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The latest news you need to know

Erie County CARES Announces Small Business Grant Open to businesses with 1-100 employees

Beginning Monday, August 31st, eligible Erie County Businesses may start applying for the Erie County CARES Small Business Grant. Through this initiative, the Erie County Redevelopment Authority (ECRDA) will administer up to $5 million in funds on behalf of the County of Erie to eligible businesses that have been impacted by Covid-19.

Funds will be provided to small businesses (1-100 employees) and tourism organizations (for-profit only) and may be used to support the following:

  • Operating expenses incurred during the COVID-19 public health emergency
  • Technical assistance, including training and guidance, for business owners and hospitality and tourism leaders to stabilize business
  • Debt payment relief relative to COVID-19 expenses

Priority will be given to small businesses (1-100 employees) that:

  • Were most impacted by the economic shutdown and experienced the greatest revenue losses
  • Are located in areas with incomes significantly below the median income level, have high levels of poverty or higher than average unemployment rates, or have experienced significant population loss

Every effort will be made to prioritize historically disadvantaged businesses. These organizations often have traditionally experienced discrimination when seeking financial services and financial products.

GRANT TIMELINE:
Opens: Monday, August 31st
Deadline: Friday, September 11th / 11:59 pm

Award details:

  • Final grant awards will be announced by late September, 2020 (awards may be announced on a rolling basis)
  • Deadline for grant fund spending is Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Guidelines for funding can be found at ECRDA.net/grants. All applications must be completed online, and the required supplemental information must be attached electronically to the application.  

Grants for PPE, non-profits and municipalities are also available and can be found at eriecountypa.gov/covid-19.

Erie County Redevelopment Authority and StARTup Incubator to Launch Artist Entrepreneurial Fund

ECRDA check presentation
ECRDA check presentation

Launching in September 2020, the Erie County Redevelopment Authority (ECRDA) will begin providing grants of up to $5k to creative startup applicants through its new Artist Entrepreneurial Fund initiative.

The Artist Entrepreneurial fund will be supported by a major gift from the StARTup Incubator. The ECRDA will match the funds. The purpose of this fund is to support opportunities that will benefit artists' careers, including the development of business skills, participation in programs to raise the level and quality of art, and participation in programs that will bring their art to market in order to aid in commercial success. The fund will provide up to a total $25k annually, through a bi-annual application process.

The Incubator, which launched in 2007, will soon cease to operate, and the group has chosen to split the funds between the ECRDA and Erie Arts and Culture (EAC). "We are extremely grateful for all the donors that have supported the StARTup Incubator over the years. Through these new initiatives, our mission will continue to thrive the support of these respective organizations," noted Donna Douglas, board member of the StARTup Incubator. The EAC will be creating a new endowment fund that will help underwrite capacity building programs and training seminars for artists and crafts people of color as well as all creatives ready to take the step from hobbyists to professionals.

Tina Mengine, CEO of the ECRDA notes, "We were excited to hear from the Incubator and help create this ongoing legacy for the organization. This initiative will provide an opportunity to infuse much needed funds into this arena. Starting or growing a business in any industry is challenging, and when there’s an opportunity we look to lessen that burden for others. Our plan is to continue to grow and build on this program over time."

Individual artists, residing in Erie County 18 years of age or over, who devote a majority of their time to practicing, performing and/or teaching an arts discipline will be eligible to apply. The application process and guidelines will be available on the ECRDA website beginning September 1, 2020.

A check presentation and media event will be held at the offices of the ECRDA, located at 1314 Griswold Plaza on Thursday, August 6th at 2 pm. Remarks will be provided by leadership from both organizations. Media is invited to attend; the presentation will be closed to the public.

For more information, call Rebecca Styn at 814.881.9791.

ECRDA Announces Creation of the Office of Capital Finance & Lending

Erie County Redevelopment Authority (ECRDA) moved forward with strategic economic development efforts today, announcing the creation of the Office of Capital Finance & Lending. The new office is a collaboration between the City of Erie and the Erie County Redevelopment Authority that will serve new and existing businesses in a cohesive and direct manner.

"This bold new approach to economic development creates a true one-stop shop for all project and business financing needs," said Tina Mengine, Chief Executive Officer of ECRDA. ECRDA announced that the new Office of Capital Finance & Lending will offer a comprehensive set of public financing tools for any business need. Combined, the new office will have a $30 million loan portfolio, in addition to access to state and federal funds. The Office will offer:

  • Business financing for manufacturing, Industrial, commercial, and service businesses.
  • Project development financing
  • Tax advantage financing
  • Grants

ECRDA is Erie County's only Certified Economic Development Organization providing additional state tools and opportunities that enhance the Office's ability to assist businesses to grow and expand.

