Recovery Program Targets Western Pa. Companies Hurt by Virus

HERMITAGE, Pa. – Businesses in Lawrence and Mercer counties are among those encouraged to take part in the COVID Recovery Program, a collaborative initiative between the Steel Valley Authority’s Strategic Early Warning Network, Northwest Industrial Resource Center, Rapid Response and the Small Business Development Centers at Clarion and Gannon universities. 

The COVID-19 Recovery Program is a coordinated and collaborative initiative by a regional network of partners to assist companies in the coming weeks and months, according to a release by NWIRC. It provides assistance to companies in northwestern and north central Pennsylvania counties – including Erie, Crawford, Warren, Venango, Clarion, Forest, McKean, Potter, Elk, Cameron, Jefferson and Clearfield counties – through partner organizations such as chambers of commerce, trade associations and financial institutions.

The no-cost program includes an initial business assessment and financial analysis, followed quickly by a “thoughtful tactical action plan and debrief” to provide a business the custom support they need, according to the release.

To provide some baseline information, business leaders can take a five-minute survey – available here – and will be matched with the appropriate organizations after the survey has been processed.

“Not all businesses are starting from the same point as we all work our way through this pandemic,” wrote Penn-Northwest Development Corp. President and CEO Randy Seitz in an email announcing the program. “With our matrix of services and partners identified for the program, we are confident all businesses will get the assistance they need.” 

All work is completed via virtual meetings (for a total of a 6-hour time investment) with a company’s management team. This initial assessment and planning work is completed with funding authorized by the CARES Act via the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP). Additional fund phases may support the project implementation needs recommended in tactical action plan. 

A business assessment completed by one of the regional organizations, such as NWIRC; SBDC; Steel Valley Authority; or another economic development partner, will answer three foundational questions:

• What does the business need to reopen or rebuild?
• At what point does the business regain strength and stabilize?
• How can the business sustain and grow? 

Information collected will be used in development of a tactical action plan for the company and recommendations for various direct services, agencies, partners, and consultants best positioned to assist. Companies can then move forward with implementing the recommendations with continued support of regional resources, including identifying potential funding assistance for aspects of the plan.

For more information or to participate, contact your local economic development partner or the program’s coordinator, Susan Hileman, at

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.