Resources to Help Startups and Small Businesses

These are tough times, especially for startups and small businesses. Fulfilling our mission to support entrepreneurs in the Southern Alleghenies is more important than ever. We’re here to help you keep the dream alive.

That’s why Startup Alleghenies is curating information to identify what’s most valuable to our entrepreneurs, and dedicating a section of our website where we will aggregate that content for your information and convenience.

We also will share the latest information on opportunities for financial recovery (whether County, State or Federal) with regular updates to this site, so check in when you can.  Our Entrepreneur Coaches are also ready to help with any personal advice you need.

We’re in this together.  And together, we’ll get through it.

So please share your ideas via posts to our Startup Alleghenies Facebook page to help and inspire other entrepreneurs who are facing similar challenges.

BREAKING NEWS: This week, the Paycheck Protection Program resumed accepting applications, following the signing of the program’s extension legislation. The new deadline to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program loan is August 8, 2020.  

To access the application or to learn more about the program, designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll during the COVID-19 crisis, please visit the
Small Business Administration’s website.

 (July 8)

U.S. Small Business Administration COVID-19 Programs and Resources

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Self-employed, Contractors or Gig Economy Workers

Updated: May 7th, 2020: The PUA System now has full functionality! You may begin filing your weekly certifications.

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ROUND 2 BEGINS AUGUST 10TH: The PA CDFI Network has announced that the second grant application window will open at 9:00 AM on August 10th and will remain open for 15 business days closing at 11:59 PM on August 28th.

COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance

(The Progress Fund’s website will be the regional portals you must use to apply for a grant for your business.)

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Hazard Pay Grants Now Available for Front-Line Workers in Life-Sustaining Industries

Created through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, this reimbursement-based grant is available to employers offering hazard pay during the eligible program period and will be administered by the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). Businesses may apply for grants up to a maximum of $3 million.

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The Department of Labor and Industry recently opened a new phone line to help Pennsylvanians who have questions or concerns pertaining to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. Claimants can call 855-284-8545 for assistance from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Claimants can also get help via email at The new helpline is for PUA claimants only.

Individuals who have questions about the state’s regular Unemployment Compensation program can call 888-313-7284 or email

(Updated May 29, 2020)

Unemployment Compensation

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The Process to Reopen Pennsylvania

As stabilization starts to occur, Pennsylvania plans to proceed with returning to work cautiously.

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The COVID-19 Back-to-Work Playbook for Manufacturers

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COVID-19 Employment Opportunities

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Pennsylvania COVID-19 PPE & Supplies Business-2-Business (B2B) Interchange Directory

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COVID-19 Guidance and Information for Business – PA Dept. of Health

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Families First Cornoavirus Response Act

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Intuit Aid Assist – Navigate your way towards small business COVID-19 relief

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US Department of Agriculture’s COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide

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Commonwealth of PA – Critical Medical Supplies Procurement Portal

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FEMA: How To Help

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Drawings/Specs for Critical COVID-19-related Products

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eCommerce/Productivity Solutions

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Ben Franklin’s BIG IDEA Winners Chosen in Virtual Event

Even a pandemic can’t stop entrepreneurship in the Southern Alleghenies.

Ben Franklin Technology Partner’s first virtual BIG IDEA Pitch Presentation and Awards was held June 18, 2020. About 100 participants joined the Zoom event to watch this year’s six finalists compete for a prize pool of $50,000, and to vote for the winner of the People’s Choice Award, sponsored by Somerset Trust Company.

Ben Franklin, in partnership with Startup Alleghenies, hosted the contest to highlight the region’s emerging tech-entrepreneurs, innovators and small manufacturers, as well as to provide them with financial support to take their businesses to the next level.

“It was terrific to see applications from so many of our Startup Alleghenies entrepreneurs,” said Debbi Prosser, director business-development, Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission (SAP&DC).  “I was especially pleased to note that we had winners from four of our counties, including Bedford, Blair, Cambria, and Somerset. This is a tribute not only to Ben Franklin, but also to our Coaches and  our partners, including, ABCD Corporation, JARI and Bedford County Development Association.”  

This year education and healthcare took center stage. Timothy Kretchman, Action Driven Education, LLC, landed the first prize of $25,000. Kretchman, a veteran special education teacher and school administrator developed Accomods, specially designed instruction modules for teachers that empower students beyond their disabilities.

Mary Kate Zima, Nurse Navigator Solutions LLC, took second place with a prize of $12,500. The company partners with physician practices in urology, combining data and personal guidance to improve the quality of patient care.

Sam Thurau, HHG Drums, the third-place winner, also received $12,500. Each HHG drum is precisely hand crafted using a mixture of old-world techniques, cutting edge equipment and the highest quality materials to produce instruments that meet the needs of today’s drummers.

Ankit Patel, Meerya LLC, won the People’s Choice Award and $2,500 for Meerya, LLC’s Smart Horns . Like  an automatic braking system, the Smart Horn automatically triggers to warn a driver about the danger of a collision.

Other finalists this year included Duncan Everhart, Hinterland Tools, inventor of the “no math” woodworking miter, and Travis Lodolinsky and Derek Lengenfelder, creators of  On Air in Cambria County, a social audio platform complete with Emoji special effects.

In addition to the financial rewards, winning entrepreneurs also receive access to free e-marketing webinars and business advice on how to access grant money. They also are eligible to apply for Ben Franklin’s TechCelerator program, another partnership between Ben Franklin and Startup Alleghenies. The deadline for the next TechCelerator is July 3. To learn more visit:


Startup Alleghenies is on a mission to bring greater economic vitality to the region by creating an ecosystem for success that recruits and supports entrepreneurs. Launched in June 2017 by the Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission (SAP&DC), Startup Alleghenies entrepreneurs are mentored by coaches who provide 360 support to help them navigate a vast network of partners at economic development groups, private organizations, investors and universities–all working together to bring talent, new businesses, and jobs to the region.


Whether you’re starting a business or just thinking about it, a member of the media, an investor, or someone who cares about our region, learn more about what’s going on to revitalize our region’s reputation as a startupzone. Sign up to receive the latest insider information.

“I think we’ve probably hit peak Silicon Valley, and we need to figure out ways to have a more diverse, inclusive economy. We want the rust belt to become the startup belt.”

–AOL Founder and Revolution CEO Steve Case, November 2017 on CNBC (see video)

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Our Entrepreneurs

Click on an entrepreneur to learn more:

Vinzeal | ETAL Transfer Authority
Jeremy & Jennifer | Press Bistro
Mark | Mark Albert Boots
Dave | Wrivo, LLC
Mike | InnoH20 Solutions
John | EMG Brands


Startup Alleghenies is celebrated its second year in April 2019. Here are the highlights about our 451 enrolled and active Startup Alleghenies entrepreneurs in Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Fulton, Huntingdon and Somerset Counties.

What kind of business are they creating?

Where are the entrepreneurs coming from?