On today's program: Business owners could get a second chance at assistance if Congress acts; parents navigate special education at home during the pandemic; and local farms figure out new ways to connect with customers.
The federal loan program ran dry, now what?
(00:00 — 10:03)
A second infusion of paycheck protection could open to business owners in Pittsburgh this week. The federal program was initially granted $350 billion, but the money ran out after just two weeks.
Kelly Hunt, director of the Small Business Administration’s Western Pennsylvania district, says about 75 percent of the local SBA's first-round participants received modest figures worth eight weeks of payroll, meaning the aid went mostly to smaller companies.
Anne Flynn Schlicht, director of the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Chatham University, says she worries the requirements that companies have fewer than 500 employees sets too high a bar. Chatham works mostly with women- and minority-owned business with fewer than 20 employees. Schlicht says prioritizing the smallest—or those still in line from round one—would be more equitable and possibly save business owners struggling to stay afloat.
WESA's parent company, the Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corporation, was among the first wave of recipients.
Special education programs might need more than virtual school can offer
(10:14 — 13:34)
Special education is a challenge for school districts even in normal times, and many expect it will be even trickier now that school is virtual.
Keystone Crossroads reporter Avi Wolfman-Arent reports that while districts have been told to make their best-faith efforts to help children with disabilities during the transition, virtual programs can’t recreate the services some students receive at brick-and-mortar schools.
Some parents, he says, are wondering what they should demand of their school districts.
Small farms rethink how to get food to customers
(13:39 — 18:09)
While schools and many restaurants remain closed and unable to buy produce, some big farms are struggling to sell their products.
90.5 WESA’s Julia Zenkevich contributed to this report.
The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.