by Bob Zaruta, President/CEO, NWIRC

Just as manufacturers have repurposed their operations, realigned talent, and zeroed in on COVID-19 specific priorities, so has the NWIRC. Last month I ended my article with a preview of the no-cost COVID Recovery Program (CRP) developed by NWIRC, Steel Valley Authority, and Department of Labor’s Rapid Response in collaboration with the area’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDC). Since then, we provided an orientation to regional support partner organizations in NWIRC’s 13-county region and introduced the program to Senate and House members serving northwest PA. The program officially launched towards the end of May with business assessments being conducted virtually with several manufacturers. Two of our staff members are now focusing most of their time on this initiative. Susan Hileman is one of the three architects of CRP and will be leading the effort as the Program Manager. Many of you have worked with Susan in multiple capacities over her 14 years with NWIRC. Susan’s genuine passion and commitment to help businesses and communities in northwest PA thrive is unquestionable. Joining her to assist manufacturers with CRP is NWIRC Strategic Advisor, Tom Weible. For over six years, Tom has served manufacturers in our north central region. There is no better way to describe CRP than to say it is truly a collaborated and coordinated regional initiative.

The program includes three important parts: a business assessment, cash flow analysis, and tactical action plan. The initial business assessment of 15-questions evaluating 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?

The second part is a cash-flow/financial analysis. Information collected in the assessment and the cash flow analysis will be used to quickly and thoughtfully develop the tactical action plan with the company’s management team. The plan will include recommendations for various direct services, agencies, partners, and consultants who are best qualified and positioned to provide the customized assistance each company will need to get back in business. The 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). Companies will then move forward with implementing recommendations with continued support of regional resources, including identifying potential funding assistance as part of the tactical action plan.

As a commitment to businesses, regional partners will work together for providing efficient and effective support as we move through the pandemic crisis. Assessments for manufacturers will be completed by NWIRC, Steel Valley Authority, or another economic development partner. All non-manufacturers will be served through the Clarion University or Gannon University SBDCs. Most of the work will be completed via virtual meetings (a total of 4- to 6-hour time investment) with a company’s owner or management team. Working together, we hope to be able to reshape the impact of COVID-19
in a positive way!

See more about the COVID-19 Recovery Program here.