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Good morning. Spring has arrived along with a spike in coronavirus cases in Pennsylvania and sweeping new steps to reverse the climb. Gov. Tom Wolf yesterday asked all "non-life-sustaining businesses" to close their physical locations as of 8 p.m. yesterday. Failure to comply could end up costing businesses disaster-related aid, the governor warned. Enforcement starts Saturday.

The order came after the state reported 185 Covid-19 cases on Thursday, up from 133 on Wednesday. The
total includes two new cases in Lancaster County, one in Lebanon County and one in Adams County.

It's hard to find the bright side. But -- if you haven't already been sharing this tidbit of good news -- China reported
no new cases yesterday. That is as welcome a sign of spring as the daffodils and crocuses peeking out of the ground.
 
Forward BizNewsPA Forward BizNewsPA

 

SBA LOAN SPIGOT OPENS IN PA


Small businesses in Pennsylvania have at least one lifeline as normal operations become all-but-impossible to maintain.

What is it? The
U.S. Small Business Administration has agreed to start making low-interest loans to small businesses that are struggling during the Covid-19 crisis, according to a release from Gov. Tom Wolf. Which, at this stage, is nearly every business.
  • The SBA loans will be capped at $2 million.
  • Terms could extend up to 30 years, with an interest rate of 3.75% for businesses and 2.75% for nonprofits.
  • Applications are due by Dec. 21.

What's next? The SBA's action is among the first of many measures to ease the chokehold on the U.S. economy. A recession seems all but inevitable.
  • State officials have been working to provide about $61 million in zero-interest loans through the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority.
  • Massive stimulus bills continue to work their way through the U.S. Congress.

And the legislation keeps coming. State lawmakers have been throwing out ideas in a rush to see what sticks.  

QUICK TAKES


WHO'S RETIRING: Gary Manley, the chief accounting officer at Shippensburg-based Orrstown Financial Services Inc. The bank said Manley plans to retire by June 30.
  • Manley is being succeeded by Neil Kalani, who was senior accounting officer at Orrstown's chief subsidiary, Orrstown Bank.
  • Kalani, 45, is a recent hire for Orrstown, the bank said. He worked previously at New Jersey-based Sun Bancorp Inc., Harleysville National Corp. and Willow Financial Bancorp Inc.
 

WHO WAS FUNDED: Three tech firms in the Harrisburg area.

At a board meeting this month,
Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern Pennsylvania approved investments in:
  • CPNet, which uses artificial intelligence to boost the productivity of existing manufacturing equipment. The company, based in Harrisburg, received an investment of $125,000.
  • EduPlanet21, an educational technology company based in Lower Allen Township, Cumberland County. An investment total was not immediately available from a Ben Franklin spokesperson.
  • ReturnLogic, which helps online retailers manage the return process. It was approved for an investment of $140,000. The company is based in Hampden Township, Cumberland County, and has an office at the J.D. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship at York College.
 

WHAT'S UP -- FOR NOW: Revenue from gambling in Pennsylvania.

Casinos, sports betting and other kinds of gambling generated
$304.3 million in revenue in February this year, up 13.75% over February 2019, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Total tax revenue for the month was $124.9 million, according to the board.

Will it last? Casinos in Pennsylvania have been shut down since Tuesday as part of efforts to slow spread of the coronavirus. They are expected to take a hit.
  • Other forms of gambling may continue, including online casino-style gambling and video-gambling at truck stops and convenience stores, according to board spokesperson Doug Harbach. Some limited sports betting also may take place.
  • However, casinos make up more than 90% of gambling revenue in Pennsylvania.
 
SPONSORED BY BUSINESS FOR AMERICA
 
WHO'S GETTING READY FOR AN ELECTIONBusiness for America, a nonprofit that sees a private-sector role in increasing voter turnout in elections. It is hoping to sign up 100 Pennsylvania companies for a nonpartisan initiative called Time to Vote.
  • The Time to Vote initiative is spearheaded by PatagoniaLevi Strauss and Walmart.
  • To spread the word, Business for America is hosting a webinar scheduled for 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. on March 24. Register here.
  • The webinar will include coronavirus-related updates on Pennsylvania's upcoming primary, currently scheduled for April 28.
  • Speakers include A.J. Bruno, founder and CEO of QuotaPath; Todd Carmichael, co-founder and CEO of La Colombe Coffee Roasters; Robert Cheetham, president and CEO of Azavea Software; and Rebecca Goodstein, east coast district coordinator for Patagonia.

CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES


It's hard to keep up with the resources being made available to businesses as they come to terms with the flux of coronavirus-related closures.

Where can we start? The region's chambers of commerce are among those maintaining comprehensive lists.
What else? Another resource that has sprung up over the last few days is a Facebook group called Central PA Mutual Aid - Neighbors Helping Neighbors.

SCORE, the small-business advisory group, is hosting a free one-hour webinar, using the video service Zoom. The webinar -- scheduled for March 26 at 6 p.m. -- is for small-business owners trying to navigate the Covid-19 crisis. 
  • Speakers will include representatives from the York County Economic Alliance, Centric Bank, Stock & Leader law firm, Kocman Insurance Group, Alternative HR, The Tangible Effect bookkeeping service, the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Shippensburg University Small Business Development Center.
  • If you want to attend, register at Zoom and send an email (Subject: Reservation) to susquehanna@scorevolunteer.org.

And to send you off for the weekend: We offer a cartoon by Sarah Colantonio, a partner at Lancaster-based consulting firm Work Wisdom LLC
 

 
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Compiled and written by Joel Berg

 
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