North Central Pennsylvania Regional Assessment of Access to Capital for Businesses
RFP Release Date: October 24, 2022
EXTENSION – Proposal Due Date: Friday, November 25, 2022
by 11:59pm

The North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission (here and after referred to North Central) is a private, non-profit corporation that was organized in 1965 as the designated Local Development District (LDD) for a six-county area in Pennsylvania that includes Cameron, Clearfield, Elk, Jefferson, McKean, and Potter counties. As such, it is responsible for economic and community development initiatives targeted to enhance the quality of life of the people living within the counties that it serves. North Central develops plans, policies, and integrated strategies for transportation, community development, economic development and regional planning activities to soundly manage growth, development and improve quality of life at a regional level.

The Commission has recently adopted a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) and Resiliency Plan for 2022-2026 that has identified four strategic priorities: (1) Infrastructure, (2) Workforce & Entrepreneurship, (3) Natural Resources & Tourism, and (4) Quality of Life. The action plan for workforce & entrepreneurship includes a goal to support small businesses and entrepreneurs to foster local job creation and economic diversification. It is further identified in the plan that a component of this strategy is to determine if programming and resource gaps for small businesses and entrepreneurs exist then collaborate with strategic partners to address these gaps, within capacity and financial constraints.

As a regional economic development organization, North Central seeks to support this initiative by determining if gaps exist in our financial market for access to capital to meet the needs of businesses and entrepreneurs within our region. The Commission further seeks to enhance the design of its Business Finance Program to respond to these unmet opportunities and needs.

To that end, North Central is issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a Regional Assessment of Access to Capital for Businesses. Conducting this study will provide the baseline to effectively adapt the financing strategies and policies of the Commission’s existing and new revolving loan funds and explore additional initiatives to address resource gaps through a comprehensive assessment of the local capital market and financing needs of regional businesses.

North Central seeks proposals from a qualified consultant that possesses planning and policy expertise in economic development finance, revolving loan funds and business development strategies to provide professional and technical planning services. The chosen consultant will develop and implement a Regional Assessment of Access to Capital for Businesses that will provide:
• Insight to the resources available for access to capital for new and existing businesses and
financing gaps/needs that exist in the region
• Recommendations to financing policies that will enhance the design of the Commission’s lending
program and for additional strategic initiatives to address these challenges.

The primary objectives of this project are as follows:
• Identify the current availability of private financing to businesses and entrepreneurs in the North Central Region and prevailing commercial lending policies and restrictions.
• Identify the current availability of public financing/funding to businesses and entrepreneurs in the North Central Region including revolving loan funds/lending programs and their lending policies and restrictions.
• Identify the current availability of other non-traditional sources of funding/financing available to businesses and entrepreneurs in the North Central Region including venture capital, angel investors, tax credits, etc. with their funding policies and restrictions.
• Interview major stakeholders to discuss financing needs and challenges of businesses in the North Central Region.
• Identify underserved industry sectors and geographic locations within the North Central Region with limited access and availability to business capital and credit.
• Develop recommendations to strategies and policies to enhance the design of the Commission’s revolving loan funds that will optimize responsiveness to current and future economic conditions.

Regional Overview
The North Central region is one of the largest geographically in Pennsylvania serving Cameron, Clearfield, Elk, Jefferson, McKean, and Potter counties. The six-county region is 5,080 square miles in size. With an estimated 2020 population of only 217,419, the region is largely rural, yet includes the economic centers of Bradford, DuBois, and St. Marys. It is served primarily by Interstate 80, as well as US 6 and US 219. The City of Bradford at the region’s northern end extends just 80 miles, or a 100-minute drive, from the Peace Bridge and the Canadian border at Buffalo, NY. The region is part of the Pennsylvania Wilds which is approximately 25% of the state`s land acreage. The Allegheny National Forest, at nearly 241,000 acres, is a major natural feature of the region, as it is nearly 610,000 acres of state forest. The region is also served by outstanding water features such as the Clarion River Water Trail and the Susquehanna River Water Trail.

