Small Blair County business owners now eligible for boost of funding during pandemic

Shawn Rapp

May 26, 2020


BLAIR COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Small businesses in Blair County are now eligible to get a boost during the COVID-19 pandemic through a new nonprofit called the Pennsylvania 30 Day Fund through forgivable loans. Through an agreement with one of the founders, money donated to the county stays in the county.

“Small businesses in Pennsylvania are facing an extinction-level event,” says Jesse Ickes, Board Member for the Pennsylvania 30 Day Fund in Blair County.

If a business meets certain criteria, it can get up to $3,000.

“You have to be in business for a year, you have to be a Pennsylvania resident, the business has to be in Pennsylvania, you have to have between 3 and 30 employees and a for-profit business,” says Jim Foreman, Facilitator of the board in Blair County.

Applications are screened and reviewed by grad students at the University of Pennsylvania.

“They make a recommendation to either fund, put on a waiting list, to not fund based on sustainability or number of employee, etc,” says Ickes. “We can actually make a decision that may be different from what the initial recommendation is from the students at Penn.”

Lots of funding has been made available for businesses through the CARES Act and the Payroll Protection Program, however, many folks haven’t been able to get their hands on any of that money.

“When this whole thing hit, if you didn’t have resources and relationships at a higher level in banking, then it was difficult to get through the whole process before the money had run out,” says Foreman.

He says they have $60,000 raised so far. Five Blair County businesses have applied and two have already been approved.

Mike Dorman is the owner of Dorman’s Jewelry in Altoona and was one of the first to get approved.

“I really don’t have a large web presence when it comes to online ordering. We are the essential brick and mortar type of business,” says Dorman.”For two months we sat paying utilities, insurances…there’s bills that you just can’t not pay. It’ll definitely help recoup that.”

Even with the high amount already donated, Foreman says that won’t last forever.

“When you look back on this time and you wonder what all you did and what all you could do, you add to that questions did I do for myself and did I do for others. If everyone in Blair County gave $3.00, you would have $400,000.”