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COVID-19 Information

The safety of Downtown Wilkes-Barre’s residents, workers, and visitors is of the utmost importance to us here at the Diamond City Partnership (DCP). We want you to know that we are monitoring all recommendations and updates from government officials surrounding COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), and we will inform our stakeholders of relevant changes. The first priority for everyone is to take appropriate steps to limit the spread of COVID-19 and ensure our entire community remains healthy.

How to Support Downtown Businesses:

During this time of adjustments in our daily routines, we encourage you to remember our many small businesses in downtown and throughout our community and to continue supporting them even if you cannot visit them physically. As always, follow guidance from public health officials regarding social distancing and proper health etiquette if and when visiting businesses and public spaces.

Specific types of retail businesses – such as banks, pharmacies, and convenience/general merchandise stores – have been deemed “life-sustaining,” pursuant to the Governor’s order. You can find a list of Downtown businesses that remain physically open here.

Operations Update:

At this time, DCP is continuing our on-street cleaning operations throughout the Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Improvement District, as permitted under the provisions of the Governor’s March 18, 2020 order.

DCP’s on-street operations are part of our core mission to provide clean and safe public sidewalks and spaces in Downtown. We have put in place extra procedures and safety provisions for our on-street staff and are reinforcing the recommendations about “social distancing.”

In keeping with the Governor’s order, DCP has closed its administrative office and we are working remotely. However, we are always available to respond to questions that need immediate answers – just contact us here.

Business Assistance Update:

Several public financing programs are currently available to help Downtown Wilkes-Barre businesses access working capital.

Additional programs are currently being finalized, and we will provide information about them to you as soon as they’re available.

Federal Assistance Programs:

The  U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers low-interest federal disaster working capital loans to Pennsylvania small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

These loans can be used to cover expenses incurred during the shutdown period. Eligibility is based on financial impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses, and 2.75% for private non-profit organizations. SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years.

For more information on SBA Disaster Loan Assistance Programs, please call SBA’s disaster assistance customer service center at 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or email them at disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

Loan applications can also be downloaded at www.sba.gov/disaster. Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via the SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

State Assistance Programs:

As of April 1, 2020, Pennsylvania has closed its COVID-19 Working Capital Access (CWCA) Program to new applications.

However, business owners are still being encouraged to complete the CWCA intake form so that their interest in future state assistance can be documented. Please CLICK HERE to access that intake form, administered through the Chamber’s Wilkes-Barre Connect program.

CWCA loan guidelines may be downloaded here.

Local Assistance Programs:

The Luzerne County Small Business Loan Program (LCSBLP) is a revolving low-interest loan program open to all small businesses in Luzerne County. LCSBLP is managed by the Greater Wilkes-Barre Industrial Fund, MetroAction, and other local non-profits. The current LCSBLP interest rate is 1.82%.

If you are interested in the LCSBLP program, please CLICK HERE to access a short intake form, administered through the Chamber’s Wilkes-Barre Connect program.

Each of these programs will require supporting information from business owners – so we also recommend that you begin assembling the following information if you intend to apply:

  • A short description of your business;
  • Your prior year’s tax returns;
  • Internal figures through 2/28/2020;
  • Financial projections for this year; and
  • An estimate of how much working capital you currently have on hand.

Additionally, the Wilkes University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is here to help with your small business concerns. SBDC Business Consultants are available for individual meetings by phone or real-time video conferencing.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s online Coronavirus Response Guide, with sections containing information for individuals, families, and businesses, can be found here. And, the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber’s COVID-19 Resource Guide can be found here.

Downtown Business Promotion Update:

Since the start of this crisis, DCP has been compiling a running list of downtown restaurants that are providing takeout and/or delivery. We’ve been posting that list on DCP’s social media channels (such as Instagram (@downtownwilkesbarre) and Facebook) and sharing it with regional media outlets.

However, we need your help in keeping this information up to date.

So, if you are a downtown retailer, restaurant, or service provider who’s adapting to the current situation by offering online shopping, deliver/takeout, virtual classes, or something similar, send us an email so we can help get the word out.