Scope of Work
The scope of work for the Regional Assessment of Access to Capital for Businesses is to include, at a minimum, the tasks listed below. The contract for services is not to exceed $60,000.

Project Management
• North Central will convene a Strategy Committee to guide the planning process.
• The Strategy Committee will be responsible for holding an initial kickoff meeting with the consultant to discuss the scope and schedule, establish responsibilities, and develop a preliminary outreach strategy.
• The consultant will be responsible for guiding the planning process, scheduling Strategy Committee meetings, as well as establishing and meeting key project milestones.
• The consultant shall anticipate a minimum of monthly check-ins with North Central staff to provide updates on progress toward key deliverables.
• The consultant shall anticipate presenting the final document at any or all of the following: Loan Review Committee & PREP/CEDS meetings.

The final product will be a Regional Assessment of Access to Capital for Businesses in the form of a report that should include, at a minimum, the following elements:

  • Executive summary highlighting key findings and takeaways.
  • Final report that includes:
    • Comprehensive list of all private, public and other non-traditional
    financing/funding resources available to businesses and entrepreneurs in the North Central
    Region including financing products offered, eligible uses of funds and locations and
    industry sectors served within the region
    • Discussion of findings from interviews with stakeholders identifying needs and challenges
    specific to businesses and entrepreneurs in the North Central Region:
    o With direct relation to accessing capital
    o With indirect relation to accessing capital – i.e., supply chain and workforce issues
    o This shall be specific for each county and for the North Central region as a whole.
    • Identification of underserved businesses within the North Central Region with limited access
    to available resources available to business capital and credit including but not limited
    o Industry sectors
    o Geographic locations within the North Central Region
    • Resource needs and gaps that exist in access to capital and credit for businesses and
    entrepreneurs in the North Central Region
    • Recommendations to address resource needs and gaps to support the goals and objectives of
    the overall economic development strategy for the six-county region including:
    o Enhancements to policies in the design of the Commission’s revolving loan funds that will optimize responsiveness to current and future economic conditions, with consideration to the need for managing and protecting revolving loan fund capital
  • Additional strategies and initiatives for consideration by the Commission and partners within the regional resource network
  • Recommendations regarding additional issues to be explored and research questions to be answered are encouraged.

Budget and Consultant Selection Process

• Budget
The contract for services is not to exceed $60,000.

Selection Process
o If necessary, up to two prospective consultants may be selected for a short list and each will be requested to participate in a remote zoom interview and presentation to the Selection Committee. A recommendation of the preferred consultant will be made. Upon selection of the preferred consultant, North Central will be authorized to communicate to the selected consultant and begin negotiations.

o The selected consultant will be notified of the decision by the Committee no later than December 9, 2022. Contract negotiations will commence immediately upon notification. A negotiation period will be provided for the selected consultant and North Central to finalize the Scope of Services, Contract Fee, and Agreement. At the end of the negotiation period, the contract shall be awarded. If a negotiated contract cannot be mutually agreed to by both parties, North Central will terminate negotiation and begin negotiations with the second rated firm.

o The selected consultant will be required to prepare project documents in a timely manner and submit monthly status reports indicating work completed to date, upcoming scope activities and any issues that could potentially impact the project schedule. To that end, the consultant will be expected to assign sufficient administrative, planning, design and support staff to complete the Scope of Work within the established and agreed to schedule. It is expected that this project will take approximately 5 months to complete.