The Office will be led by Chris Groner, an experienced leader in economic development and public financing. In his role as Vice President of Capital Lending, Groner will manage the county's loan funds, the Commonwealth's loan and grant programs and the City of Erie's Enterprise Zone Loan Fund, as well as explore and add new financing opportunities. "I'm very excited about this new collaboration between ECRDA and the City and how it will streamline and bring efficiency to economic development financing for businesses in both the City of Erie and Erie County, said Groner."

"We are thrilled that Chris Groner is joining the ECRDA team to lead this new office and initiative. Chris's experience and knowledge coupled with our already strong team firmly plants ECRDA in a position to lead and accelerate growth," added Mengine.

Chris Groner Bio
Chris Groner brings more than 28 years of real estate and finance experience along with 16 years of community and economic development experience with the City of Erie, most recently serving as Director of the Department of Economic & Community Development. As Director, Chris administered the Enterprise Zone Revolving Loan Fund of $11.75M and the annual CDBG budgets in excess of $4M. In addition to his work with the City of Erie, Groner proudly served his country for 10 years as both an enlisted member and a commissioned officer in the United State Navy Reserve. He is a 2003 graduate of Penn State Erie, the Behrend College where he received a Bachelor of Science in Finance with Distinction. Groner has sat on various Economic Development boards including the Economics Advisory Board at the Black School of Business at Penn State Behrend.

ECRDA Continues Covid-19 Response Efforts

From emergency small business loans to property development, ECRDA continues to help the Erie area’s local economy recover from recent pandemic business and manufacturing shutdowns.

Watch WICU/WSEE’s Erie News Now interview with ECRDA CEO, Tina Mengine.

ECGA Meeting

NOTICE OF MEETING

A special meeting of the Erie County General Authority will be held via Zoom meeting on Friday, May 29th at 10:00 A.M.

Please call Karen at (814) 480-0337, Extension 3 , for info on obtaining the zoom website meeting link address.

Erie County Redevelopment Authority Enhances Team, Strengthens Erie County Econonomic Development

Erie County Redevelopment Authority (ECRDA) pushed ahead with strategic economic development efforts today, announcing the addition of key personnel with deep expertise. The new hires will ensure ECRDA has the expertise and tools it needs to meet the challenges of Erie County businesses and revitalization efforts.

“ECRDA continues to strengthen itself and establish the professional assets to lead Erie economic development efforts,” said Tina Mengine, Executive Director. “This team, with its wealth of experience and drive, is positioned to maximize opportunity, provide needed expertise and restart the momentum of Erie’s resurgence.”

ECGRA announced the addition of two key team members, which rounds out the Authority’s restructuring under the leadership of Tina Mengine, who was appointed in late 2019. The dynamic new team of Betsy Bort as Loan Officer, and Sherri Geary as Vice President of Project Development, will work together to help deliver results, and help grow the economy of Erie County.

Loan Officer: Betsy Bort
Betsy Bort joins the ECRDA with more than 30 years of banking experience. She recently retired after serving as Vice President of Commercial Lending at Erie Bank for ten years where she handled a diversified loan portfolio in excess of $60 million and was responsible for developing and enhancing business relationships in the community. Bort has joined ECRDA as a Loan Officer where she will focus on helping business and projects secure the capital needed to be successful.

“Community service and the strength of our local economy has always been very important to me,” said Betsy Bort, ECRDA Loan Officer, “With Erie County in mind, during an unprecedently trying time, I decided to come out of retirement and put my experience to work assisting our local businesses and municipalities.” Bort’s wealth of experience in commercial lending along with her commitment to Erie County is a tremendous asset to the ECRDA and the entire economic development community.

Vice President of Project Development: Sherri Geary
Sherri Geary brings more than 20 years of economic development experience to the ECRDA team. Most recently Geary served as the Director of Economic Development for McKean County where she was responsible for a number of successful building projects in addition to multiple grant awards totaling over $4M. Prior to leading the McKean County efforts, Geary served as an Economic Development Specialist for New York’s Southern Tier Economic Growth Initiative, Executive Director for the Geneva (NY) Business Improvement District, CEO of the Worker Ownership Resource Center (Seneca, NY) and the Seneca County Industrial Development Agency. In her role with ECRDA Geary will lead the business and real estate development arm, focusing on brownfield revitalization projects and industrial site development.

“Erie County has so much to offer culturally, recreationally and economically, said Geary, VP of Project Development, ECRDA.” I am thrilled to join the Erie County Redevelopment team and contribute to the exciting work of building on the active revitalization of Erie County.”

In addition to Bort and Geary, Mengine is pleased to announce that Larry Bossolt, a well-known and respected economic development practitioner will serve as a special project consultant on an as needed basis.

