The Lancaster Small Business Emergency Fund is a new fund composed of grants and loans designed to provide COVID-19 relief to small businesses located in the City of Lancaster. There is $1.45 million available in the fund, with $200,000 of that available as grants. The fund will offer the remaining amount as low interest and

On April 10, 2020, the GIANT Company and Team Pennsylvania, announced a $250,000 emergency grant program for companies in the food supply chain. The program will support farms, processors, and other small food businesses that are impacted by COVID-19.

If you are interested, the deadline is short, so you must complete the application quickly. 

The U.S. Congress, as part of the CARES Act, has created the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) to provide loan funds to small businesses to increase employee payroll retention during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program even offers forgiveness for the loan under certain conditions. 

Small businesses under 500 employees (including sole proprietorships, independent contractors, and self-employed

The first thing on everyone’s mind right now is the health and safety of our family, friends and neighbors.  But as the quarantines and restrictions increase with the spread of the coronavirus and COVID-19, businesses will start to be hurt as well.  At some point, every business needs to know how coronavirus will affect their contracts.  Are you going to get refunds for the things you already paid for?  Are your construction contracts going to cost more because of delay?

The answer is:  It depends.

If we want to predict the impact of coronavirus on business agreements, we have to read the agreements.  They can treat the situation in a number of different ways.  Many agreements have a force majeure or “act of God” provision. Maybe the contract calls these events “unavoidable casualties” or “events beyond the control of the parties.”  The point is that different contracts may treat these situations differently.  Let’s look at some examples:
Continue Reading How Does Coronavirus Affect Your Contracts?

I have gotten a number of questions recently related to the PA Skill games that are becoming more and more popular in bars, restaurants, and even convenience stores.  The questions I get are often concerning whether those games are legal and can lawfully be operated by a business owner, particularly if they hold a liquor license.

Recently, the Pennsylvania State Police and the Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement conducted an investigation and seized a number of games in the Central Pennsylvania area.  In justifying these seizures, they took the position that these machines constitute illegal gambling devices and were subject to seizure by the police. That action by the police led to concerns by restaurateurs and other holders of liquor licenses that they were going to get in trouble or have these machines seized by the police.

After these raids and seizures by the state Police, Pace-O-Matic, one of the manufacturers of these Pennsylvania skill games, challenged the State Police and sought an injunction from the courts to prevent the police from seizing any more of the games they manufacture. They argued that their games do not constitute illegal gambling devices, and base their position on a decision issued in 2014 by a Court of Common Pleas judge in Beaver County. In that decision, the judge concluded that because there is an element of skill involved in the Pace-O-Matic games, they do not constitute illegal gambling. That decision in 2014 led to the wide spread circulation and use of these machines, but has also spurned a lot of copycat machines. Pace-O-Matic was initially granted an injunction by the Court of Common Pleas preventing the state police from seizing any of the machines they manufacture until the issue could further be sorted out in court system.
Continue Reading Pennsylvania Skill Games

One of my memories from childhood is watching my mother build and run her own business. I saw first hand how she lived the job, how seriously she took her responsibilities to her customers and employees, and how she never really stopped thinking about work. It was what she had to do to make the business successful. At the time, I didn’t always enjoy sitting at dinner and listening to my parents discuss the store finances or how to deal with a problem employee; however, I now realize that I was learning by just listening and it has helped inform my approach to working with small business owners and understanding what it takes to establish and maintain a successful business. I know how hard small business owners work. There can be so much focus on building the business and running it day to day that people often forget to address what happens when they no longer want to keep it going or can no longer work at the same pace. I don’t mean what happens when a business fails. What happens when a business succeeds? How do you transition it to the next owner? How do you protect the legacy you’ve worked hard to build?
Continue Reading What happens when a business succeeds? Estate planning for business owners.

Lancaster County has a lot of multi-generational family businesses. You’ve probably seen countless articles like this one highlighting the “tsunami of change.” And if you’ve taken the time to read any of these articles, you’ve learned that the businesses that flourish in the second or third (or later) generations are successful largely because of the way they planned for the future. These succession plans have a number of things in common.

Photo by Hunters Race on Unsplash


Continue Reading Lessons Learned from Business Transition Planning

One of the most common issues I am asked about is what a small business can do about online criticism. Here are five practical tips any business can use to help manage their online reputation.

  1. Know What is Being Said About You

To effectively manage your online reputation, you need to know what is being said about your business. Keep an eye on the platforms that matter most to you. For a professional services business like mine, that means watching platforms like LinkedIn. But for other businesses Facebook, Twitter, or Amazon might be more important. And almost every business benefits from keeping an eye on Google’s reviews.

And try to keep an eye on what is being said in the news because many online newspapers allow comments to be posted after articles. We use Google Alerts to get automatic email notifications when our firm or attorneys are mentioned online.

  1. Respond, But Remember You Cannot Argue with Crazy

It is important not to ignore online criticism. But you also cannot argue with a crazy customer. Remember that the primary purpose of responding to an online critique is not to resolve that customer’s situation (more on that below). The purpose is so the rest of the world reading the criticism can see you responded in an empathetic and respectful manner. Use some form of “we are sorry to hear you had a bad experience,” but do not use a stock response. Craft each response based upon the criticism leveled. That shows you are aware of the concern and care about it.
Continue Reading Five Practical Tips for Responding to Online Criticism

This is the final installment of a three-part series outlining the topics of discussion from our presentation to the Southern Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, October 10.

Last week, Brandon Harter and I had the pleasure of presenting to a full house of Southern Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce members at the Quarryville Library. Thank you to all who attended and we enjoyed a friendly competition and lively discussion of various ways that technology law impacts every small business in 2019.

If you were unable to attend or if you’d like a brief summary of what was discussed, here’s additional information on three of the discussion topics from the event:
Continue Reading Expecting the Unexpected: Technology Law Issues for Every Small Business – Part 3