White House officials join Scranton ARPA small business grant announcement 

February 27, 2024

Senior White House officials brought their “Investing in America” tour to Scranton on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, to witness the City’s strategic use of federal funding and to award more than $540,000 to nine small businesses. Visiting officials included Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Tom Perez and Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Isabel Casillas Guzman. Grants were awarded through Scranton’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Small Business Startup and Expansion grant program.

“What an opportunity it’s been to show Director Perez and Administrator Guzman first-hand the impact that federal funding is having on our business community,” Mayor Paige Cognetti announced at Zummo’s Café, 918 Marion St., Scranton. “This is the power of the federal government directly at the municipal level. We’re so thankful for the chance to share the day with them and to celebrate our most recent grant recipients.”

In its spending plan approved by City Council in May 2022, the City allocated a total of $4.75 million to small business support programs. Applicants for Startup and Expansion funding can receive up to 25% of eligible costs in their startup or expansion project budget, with a $100,000 limit per business.

The City awarded $349,610 to five small businesses in January 2023, $301,160.30 to another five businesses in March, and $556,588 to nine businesses in June. Tuesday’s awards total $540,231 for nine more businesses. Other applications received before the deadline last fall remain under review, to be awarded based on eligibility and on a first-come, first-served basis.

 Grant recipients, the funding they will receive, and their project details, in alphabetical order, are: 

  • Center City Print, 119 Penn Avenue, $100,000 for the creation of an expanded storefront into the neighboring space at 121 Penn Avenue, offering new services to clients and expanded production capabilities including a flatbed printer to increase manufacturing output at a lower cost to clients. Grant funding supports personnel, equipment, marketing, and more. “This program has been an integral part of helping our business and others in the City of Scranton,” Center City Print Owner Alex Molfetas said. “It is such a unique opportunity to see federal funds help businesses expand and even hire more employees within our great city. Small business is the cornerstone of our country.” 
  • Empanada King, 116 North Washington Avenue, $100,000 for the creation of a second location of the original Wilkes-Barre-based business in downtown Scranton. Grant funds support equipment purchases, inventory, payroll, and more. Empanada King previously received a Scranton small business microgrant for $5,000. 
  • Sanh Investments, LLC, doing business as Express Title and Tag, 1100 South Washington Avenue, $13,746 for the creation of a new South Scranton business. Grant funding supports startup costs including payroll, advertising, and operating expenses. 
  • Scranton Pilates, 120 Franklin Avenue, $32,037.50 to aid capital expenses for the launch of a premier boutique fitness studio in downtown Scranton with an emphasis on Reformer Pilates, which uses specialized equipment to create resistance and provide a full-body workout. Grant funding supports equipment, employment, marketing, and operating costs. Scranton Pilates previously received a Scranton small business microgrant for $5,000. “We are delighted to share the profound impact the grant has had on our business,” Scranton Pilates Founder Alya Palfrey said. “Thanks to this support, our expense ratio has significantly decreased, enabling us to operate more efficiently and allocate resources strategically.” 
  • Scranton Premier Mart, 2010 Pittston Avenue, $100,000 to establish a new convenience store in a recently renovated building with a focus on serving the local Nepalese, Bhutanese, and other ethnically diverse groups in and around South Scranton. Grant funding largely supported the purchase of commercial-grade kitchen equipment. 
  • Sho Laboratories, 201 Lackawanna Avenue, Suite 322, $49,999 for the recently formed research and development company to create its own data collection technology that will communicate with innovative hardware. Grant funding will support new employment, furniture, electronic hardware, and more. 
  • Sho Technology Solutions, 201 Lackawanna Avenue, Suite 320, $100,000 for the business software engineering, development and consulting company to make greater investments in personnel, training, and investment into its technology infrastructure. “We thank the City of Scranton and Mayor Cognetti’s office for offering this grant program and investing in local businesses,” Sho Technology Solutions Principal & Chief Architect Jason C. Washo said. “We are honored to work alongside other businesses in Scranton and to be part of such a thriving business community. We look forward to seeing how this investment continues to grow the economic ecosystem in our community.” 
  • Tiddlywinks Boutique, 135 Wyoming Avenue, $28,197 to help the children’s character party venue to cover initial operating expenses and offer more unique birthday party experiences for children across NEPA. 
  • Zummo’s Cafe, 918 Marion Street, $16,250 to support recent renovations to expand work space and better serve clients of the Scranton coffee shop. Grant funding supported remodeling costs, furniture, appliances, and more. 

Other ARPA funding opportunities for small businesses have included façade renovation grants, fiscal recovery grants, and the City’s innovative Wage Boost grants. Information about Scranton’s ARPA plan is online at scrantonpa.gov/arpa

Following the grant announcement, Director Perez, Administrator Guzman, and Mayor Cognetti visited other businesses that have benefitted from federal programs, including On & On Vintage Marketplace, 1138 Capouse Ave., Scranton, and Noteology, 537 Wyoming Ave., Scranton. On & On received an SBA loan to purchase its building in 2017 and a COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) in 2020. Noteology received its own Scranton ARPA Small Business Expansion grant in June to support their move to Wyoming Avenue. 

Director Perez also joined a roundtable discussion Tuesday afternoon on Scranton’s development of a community violence intervention program hosted at the NEPA Youth Shelter, 541 Wyoming Ave., Scranton. Service providers from across the City and Scranton Police Department Chief Thomas Carroll offered insight into their current programs and community needs. Scranton is reallocating more than $580,000 in ARPA funds to address ongoing concerns about community violence. 

ABOUT THE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT (ARPA) OF 2021: ARPA is a $1.9 trillion federal economic stimulus bill. The City of Scranton has been awarded $68.7 million in ARPA funds to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency and its economic impacts. The mission of Scranton’s ARPA program is to give people access to resources, rebuild the infrastructure systems that impact their everyday lives, and foster equitable wealth generation that targets the needs of Scranton residents.

White House officials join Scranton ARPA small business grant announcement | Press Release

Last modified: February 27, 2024

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