Special Project Consultant: Larry Bossolt
Larry Bossolt served as Senior Vice President of Economic Development Center of Erie County (EDCEC) for 18 years where he was actively involved in the development of several business parks and assisted in the expansion of many of Erie County’s most successful businesses. Following his time at EDCEC, he served as Executive Director of the City of Erie Redevelopment Authority rounding out his industrial and business development experience with housing and community development experience.

DCED updates FAQs to address Yellow Phase of reopening

As we enter the Yellow Phase of reopening parts of Pennsylvania, the ECRDA will provide continued guidance and support for businesses in the midst of adapting to the new normal of operations. We're in this together for the long haul. To remain up-to-date on PA guidelines for reopening, please regularly check DCED's business FAQs.

Please note that questions 3 & 4 on the FAQ pertain specifically to the Yellow Phase:

3. What categories of businesses are required to continue to suspend in-person operations in the Yellow Phase according to the Governor’s Process to Reopen Pennsylvania Plan?

Under the Process to Reopen Pennsylvania, businesses in the following categories are required to continue to suspend in-person operations, or in the case of restaurants and bars continue to operate on a limited basis (curbside pickup, takeout or delivery) until their county is designated as being in the Green Phase:

  • Indoor recreation, health and wellness facilities and personal care services
  • All entertainment
  • Indoor malls; and
  • Restaurants and Bars

What type of businesses fall under "indoor recreation," "health and wellness facilities," and "all entertainment" categories, that are required to continue to suspend in-person operations in the Yellow Phase?

  • Indoor Recreation, Health and Wellness Facilities and Personal Care Services and all Entertainment must remain closed in the Yellow Phase.
  • Indoor recreation includes bowling, arcades, racquetball and other indoor sports or training, go-kart and other racing, laser tag, pool halls, trampoline facilities, indoor mini golf, and other similar facilities.
  • Health and wellness facilities include gyms, saunas, tattoo and piercing shops, tanning, spas, hair salons, nail salons, entities that provide massage therapy, and other similar facilities.
  • Entertainment includes casinos, theaters, concerts, museums, zoos and botanical gardens, racetracks, professional, semiprofessional, or amateur/membership sports teams or clubs, amusement and water parks, carnivals, playgrounds, and other similar facilities.
  • Indoor malls must remain closed. Only tenants with external entrances may open (if they follow the business guidance) as well as pharmacy or health care tenants with either interior or external entrances

Erie County Redevelopment Authority COVID-19 Small Business Emergency Loan Fund Helps 28 Local Businesses, Board Ups Available Funds

The Erie County Redevelopment Authority Board approved an increase of $375,000 to the COVID-19 Emergency Loan Fund, created to help small businesses survive COVID-19 closures.

“The rapid onslaught of requests showed the remarkable stress facing local businesses as they worked to avoid permanent closure," said Tine Mengine, Chief Executive Officer, ECRDA. “With the support of the Board, we have been able to provide businesses from retail and food service to manufacturing and service providers with more than one-million-dollars in emergency capital."

The emergency loan fund, created in March, has helped support 28 local businesses that employ more than 3,000 employees across Erie County. To date, the fund has injected $1.2 million into the local economy, and helped businesses enduring unprecedented closures due to COVID-19 global pandemic.

“ECRDA funding is helping PSNERGY get through this challenging time and we will be stronger when these pandemic issues are behind us, thanks to the professionalism and speed with which our emergency loan was processed," said Carl Nicolia, President, PSNERGY, LLC. “Through their responsiveness, flexibility, and simple process, PSNERGY was able to keep our employees on staff and continue to support our customers in essential steel and aluminum industries".

"This loan was a needed bridge that helped keep our 200+, now virtual workforce, employed," said Thomas Laird, CEO, Expivia Interaction Marketing Group, Inc. “It has allowed us to forego any potential furlough that may have happened with all the uncertainty presently felt by all businesses, and made a huge impact when we needed it most."

The ECRDA COVID-19 Emergency Response included the following:

  • 90-day deferral available to existing loans
  • $1,375,000 Small Business Emergency Loan Fund
    • Loans up to $50,000
    • Zero percent Interest for the life of the loan
    • 1-3 year terms

Erie County Emergency Loans can be accessed online at https://ecrda.net/ECRFloans.php

Save Small Business Fund Opportunity – US Chamber of Commerce Foundation

Starting April 20, 2020, small businesses can submit an application here to apply for a $5,000 grant to be used toward business expenses. The application should take about 10 minutes to complete and will only require your business’s W-9 form and basic supporting information about your business. To quality you must employ between 3 and 20 people, be located in an economically vulnerable community and have been harmed financially by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wolf Administration Announces Loan Deferrals for Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

“This pandemic has presented new and unforeseen challenges to Pennsylvania’s businesses, and the Wolf Administration has been committed to supporting our business community to the fullest extent every step of the way,” said Sec. Davin. “This extended deferral will help ease the burden on small businesses and enable them to focus and prioritize their efforts as we work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the commonwealth.”

