania House Commerce Committee, said he introduced H.B. 2202 – which would establish the Minority Business Development Program to provide low-interest loans and equity financing to ethnic-owned businesses – to get vital resources flowing to traditionally underserved business communities.

“Minority-owned businesses have a critical role to play in Pennsylvania, but for too long, they have faced financing hurdles that have prevented them from growing and expanding,” Conklin said. “It’s time to level the playing field by connecting these businesses with the resources they need to thrive. Doing so creates jobs, adds healthy competition, grows our local and state economies, and empowers business owners to give back to their communities. It’s a win-win all around.”

The fund established by Conklin’s bill would provide eligible businesses with means ranging from $3 million for one or more projects to a maximum of $5 million for up to three projects. Minority-owned businesses in counties of the First or Second Class would be eligible for a maximum of $10 million per applicant. The funds would be used as equity and patient capital, gap financing, and for soft loans and predevelopment.

The PA Department of Community and Economic Development would assess the program’s effectiveness every five years and report findings to the General Assembly.

The bill now heads to the state Senate for consideration.