The city will soon stop funding a quasi-governmental agency that provides financial aid to minority businesses, moving the services to other city departments or agencies.

For 35 years, the Philadelphia Commercial Development Corp. has provided financial support to neighborhood businesses and start-ups. The bulk of its money comes from state and federal grant money provided through the city.

Soon after June 30, the city will no longer be providing funds to PCDC. But officials said that the two core functions of PCDC, commercial development and small business lending, will continue.

Development will be carried on through the city Commerce Department, which already has a commercial-corridors program. Lending will likely be moved to the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp., said Kevin Dow, deputy commerce director.

Much of PCDC's dollars come from federal community-development block grants. That funding will now be used to support the city programs, Dow said.

Dow said that some PCDC workers may be eligible for new city jobs after the changeover, but he acknowledged that not all the staffers will get jobs.

Dow stressed that the city's goal was to streamline operations to make things easier for businesses. And he said that the focus on minority and small business will stay.

"These resources are still driven towards minorities and minority-owned companies," Dow said. "We will not lose that emphasis. That overall mission of the organization will remain."

Because PCDC is an independent nonprofit, its board must decide whether the agency will continue in some other form. But without city support, PCDC will not remain the same, President Aqil Sabur said.

Sabur said that he was saddened because he had worked to revamp PCDC over the past two years after the agency drew some negative headlines several years ago, including criticism for installing faulty security cameras on 54th Street between Berks Street and Montgomery Avenue.

"We were making significant strides with our board and with our staff to remedy the previous criticism," Sabur said.

Sabur said that PCDC has 24 staffers, many of whom have worked at the agency for their entire professional careers. Of the mood at PCDC, he said: "Somber is the best term I can use." *