By Howard Monroe


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Some much-needed relief is on the way to small businesses across Pennsylvania. State lawmakers approved an additional $60 million in loans for businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

State lawmakers say these loans are giving many closed small businesses a lifeline.

“This is about helping out the average folks in the neighborhoods,” said State Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia).

Help is on the way for the many small businesses forced to close during the COVID-19 outbreak.

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State lawmakers approved $60 million in small business loans. The loans are up to $100,000.

Businesses with less than 100 employees can apply.

“The idea is to get as much money back in people’s pockets as quickly as possible so that they can function and not feel the brunt that this public health crisis will thrust on everyone,” Hughes said. “We have to step back, see what that looks like and then do an assessment of what next has to be done because there’s going to be more that will have to be done.”

Hughes represents Manayunk. Many of the mom-and-pop shops that are nonessential were forced to close as a way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Many others that were allowed to stay open are seeing decreases in sales because of stay-at-home orders.

State Sen. Art Haywood says lawmakers felt obligated to help small businesses after Gov. Tom Wolf essentially shut the state down.

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“We have shut them down so there’s a tremendous obligation that we have to see that they can make it day to day and recover,” said Haywood, who represents Philadephia and Montgomery Counties. “I’m sure that we will recover because Americans have grit, Americans have hope and Americans have ingenuity.”

Locally, Philadelphia has approved $9 million to help small businesses and included in the federal stimulus bill is $350 billion in small business loans that won’t have to be paid back if businesses maintain their workforce.

“What we’re hoping for is that many of these people are rehired once these small businesses can access these loans,” CBS News Business Analyst Jill Schlesinger said.

Businesses can now apply for the state loans and the loans should be paid out as soon as next week.

Hughes said lawmakers are also planning to approve additional recovery funds for down the line.