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Governor Tom Wolf Calls For Small Business Support During State College Visit

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf visited The Nittany Quill in downtown State College Wednesday afternoon to call on state legislators to support small businesses with remaining American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

The act, signed into law in March 2021, originally allocated $7 billion to help Pennsylvania recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. More than a year later, about $2.2 billion from the allocation remains unused.

“The time is still right for this program to do its magic,” Wolf said. “That’s why I’m calling on the General Assembly to invest another $225 million…to help small businesses right now.”

This $225 million toward small businesses is part of Wolf’s five-traunch $1.7 billion plan to spend the remaining funds, which also included investments in health care and conservation, among other initiatives. Doing so would provide grants between $5,000 and $50,000 to about 11,000 small businesses throughout Pennsylvania.

Wolf was introduced on Wednesday by Nittany Quill owner Joy Rodgers-Mernin, who was one of 29 State College business owners to receive a similar grant through the Small Business Assistance Program and federal CARES Act funding. She thanked Wolf for supporting similar efforts as the pandemic continues affecting small businesses.

“It certainly has been a challenging couple of years and that grant was absolutely a lifeline,” Rodgers-Mernin said.

Downtown State College Improvement District Executive Director Lee Anne Jeffries, State Rep. Scott Conklin, State College Mayor Ezra Nanes, and Centre County Commissioner Michael Pipe also voiced support for Wolf’s plan on Wednesday.

Conklin, who represents District 77 in Centre County, co-designed the spending plan with Wolf. The two and other Democratic legislators unveiled the spending plan in Harrisburg back in February.

“[Rodgers-Mernin] is literally the backbone, and individuals like are the backbone of this community,” Conklin said. “You don’t get this type of environment from a big box store. This is where you walk in and people like joy are there to help you.”

Nanes piggybacked off Conklin’s enthusiasm for supporting small businesses — which he called the “lifeblood” of State College — through the ARPA, adding that he’d like to prioritize grants for women-owned, minority-owned, and rural businesses.

“In many cases…full recovery is not yet assured, and the continuity of these businesses may depend on the availability of grants to fill holes in their balance sheets and to hire and train, or even retrain, staff until sales and operations can be stabilized,” Nanes said.

Wolf emphasized that this money is different from the commonwealth’s $2.9 billion Rain Day Fund and, rather, is an allocation of federal dollars through the ARPA.

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About the Author

Ryan Parsons

Ryan is a redshirt senior majoring in business and journalism from "Philadelphia" and mostly writes about football nowadays. You can follow him on Twitter @rjparsons9 or say hi via email at [email protected]

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