Shusterman and Briggs draft legislation to revive Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 loan program for small businesses

HARRISBURG, April 22 — State Reps. Melissa Shusterman, D-Chester/Montgomery, and Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery, are introducing legislation that would restore the state’s COVID-19 Working Capital Access (CWCA) loan program and provide no-interest loans to Pennsylvania’s smallest businesses and life science organizations.

The lawmakers drafted the bills due to the rapid exhaustion of Pennsylvania’s CWCA loan program. Both bills propose replenishing the program by transferring $100 million from the state’s Rainy Day Fund. A total of $61 million was originally available when the program launched in late March, but applications quickly outpaced the funds available and the program was closed in less than a week.

Briggs also noted that many life science businesses were ineligible for CWCA loans due to the way life science entities are structured.

In addition to reopening the program, Shusterman’s legislation contains measures that would create two new programs specifically for businesses with five employees or less. Shusterman said that microloans of up to $15,000 at a 0% interest would be available to mom and pop shops with no payments required for the first year. Additionally, a grant program to provide these small businesses with grants of up to $15,000 to cover working capital expenses would be created.

“I’ve heard from countless small businesses struggling to stay afloat during the COVID-19 health crisis. To ensure that they can reopen once we overcome this pandemic, we have to act now” Shusterman said. “The financial aid that was available to them ran out in four days leaving many businesses owners with minimal to no resources to help them get by. Not only are their livelihoods in danger, their family's finances are, as well.”

Briggs has proposed legislation to make life sciences organizations eligible for CWCA.

“Life science and other innovation businesses in the state employ thousands in areas like biotechnology, medical device development and pharmaceutical development. Many of them are small businesses, and our current health crisis makes it patently clear how vital they are to our communities,” Briggs said. “Giving those organizations access to this loan program could help them continue to pursue life-saving work. I’ll continue to advocate for the House to pass legislation to expand and replenish this program as quickly as possible.”

Both lawmakers said they will also look for opportunities to pursue their proposals through amendments to legislation scheduled for consideration on the House floor next week.

More information on these bills is available by calling Shusterman’s office at 484-200-8260 and Briggs’ office at 610-768-3135.