Aid for firms supplying gas drillers

BY ROBERT SWIFT

Times-Shamrock Writer

The Central Bradford Progress Authority plans to use $1 million in new federal economic aid to help small businesses find opportunities supplying the Marcellus Shale drilling industry.

The Towanda-based group which covers Bradford and Susquehanna counties will give loans to existing businesses that are developing new products and services to meet the demands of the drilling boom inNortheast Pennsylvania.

“People have ramped up their existing business to have products the industry wants,” said authority executive director Anthony Ventello.

The authority’s goal is to finance 10 business loans and create 150 jobs with the $1 million available through a federal small business jobs act passed last year.

Area businesses have changed their focus recently to add drilling equipment to their product lines or become providers of food services in an effort to benefit from drilling activities, Mr. Ventello said.

The new loans will help them obtain financing at a time when banks have tightened credit, he said.

Ventello was on hand as state officials announced their strategy to drive $29 million in available federal funds through a dozen regional development programs that work with small businesses.

This money is available through the State Small Business Credit Initiative, said Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey.

Casey said he supported passage of the enabling legislation in Congress and urged federal Treasury officials to approve Pennsylvania’s application.

The $29 million in federal aid will leverage private investment and hopefully create about 6,800 jobs, said Alan Walker, secretary of the state Department of Community and Economic Development.