Tuesday, August 4, 2015

2015 Small Business Advantage Grant Program - OPEN Now Accepting Applications

The Small Business Advantage Grant (SBAG) is a grant program providing 50 percent matching grants, up to a maximum of $9,500.00, to enable a Pennsylvania small business to adopt or acquire energy efficient or pollution prevention equipment or processes.

Who is eligible? 
Just about any Small Business operating in the United States.  There are a few ineligible industries, and typically small business is defined by the SBA as having 500 or less employees.

What can the loan be used for?
Loan proceeds can be used for long or short term working capital needs, to purchase machinery/equipment, purchase or renovate real estate for the business, refinance existing business debt.

Borrowing ability, Term and interest rate?
Maximum borrowing ability is $5M under this program.  Terms are Generally 25 years on property, 10 years on machinery/equipment, and up to 7 years on working capital.
Since the loan is only guaranteed by the SBA , the rates are negotiable with the lender.  SBA does have ceiling guidelines on allowable interest rates for variable and fixed loans.

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Budget Process is Moving Forward

Budget negotiations continue, but with no finished product.  Talks between key budget negotiators concluded this week with no final budget, but did result in a “better understanding” between both sides on their differences. The House Appropriations Committee passed a budget framework vehicle (House Bill 1460) as a procedural motion to have the process start more quickly if/when an agreement is put into place.  As reported by PLS,  Chairman Bill Adolph (R-Delaware) said the move was necessary as part of House rules in order to make sure an agreed-to product can be considered in a timely manner. “House rules require the posting of a General Appropriations bill for second consideration, it takes about two weeks in advance of when this bill will actually be voted on the floor,” he told committee members. “We are voting House Bill 1460 today so we can get it a first reading and get it in position for second consideration whenever we’re able to reach a negotiated agreement with the administration." In the meantime, most state agencies continue to receive funding even without a budget, schools, non-profits, and local governments will not. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Another Budget Update

This summer has already seen major legislative battles in Harrisburg over Pennsylvania’s budget, liquor privatization and pension reform.  Democratic Governor Tom Wolf and the Republican majorities in the state House and Senate have been dramatically far apart on these and other issues. On June 30, the Republican Majorities in the state legislature sent the Governor a $30.2 billion spending plan that held the line on taxes while boosting funding for education.  The Governor swiftly vetoed the entire budget, the first time Harrisburg observers believe this was done in modern history.

Pennsylvania is now without a budget in the new fiscal year, and both sides must restart discussions in an attempt to find common ground.  This process could take weeks or even months, an alarming notion for organizations that count on state funding and for individuals in need of state services.

Two big other issues of note: The General Assembly sent Governor Wolf legislation that would privatize Pennsylvania’s sale of wine and liquor, with state-owned stores closing over time as licenses were granted to businesses.  The Governor vetoed this legislation, saying he instead favors modernization of the current state-owned system.  In addition, the House and Senate sent the Governor a bill that calls for retirement benefits of future state and school district workers to be placed in a 401(k)-type system instead of the current approach based on employee salaries at the time of retirement.  As of early this week, the Governor has not taken action on this bill.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Budget Update

The House and Senate Republicans passed a budget on June 30th, which the Governor promptly vetoed.  However, legislative leaders met with the Governor the next day and all sides stated that they were still making efforts to find agreement on a General Fund budget.

However, the lack of a spending plan in place at the beginning of the July 1st Fiscal Year leaves the potential for vendors and human service organizations to be cut off from needed state funds. As reported by PLS, One thing all parties agreed to after Wednesday’s meeting was that staff meetings would begin immediately on topics, but substantive budget negotiations between the governor and legislative leaders would not begin again until after the July 4th holiday.

“We’re going to be working between now and the weekend, and then on Monday all sides are going to sit down to work with working groups,” said Gov. Wolf. “We now have two plans out there, mine and the plan that came out last night, and we’re going to sit down and spend how long it takes and make sure we are on the same page.”

Once a plan is agreed upon it could be up to 3 weeks of legislative process to see it passed and signed.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Marcus Hook Energy Hub

At a recent event in Marcus Hook last week nearly 20 legislators met to discuss the natural gas industries recent growth and how it benefits the Commonwealth. One of the key legislators, Speaker of the House Mike Turzai spoke about how the Philadelphia area is poised to create nearly “2.2 million jobs” in the industry that could help hard working Pennsylvanians get a leg up. As long as Harrisburg continues to nurture growth in this rapidly expanding industry many families across the Commonwealth can expect to see themselves with good paying jobs.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance (PEIA)

The Delaware County Chamber of Commerce is excited to announce our involvement in the newly launched, Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance (PEIA). This is a coalition made of our partners at the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 66, and the Laborers International Union of North America, all groups united in support of energy infrastructure investments in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania is currently the second highest natural gas producing state and the way we transport natural gas and natural gas liquids is extremely important for further development of these energy resources and critical to our local communities. Pipelines are the safest form of transport and their construction and operation provides countless direct and indirect benefits to our local economy, including many of our member businesses.

Specific to Delaware County, southeast Pennsylvania is currently on the cusp of exciting growth and opportunity with the revitalization of the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex, as a part of the Mariner East natural gas liquids pipeline project.  This economic investment will not only provide Pennsylvanians with affordable, domestic energy products, but it will also provide hundreds of jobs and economic growth here in Delaware County. The benefits of a revitalization project of this magnitude are not limited to those working on the project. Heightened investment in the community means more restaurant patrons, store sales, new hotel business, increased housing purchases and apartment rentals, and more, all here in Delaware County.

With these economic benefits for Delaware County in mind, please check out our website at, PA Infrastructure Energy Alliance, and follow the coalition on twitter at @PAllies4Energy.

Pension Reform

Pension reform likely before end of June- A pension reform package being negotiated between the State House and Senate Republican caucuses may be finalized by June.  The House State Government held a hearing this week on Senate Bill 1, which would place new hires into a 401(k)-style plan and reduce benefits for current state employees. Read complete details.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Meet Alex Rahn

Look Who's Talking . . . 

Alex Rahn, Senior Associate, Wanner Associates is the Chamber’s government affairs consultant and has over eighteen years’ experience in the association, corporate, government, non-profit, and political sectors. Mr. Rahn previously owned his own state, municipal, and federal government relations firm before joining Wanner Associates. Currently, Alex advocates for a diverse array of clients, including the Self Storage Industry, Defense Firms, Energy Industry, Child Abuse Prevention and Child Welfare. Alex previously served as the Southeast Political Director for Senator Arlen Specter and spent more than six years working as both the District Director and Campaign Manager for Congressman Curt Weldon. Alex currently serves or has served on many community organizations, including the American Red Cross in Chester County, United Way, and CASA/Children’s Advocates, Neumann University Center for Community Leadership Development, and West Chester University Alumni Association. He is a former Councilman of Ridley Park Borough, former member of the PA Army National Guard, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Relations from West Chester University.