Next week, Governor Tom Wolf and Sec. Davin will request loan deferrals for all borrowers with the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority, the Commonwealth Financing Authority (excluding PENNWORKS program loans), the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority, and the Pennsylvania Minority Business Development Authority.

In March, DCED took the emergency executive step of halting April payments, late fees, and accruing interest for these loans. This additional forbearance will apply to May and June payments to include no accrual of interest or fees. Automatic payments will be halted and borrowers paying by check will not be required to submit payment until the scheduled July payment. As a result of the forbearance, the maturity of the loans will be extended for three months.

Resources and information for businesses is regularly posted to http://dced.pa.gov/resources. The U.S. Small Business Administration, in addition to local funding partners, may also be a source of assistance for affected businesses.

Businesses seeking further guidance and clarification from DCED can contact its customer service resource account at ra-dcedcs@pa.gov. For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should follow http://www.governor.pa.gov and http://www.doh.pa.gov

Out of Crisis Comes Innovation in Erie

Port Erie Plastics, Munot Plastics, and Bliley Technologies partner with Penn State Behrend with the goal of producing 5,000 plastic face masks per week.

In the Wake of Covid-19, Senator Casey Offers an Easy Guide for Businesses

There's no shortage of Covid-19 information bouncing about the net right now. To help you catch the news and updates your businesses and families need the most, Senator Bob Casey and his staff are continually updating a Covid-19 Resource Guide for Pennsylvanians. 

Advice for Business Owners on Handling the Current Covid State of Flux

The arrival of Covid-19 to the U.S. caused a serious rift in how we conduct our lives and do business. To adapt, we all made a lot of changes in a very short time period. But even after all those adjustments, we're certain of one thing: more change is coming. In a recent blog post, Corey Sayles of Sayles Industries outlines what Google has done to address the resultant web traffic and how businesses can handle the fluidity of the situation.

"Customers are increasingly online for up-to-date information about the status of local businesses, and their first stop is often the Google my Business (GMB) profile," states Sayles in a recent email. Updating business hours, describing community support, and using Google posts as a newsfeed represent a few of the methods Sayles recommends that businesses use to relay pertinent information effectively.

Read more here.

Erie County Redevelopment Authority launches Covid-19 Small Business Emergency Loan Fund

ERIE, PA (March 24, 2020)—The Erie County Redevelopment Authority Board approved a $1,000,000 COVID-19 Emergency Loan Fund to help small businesses with more than 25 employees survive in the face of mounting financial challenges as a result of COVID-19 closures.

The Board approved the creation of the emergency loan package today to help support local businesses facing unprecedented closures as Erie County and Pennsylvania work to curb the spread of the global pandemic. The Board also approved a 90-day deferral period available to existing ECRDA loan recipients.

“I strongly believe that as a public authority it is our duty to assist local businesses in a time like this,” said Tina Mengine, Chief Executive Officer, ECRDA. “Our business community is suffering in ways no one could have predicted and we have a responsibility to help them get through.

“Saving our businesses will help Erie County save jobs and preserve our local economy. The unprecedented nature of our environment meant taking unprecedented action; I commend the leaders on the Board of Directors for their commitment to our community and embracing the need to infuse dollars in businesses at risk.”

The ECRDA COVID-19 Emergency Response includes the following actions:

  • 90-day deferral available to existing loans
  • $1,000,000 Small Business Emergency Loan Fund 
    • Loans up to $50,000
    • Zero percent interest for the life of the loan 
    • 1-3 year terms
    • 90-day deferral for first payment

Erie County Small Business Emergency Loans can be accessed online at ECRDA.net

A Little Local Help from Unexpected Places

The coming together of a community to get the job done...read here about how local distillers are providing hand sanitizer at a crucial time.

Tina Mengine named CEO of Erie County Redevelopment Authority

Mengine moves from the Governor's Action Team to lead the Erie County Redevelopment Team

"With my career centered around helping Erie County grow and evolve, I jumped at the opportunity to take a position that offers such a tremendous opportunity to significantly move the needle for Erie County," Mengine states in a GoErie.com article by Jim Martin. 

Tina Mengine Uses a Visionary Approach to Redevelop Erie

After two chief-of-staff stints, a V.P. position at a local University, and serving on the regional Governor's Action Team, Mengine leads with a fresh perspective at the Erie County Redevelopment Authority (ECRDA). 

In a GoErie.com article by Jim Martin, Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper says "[Mengine] brings...a true passion for this community" as well as the experience necessary to do well as CEO of ECRDA. 

Read here about Mengine's views on the viability of the Erie region and the ways ECRDA can positively impact local businesses and lives.