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More than a million additional dollars are available for business loans in Indiana County, thanks to the federal government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or CARES Act, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, announced Friday.

Casey said Pennsylvania will receive a $35.5 million share of $1.5 billion from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. It will be distributed through EDA’s Revolving Loan Fund Program, which provides access to capital to enable small businesses to grow and generate new employment opportunities.

In turn, a revolving loan fund in Indiana County will get $1.23 million.

“We’ve done (more than) 70 loans to small businesses in and around the county,” said Byron G. Stauffer Jr., executive director of the Indiana County Office of Planning and Development, whose revolving loan fund dates to 1994.

Also, the county may benefit from $1.1 million going to the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, covering nine Pittsburgh area counties.

SPC operates two revolving loan funds, one backed by EDA, the other by the Appalachian Regional Commission. As described on SPC’s website, “these funds are designed to provide SPC’s small business clients with low interest financing for land and building acquisition and construction, machinery and equipment purchases, and working capital to businesses unable to fully finance projects with equity, bank financing or other private and public sources.”

The door was opened to new revolving loan funding on May 7 when Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said EDA had amended its FY 2020 Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance Notice of Funding Opportunity. He said EDA intended to deploy its CARES Act funding as quickly, effectively and efficiently as possible.

On May 27, the Indiana County Board of Commissioners authorized Stauffer’s office to formally apply for an award of up to $1.23 million, while also agreeing to broaden the qualifications for businesses to take advantage of the new money and the county’s existing loan fund.

“We’re amending the fund to provide for exceptions for the one-year period due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Stauffer said. “Under these revised guidelines, we’re going to try to lower the interest rates, modify our leveraging requirements, modify the collateral requirements.”

More information is available under the “business assistance” link at the Office of Planning and Development’s website.

Casey said the additional CARES Act funding would help retain jobs that might otherwise be lost, create wealth and support minority and women-owned businesses.

He pledged to continue fighting for the state’s small businesses, “ensuring that minority-owned businesses receive funding and improving oversight so that these grants reach the truly small businesses that need it most.”