ActivityAnticipated Completion
RFP IssuedOctober 24, 2022
Questions/Inquires AcceptedThrough November 4, 2022
North Central Response to Questions/ InquiresThrough November 9, 2022
Proposals Due – EXTENSIONNovember 25, 2022 by 11:59pm
Consultant SelectionDecember 9, 2022
Project CompletionNo later than may 31, 2023

General Submission Requirements
• Inquires:
Any questions or requests for additional information concerning this Request for Proposal and/or the Scope of Work should be directed in writing to Jennifer Hibbard, Loan Program Director, by e-mail at: Inquiries must be made on or before November 4, 2022. Questions associated with this RFP received via phone call will not be responded to or acknowledged. Responses to questions or requests for additional information shall be posted to North Central’s website ( and replies via e-mail shall be made no later than November 9, 2022. It is the responsibility of the consultant to check the website for updates or addendums to this RFP. North Central will accept completed proposals until November 25, 2022, at 11:59pm EDT.

Minimum Qualifications:
Consultants or consortia of consultants will be asked to demonstrate expertise and experience in all skill areas that may be appropriate to the work completed for a Regional Assessment of Access to Capital for Businesses. All RFPs received by North Central will be reviewed and evaluated by a Selection Committee. Responses to this RFP will be evaluated based on the consultant’s responses to all relevant criteria stated in this RFP. Proposals will be evaluated and scored by the Committee utilizing a ranking criterion that will
consist of the following, but not limited to:
• Understanding of desired Scope of Work and proposed approach.
• Proven, relevant experience of the firm.
• Experience, expertise, and qualifications of personnel to be assigned to the project.
• Quality of proposal for public participation/ community outreach efforts.
• Quality of proposal for strategic planning efforts.
• Quality of responses from relevant references and past performance in terms of quality of work
and the timeliness of the accomplishment.
• Completeness of Response to RFP.

Proposals from Consortia, Joint Ventures, and Teams:
Proposal statements from consortia, joint ventures or teams will be accepted. In such cases, a lead firm must be identified for contracting purposes. A qualifications statement must be prepared for each member of the consortia, joint venture, or team, and each qualifications statement should clearly identify the lead firm.

In selecting a lead firm, consortia, joint ventures, and teams should consider the following: (1) the lead firm should have sufficient experience and expertise to conduct or supervise all facets of the proposed project; (2) the lead firm will be legally responsible to North Central for performance of the total contract; (3) the lead firm must have sufficient resources to carry out the contractual responsibilities of the consortium, joint venture or team.

Please note that firms that are subsidiaries or affiliates of another may not rely on the experience, expertise or resources of its parent firm to meet these requirements.

Proposal Requirements and Format:
North Central will select a qualified planning consultant firm or team based on the information outlined below. Qualifying firms or teams must demonstrate experience and expertise in developing Regional Assessment of Access to Capital for Businesses or other similar regional economic or community development plans.

Written proposals should include, at a minimum, the following information:
Letter of Interest:
Please provide a Cover Letter outlining your firm’s desire to assist with our Regional Assessment of Access to Capital for Businesses. Please include a summary of the project, total budget cost, name and contact information of the firm’s authorized representative and project manager. Please also list sub-consultants, if applicable.
Consultant Qualifications & Capabilities:
In no more than two pages, describe the qualifications and capabilities of the firm, team, or individuals as they specifically relate to experience with the proposed Regional Assessment of Access to Capital for Businesses.
Key Personnel Assigned to Project:
Identify specific personnel that will be assigned to the following key roles for the project: Project Manager and Lead Technical Staff members. Personnel identified in the proposal must be the principal staff that will work on the project and represent most hours billed to the project. Resumes shall not exceed 2 pages in length. Project staff must meet all local, state, and federal requirements to perform work.
Technical Approach/Proposed Scope of Work:
Describe the technical approach and proposed Scope of Work that will be used to complete the plan development. Responses should address the proposed Scope of Work and contractors are encouraged to include recommendations.
Cost Proposal & Schedule:
Provide a detailed cost breakdown to complete the tasks outlined in the proposed Scope of Work. The contract for services is not to exceed $60,000. In addition, please provide a project schedule that identifies and tracks each specific task and the anticipated date of key milestones & deliverables. The timeline is flexible as long as the plans are completed and submitted to North Central for final approval no later than May 31, 2023.

