Mark Masterson reminds small businesses in Washington and Greene counties, and elsewhere in Southwestern Pennsylvania, time is running out on a funding opportunity.
Friday is the deadline to apply for the second round of loans in the Pennsylvania Coronavirus Small Business Assistance program – and there will be a lot of competition.
“Is looks like this will be the last round,” said the executive director of the Northside Community Development Fund, a nonprofit loan agency that helps small businesses and organization complete applications for the grants.
Masterson estimated about $200 million is available through the program, which is funded through the federal CARES Act that was established in March, when COVID-19 began hitting the nation hard.
Masterson’s organization is based on the North Side of Pittsburgh, where it helped entrepreneurs and housing projects to secure loans pre-pandemic. Northside Community then branched out across this corner of the state to assist applicants, an area that includes all of Allegheny, Washington, Greene, Beaver and Lawrence counties.
The agency is a certified Community Development Financial Institution, a group of organizations in 17 states that provide financial services in low-income communities and individuals without access to financing.
Masterson said about 50,000 small businesses in Pennsylvania applied for grants totaling $860 million in round one of this program. He estimated 250 to 300 Washington County entities and about 40 from Greene applied through the Northside Community portal.
“We anticipated 10,000 to 20,000 applicants then,” he said. “We underestimated the amount of hurt out there.”
Despite that, an issue a generous number of businesses are not aware that these grants are available.
Masterson said his agency is working with the state Department of Community and Economic Development and state senators and representatives.
“People want to see businesses in their communities make it,” he said. “Hopefully, this grant keeps businesses going – this month, next month … until this thing is finally over.”