Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday announced the creation of a $60 million fund to lend money to small businesses that have been hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program, businesses with fewer than 100 employees worldwide can apply for loans up to $100,000. The program is designed to pay for operating expenses rather than for investments in property and machinery.

The three-year loans are interest-free for all businesses except for agricultural producers, who must pay 2 percent interest. No payments are required in the first year, and a balloon payment is due at the end of the term.

To be eligible, business owners must be current on all federal, state, and local taxes.

All applications must be made through local economic development authorities, such as the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. in Philadelphia. Loans are expected to be available this week, Wolf said.

“NFIB is thankful that the state is stepping up to help small businesses with critical cash flow problems now. Clearly, there’s a shared recognition of the essential role small businesses play in our economy and will play in our recovery,” said Rebecca K. Oyler, Pennsylvania legislative director for the National Federation of Independent Business.