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Local Funds Helps Small Business Stay Open; Give Back

 

Warner's Florist, Gifts and Greenhouses, 179 S. Montgomery St., Hollidaysburg, is a local beneficiary of the PA 30-Day Fund. The fund accepts donations from businesses and individuals and provides grants to businesses hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and closures. "I'm grateful for what they did," said Warner's Owner Garry Warner.

A fund set up by local business owners to help Blair County business owners is already showing results, according to organizers.

Warner's Florist, Gifts and Greenhouses in Hollidaysburg recently received a $3,000 grant from the PA 30-Day Fund.

"This is really going to help out," said Garry Warner, owner of the small business on South Montgomery Street in Hollidaysburg since 1975. "The [application for the grant] was very simple and easy to do. I'm very grateful for what they did."

The PA 30-Day Fund was set up to help small businesses through the problems caused by COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. Under the commonwealth's mitigation plan, some businesses had to close entirely. Others had to restrict their business. Both restrictions eliminated or limited the income of many small businesses. Some are in danger of closing permanently. The fund is designed to provide a lifeline for such businesses.

The fund is still accepting applications. Apply at https://pa30dayfund.com.

Pennsylvania businesses that qualify for assistance from the fund are:

• Small businesses that employ three to 30 people;

• Based in Pennsylvania and have been operating for at least one year;

• Owned and operated by a Pennsylvania resident.

The funds dispersed to small businesses by the Pennsylvania 30-Day fund. do not need to be repaid.

the fund's resources come from donations made by businesses and individuals. Donations can also be made at the main website.

For Warner, the state's restrictions were imposed at his busiest time, May and June. The full-service florist and greenhouse business usually does its best business during that time because of Mother's Day, Memorial Day, proms, graduations and gardeners bedding plants for the summer growing season.

With schools canceling proms and restaurants closed during Mother's Day, flower orders took a hit.

Designed for speed

Jim Foreman, the PA 30-Day Fund's local facilitator, said that the fund was set up to provide quick, no-hassle relief to small businesses. The grants are small, but they can be the difference between staying in business and closing, he said.

Foreman is a partner in ProCare Physical Therapy, which has facilities in the Altoona region.

Foreman said that there's a hyper-local version of the PA 30-Day Fund which focuses on Blair County businesses.

The "About Us" section of the statewide version of the fund's website states:

We are Pennsylvanians helping Pennsylvanians.

The COVID-19 crisis has put millions of small business jobs at risk impacting millions of families across our Commonwealth.

The nonprofit Pennsylvania 30 Day Fund was launched by Jeff Bartos, Richard Phillips and Roger Braunfeld. Working with other business leaders throughout the Commonwealth, the Fund's goal is to help save as many Pennsylvania jobs as possible while small businesses await recently approved federal funding.

Foreman said that the fund is designed to accept and process applications fast, and then get a check out fast. The businesspeople who run the fund understand the need for speed, he said.

"There's the idea of velocity," Foreman said. "There's a quick review by MBA students, then to the board, then decision, then funding. It's boom, boom boom, quick."

The MBA students Foreman referred to are University of Pennsylvania Wharton Business School graduates who don't have jobs yet. They volunteer their time to vet the applications, then pass the best ones on to the PA 30-Day Fund Board, which makes the final decisions about funding. There's a local version of the statewide board to make decisions specifically for Blair County, he said.

Foreman said that the best part of the 30-Day Fund is that businesses who receive the fund's assistance and survive and thrive may, at a later date, "pay it forward" to another Pennsylvania small business in need of assistance. A business can do so by donating back to the fund, which will disburse the funding to another Pennsylvania business in need, he said.

Although the focus is on money, Foreman said, there's much more to the fund than that.

"Equally important but less obvious is the idea of hope and community that comes with the program," he said. "This shows a small business that they are not in this alone. People around them care, and they want the business to continue. That is the transformation of this for both sides, both the business that has the need and the people in the process. This is not just steps and writing a check. This means something beyond the dollars and cents of it. It is truly transformational," he said.

"Look at where we are now. We've got civil unrest in many communities, there's a lot on this country's plate. No one foresaw this even a few months ago. But it's not an overstatement to say that this [fund] is a ray of hope, a spot of light for small business," Foreman said.

Foreman said that the fund has already approved applications from more than a half-dozen local businesses and more are in the works.

"Honestly, the goal of the PA 30-Day fund, is to put itself out of business in short order," Foreman said. "But it will live as long as there is a blend of contributions and need."

He encouraged any small business which meets the funds's standards to navigate to the website and complete an application.

Publisher's Note: The Herald applied for and received a grant from the PA 30-Day Fund in June.

 

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