Help is out there to help businesses, individuals to get through the COVID-19 crisis
April 7, 2020
As the COVID-19 crisis expands grassroots efforts along with non-profits and government are teaming to help take the sting out for reduced and closed businesses in South Pittsburgh.
Business owners in Allentown's commercial district are now meeting weekly through video conferencing to share information and brainstorm on how to keep afloat while the crisis passes. Organized by the Hilltop Alliance, the online meetings include Alliance and city personnel and attended by businesses willing to share what they have learned for help.
A new initiative to buy gift cards is being rolled out this week in Allentown first and then across the city. The campaign will feature posters similar to the "buy war bonds" drive during WWII. The Alliance used a grant from the URA to contract with Allentown artist Maggie Negrete to design the posters.
The Allentown posters will launch first, but any neighborhood can participate and have the posters customized to name their neighborhood at the top and link to a URL on their community-based organization's website that lists the businesses who offer gift cards.
Hilltop businesses can participate by contacting Hilltop Alliance executive director Aaron Sukenik at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Other city businesses should contact Henry Horn-Pyatt: email@example.com.
A list of Allentown businesses, whether they are open or closed and if they offer gift cards is at: pittsburghhilltopalliance.org/buygiftcards.
The Alliance has also added a page of links to resources for businesses on its website where businesses can reach out for help. The resources are available at: pittsburghhilltopalliance.org/smallbizresources.
The Hilltop Alliance staff has been reaching out to individuals who have been recently laid off, offering help to get resource assistance such as the URA's emergency assistance for rent and utilities, and if interested, helping them (however possible) to apply for jobs that are actively hiring (such as grocery stores, Amazon, philips respironics, etc).
A resource page for residents is also available at: pittsburghhilltopalliance.org/supportresources.
The South Side Chamber of Commerce is also hosting information on its website, southsidechamber.org on where businesses can go for assistance. In addition, there is a link to a list of South Side businesses, if they are open, their hours and, for restaurants, if they are open for pickup and/or delivery.
Another resource for South Side businesses is pghopenforbusiness.com/. The website also lists which businesses are open, if pickup or delivery is available.
Economic Development South's executive director Joey-Lynn Ulrich sent out information to the Carrick Business Association outlining what help is available.
Following are two separately compiled digests of information covering a diverse and comprehensive set of topics:
For any business in the City of Pittsburgh, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has created two new loan products. One is meant for existing borrowers and one is aimed at new borrowers (must be existing business), but for both they are being award on a first come, first severed basis. To learn more visit: https://www.ura.org/pages/covid-19 and select "Resources for Businesses".
The PA Department of Community Economic Development has stated small-businesses should work firstly to work with local lenders, particularly institutions with which they already have an established relationship. Our local and regional financial institutions may be our first line of defense. For instance, Bridgeway Capital has worked diligently to establish products and tools for small-business: https://www.bridgewaycapital.org/covid-19relief/.
If no other capital resource exists, DCED recommends working with the Small Business Administration who has agreed to make available low-interest loan opportunities at the request of Governor Wolf: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance
The City of Pittsburgh and URA, along with many business district managers and Community Development Corporations are beginning to pull together plans to encourage the purchasing of regionally specific gift cards that would work in restaurants and retailers within a specified geography. The concept is to partner with local artists to drive interest in beautifully designed gift cards that will help support our small-business community through this hardship.
Any community or business district that wishes to participate should contact Henry Horn-Pyatt: firstname.lastname@example.org to express interest. City neighborhoods and county municipalities are being urged to participate.