North Central`s Regional Assessment of Access to Capital for Businesses will be funded through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development Partnership for Regional Economic Performance. The consultant must consider compliance with all regulations applicable to such plans, and will also be subject to the Terms and Conditions of the PREP grant. Respondents are advised to review all applicable federal and state regulations prior to submitting a proposal.
Past Project Experience:
Include descriptions of comparable projects and provide summaries or reports of related and relevant work completed. Summarize the scope of work performed, why the unique approach to this project was successful, and provide client contact information, if applicable.

Provide three references from comparable types of projects completed over the last five years. Include project names and locations, name of primary client contacts and their contact information including e-mail addresses and telephone numbers. Indicate the role of your firm in each project and each project’s cost and date of completion.
Equal Employment Opportunity Statement:
Please provide a detailed statement describing your Equal Employment Opportunity practices and any statistical employment information that it deems appropriate and relative to the composition of its workforce or its subcontractors.
Insurance Certificates:
Please include a copy of the required insurance certificates listed under Section VIII.

Commitment of Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Goal:
Please provide a letter certifying that you have complied with the DBE goals expressed in the RFP.

Signature Requirements:
Proposals must be signed by a representative of the firm or team having legal authority to contract on behalf of the firm or team. Proposals will be treated as bona fide offers and must remain open for a period of ninety (90) days from the closing date for submissions.

Submission of Proposals:
North Central is requiring all proposals to be submitted via email. North Central will accept completed proposals until November 15, 2022, at 11:59pm EDT. All proposals shall be emailed with the following in the subject line: “[Firm Name]’s North Central Regional Assessment of Access
to Capital for Businesses”
. Please e-mail proposals to Jennifer Hibbard at

This “Request for Proposals” and all subsequent addenda and revisions will be made available at All prospective applicants should continue to check the website for any changes to the RFP.

General Terms and Conditions
Compliance with Local, State & Federal Laws
All respondents shall comply with all applicable local, state and federal laws and regulations. As this plan will be funded through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development Partnership for Regional Economic Performance, the respondent shall review all applicable regulations, terms and conditions prior to submitting a response. Any contracts awarded pursuant to this Request for
Qualifications will contain provisions required by the federal and state funding sources, as appropriate.

Disadvantaged, Minority & Women Business Enterprises (DBE/MBE/ WBE) Requirement
North Central takes all necessary affirmative steps to assure that Minority Businesses Enterprises (MBE), Women’s Businesses Enterprises (WBE) and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) are used when possible. Although this project does not stipulate a required compliance target, North Central will make every effort to consider awarding the contract to a qualified DBE/MBE/WBE firm.

In the case of proposals submitted from Consortia, Joint Ventures and Teams, lead firms should consider the use of DBE/MBE/WBE firms. Proposals must clearly identify the DBE/MBE/SBE firm, the role the DBE/MBE/WBE will play in the project and the tasks assigned to the DBE/MBE/WBE. Proof of DBE/MBE/WBE certification must be submitted with the proposal. Responses that fail to provide proof of DBE/MBE/WBE certification and description of project involvement will be deemed incomplete.

Equal Employment and Nondiscrimination
All contracts awarded under this RFP are subject to all other applicable state and federal laws concerning civil rights, nondiscrimination and equal opportunities for employment. All the potential companies must demonstrate a commitment to the effective implementation of an affirmative action plan or policy on equal employment opportunity. The potential company must ensure equal employment opportunity to all persons and not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, physical disability, mental disorder, ancestry, marital status, criminal record, or political beliefs. The company must uphold and operate in compliance with Executive Order 11246 and
as amended in Executive Order 11375, Title VI and VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964 , the Equal employment Opportunity Act of 1972, the Fair Employment Practices Act, and the American with Disabilities Act of 1990. In response to this RFP, companies should furnish a detailed statement describing their Equal Employment Opportunity practices and any statistical employment information that it deems appropriate, relative to the composition of its work force or its subcontractors.

