‘Forgiveable’ loans offered to small business owners

Walt Frank

May 22, 2020

Altoona Mirror

The nonprofit Pennsylvania 30 Day Fund, a volunteer-powered nonprofit 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.

“We have been blessed to recruit a talented and diverse group of leaders to join our board,” said Bartos, a small business owner from Merion. “We have been volunteering every day for the past two weeks to review applications and fund small businesses with $3,000 forgivable loans. Small businesses in Pennsylvania are facing an extinction-level event, and we are humbled to have the opportunity to help save as many small businesses as possible over the next 30 to 45 days.”

Although a statewide initiative, there is help for available for Blair County small businesses.

“I love the energy of it, I am on fire about it,” said Jim Foreman, partner at Pro Care and facilitator of the fund for Blair County. “All monies raised here will be used here — 100% of the monies raised here will go to businesses here. We have only been working on it since last weekend. We are just getting it going and between pledges and money received, we have raised about $60,000 in a couple of days, from about 20 contributors.

“This is a caring and giving community where people identify with the mission. We hope to get it to hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

The fund money comes from individuals, foundations and other business owners.

Loan applications must be submitted online through www.pa30dayfund.com.

“We review the applications online,” Bartos said. “It is a very simple process. We have 19 volunteers from the University of Pennsylvania and the Wharton School. They review the applications and make recommendations to the board. They can get $3,000 forgivable loans within three business days or less.”

Blair County has formed its own oversight board to work with Bartos’ group to review the applications. Members include Doug Wolf, Diane Osgood, Tim Harclerode, Don Witherspoon and Jesse Ickes.

“As money comes in, they will review and distribute funds,” Foreman said. “They are a good cross-section of our community. We are working hard to get money quick and make awards. They will make awards as early as next week.”

To be eligible for a loan, businesses must employ three to 30 people. They must be based in Pennsylvania, have been operating for at least a year and be owned and operated by a Pennsylvania resident, Bartos said.

Bartos said the fund is getting a lot of applications.

“We’ve already received about 800 applications in just over two weeks,” he said. “We have now received $300,000 to help them. The need is greater than the funding. We’ve funded over 45 in two weeks but none are in Blair County. We want businesses to apply. We are excited to have small businesses from Blair County apply.”

People who want to donate to the fund can do so online.

The fund has applied for exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, as amended. Contributions to PA 30-Day Fund will become tax deductible if the IRS determines PA 30-Day Fund qualifies as exempt under Section 501(c)(3). PA 30-Day Fund offers no assurance contributions will become tax-deductible.

Foreman also said the local group is working collaboratively and in partnership with Altoona Blair County Development Corp. and the Blair County Chamber of Commerce, which will be unfolding complimentary programs designed to help local businesses with resources, finances and marketing.