Lt. Gov. Austin Davis highlights Shapiro-Davis plans to support small businesses, economic growth in Reading

Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis met with small-business owners Tuesday morning for an open conversation about meeting their community’s needs and how the Shapiro-Davis Administration will make much needed investments to help them thrive.

On a walking tour of several business in downtown Reading, Davis shared how he and Governor Josh Shapiro plan to boost investments in small businesses, affordable child care and revitalization, making communities across Pennsylvania “open for business.”

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“When I was growing up in McKeesport, my dad worked as a union bus driver, and my mom was a hairdresser,” said Davis. “I saw firsthand how small businesses, like hair salons, child care centers and restaurants, were the lifeblood of our neighborhood. But many women-owned and minority-owned small businesses often struggle to access capital to get off the ground. The Shapiro-Davis administration wants to help support our small businesses, so our communities can thrive.”

Photo courtesy of Office of Lieutenant Governor: Lt. Gov. Austin Davis and Reading Mayor Eddie Moran visit a child care center in downtown Reading.

The Shapiro-Davis budget puts sustainable state funding into the Historically Disadvantaged Business Program for the first time ever. During the pandemic, the state Department of Community and Economic Development helped to provide nearly $100 million in relief payments to historically disadvantaged businesses. That was followed up with another $20 million in federal funding. The Shapiro-Davis budget proposes investing $20 million in state funds to ensure minority-owned businesses have access to capital to sustain or expand their operations.

“I am laser-focused on bringing resources, helping small businesses grow and boosting our workforce,” said state Rep. Manny Guzman. “I am thrilled about this collaboration with Lieutenant Governor Davis as he will be able to feel the pulse of our economy and get feedback from underserved entrepreneurs of our community.”

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One of the many businesses Davis visited today was Early Beginnings Day Care Center in Reading. Child care centers are important small businesses in many communities, and they are often women-owned businesses. Access to high-quality, affordable child care is a workforce development issue, as well. The Shapiro-Davis budget increases child care services funding by $66.7 million to allow 75,000 low-income families to continue to be enrolled in subsidized care.

Photo courtesy of Office of Lieutenant Governor: State Rep. Manuel Guzman, state Rep. Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz and Lt. Gov. Austin Davis talk with a small-business owner.

“As a Latina businesswoman and state representative, I believe that Governor Shapiro’s budget plan will provide the support that entrepreneurs and small-business owners of our community urgently need,” said state Rep. Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz. “Governor Shapiro’s proposed injection into the Office of Transformation and Opportunity shows a real commitment from his administration. This is fair budget that will provide long overdue funding to women- and minority-owned businesses.”

In addition, the Shapiro-Davis budget plan expands the state’s Keystone Communities Program by investing $8.6 million in communities that are already on a path to revitalization and continuing to facilitate greater participation from smaller, rural and lower-income communities.

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Berks Weekly
Berks Weekly
Berks Weekly is an independent and locally owned digital newspaper covering the City of Reading and Berks County. Subscribe today: berksweekly.com/subscribe
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