Freedom of Information
Respondents are advised that all materials submitted in response to this RFP shall become the sole property of North Central and shall be subject to the provisions of Pennsylvania General Statutes (re: Freedom of Information).

Right to Cancel
North Central reserves the right to cancel this RFP at any time, elect to award portions of the Scope of Work, and/or decide not to consider any or all of the respondents submitting information in response to this request.

Cost of Preparing Proposal
All costs associated with any response to this RFP, including the development of costs and participation in the selection process, are the sole responsibility of the respondent firms. North Central will not reimburse any firms for such costs nor will any successful firms be permitted to negotiate such costs as part of any contract or agreement with North Central.

Any firm selected to perform any or all work associated with this RFP will be required to execute an agreement with North Central and meet any conditions on use of funds imposed by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development Partnership for Regional Economic Performance. All fees will be negotiated and stated in the agreement.

Insurance Requirements
Insurance certificates are required with responses to this RFP. Insurance certificates must be provided in the bid application, documenting coverage for the following:

  1. Worker’s Compensations and Employers Liability in accordance with State of Pennsylvania Requirements.
  2. Public Liability Insurance: Comprehensive General Liability, (bodily injury, personal injury,
    and property damage liability) including company’s contingent Completed operations and
    contractual liability with a minimum:
    • $1,000,000 each occurrence
    • $1,000,000 personal and advertising injury
    • $1,000,000 general aggregate; and
    • $1,000,000 products/completed operations aggregate

The company shall carry and maintain in full force and effect for the duration of any contract resulting from this RFP, appropriate insurance. The company agrees to protect and defend, indemnify, and hold the North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission and the six counties of Cameron, Clearfield, Elk, Jefferson, McKean and Potter, demands and causes of action of every kind and character including the amount of judgments, penalties, interest, court costs, and legal fees incurred by North Central or the counties in defense of same, arising in favor of taxes, claims, liens, debts, personal injuries including employees of the counties or North Central, death or damages to property (including property of North Central or the counties) and without limitations by enumeration, all other claims, or demands of every character occurring and caused in whole or in part by any negligent act or omission of the company, any one directly or indirectly employed by the company or anyone for whose acts company may be liable regardless of whether or not it is caused in part by North Central or their member counties. The company will designate and provide North Central and counties with the identity of a person or persons in the company’s employ who shall be responsible for handling claims from the public efficiently and expeditiously. Policies shall be issued by an insurance company authorized to do business in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
• Insurance similar to that required by the company shall be provided by or on behalf of all
subcontractors to cover its operation(s) performed under this contract and included in all
• All other insurance requirements would remain in effect.
• All insurance certificates must name North Central as additional insured on the policy. Said
Certificate must state that coverage cannot be cancelled or materially altered without thirty (30)
days written notice to North Central.

In addition, the proposer shall, at all times, save, indemnify and hold harmless North Central, its officers, agents, employees and servants from liability of any nature or kind, including costs and expenses for or on account of, any patented or copyrighted equipment, materials, articles, or processes used in the performance of this contract, or on account of any and all claims, damages, losses, litigation expense and counsel fees arising out of loss or injuries (including death) sustained by or alleged to have been sustained by the public or any persons affected by the proposer’s work, or by the proposer or any subcontractor, or anyone directly or indirectly employed by them while engaged in the performance of their duties in connection with this contract.

By responding, the firm implicitly states: that his/her proposal has not been made in connection with any other competing firm submitting a separate response to this RFP; is in all respects fair; and has been submitted without collusion or fraud. It is further implied that the firm did not participate in the RFP development process, had no knowledge of the specific contents of the RFP before its issuance, and that no employee of North Central either directly or indirectly assisted in the vendor’s proposal preparation.

Form of Contract
North Central anticipates that this procurement will be a cost reimbursement contract based on monthly reports. Consulting fees shall be paid upon satisfactory completion of work tasks. Selected consultant must provide documentation of work to include providing copies of receipts and expenses for work performed. Invoicing is done on a monthly basis.

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