Here’s all the ways that Philly is helping small businesses recover from COVID-19 losses

Closed businesses on 52nd Street in West Philadelphia in March, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and before weeks of protests (Philadelphia Tribune photo).

By Ayana Jones

PHILADELPHIA — Multiple resources are available to help Philadelphia businesses recover from the impact of closures ordered to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus and vandalism by protesters.

City grant and loan programs

The Philadelphia Commerce Department has launched the Restore and Reopen Program to help businesses that experience damage or inventory loss cover the expenses involved in reopening. The city launched the fund with $1.4 million and the commerce department is raising more funds. The program will be administered by the Merchants Fund, and application guidelines will be posted on merchantsfund.org

The Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation has created the Restart PHL Loan Fund to provide flexible, low-cost capital to small businesses with less than $5 million in revenue in historically disadvantaged communities. City officials are specifically focused on helping Black- and Brown-owned businesses on commercial corridors in low-income areas.

Funds from the $3 million Restart PHL Loan Fund can be used to help cover costs associated with improved business resilience or growth, including working capital, fit-up, inventory, technology, mobilization, re-hiring and employee training. City officials plan to release program details and a loan application later this month.

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“These efforts are intended to provide equitable and immediate relief to ensure our small businesses can sustain themselves and return in a manner that allows them to thrive,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a news release.

“Philadelphia businesses, especially those that are minority-owned and on neighborhood commercial corridors, have experienced successive, devastating economic setbacks over the last three months.”

PA 30 Day Fund offers forgivable loans

The PA 30 Day Fund provides forgivable loans to businesses facing hardship because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The fund recently pledged $100,000 to diverse small businesses that have suffered loss due to vandalism and looting from protests against police brutality.

The fund, led by Brown’s Super Stores CEO Jeff Brown and Bellevue Strategies CEO Mustafa Rasheed, gives $3,000 forgivable loans to small business owners who complete an application and submit a video at pa30dayfund.com.

“A lot of small businesses, particularly small minority-owned businesses don’t have what’s required on paper to get loans and grants,” Rasheed said.

“We started to notice that a lot of small minority-owned business were not equipped to apply for the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) or the Economic Injury Disaster Loan so we said needed to be able to help these businesses stay open.”

Brown and Rasheed established the fund on May 7. It already has given grants to more than 100 small businesses, including 57-minority owned businesses and 49 woman-owned businesses.

New insurance support program for small businesses

The PHL Emergency Business Insurance Support Initiative connects small businesses that suffered losses during protests with insurance professionals and volunteer lawyers to help review the businesses’ insurance policies and file claims.

The initiative is a collaboration of City Councilman Allan Domb, the West Philadelphia Corridor Collective (WPCC) and the Barristers Association of Philadelphia.

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Jabari Jones, president of the WPCC said there is a real need for this initiative, particularly since the 52nd Street, 60th Street, Baltimore Avenue, Lansdowne Avenue and Woodland Avenue commercial corridors sustained damages.

“You have a lot of businesses that were generating zero income or businesses that have failed to get into either the city’s grant program or even the federal relief program and to have their store fronts destroyed, to have inventory taken out their stores and not knowing whether their insurance is going to cover the full costs, speaks to that need,” he said.

For information about this program, call 610-304-8529.

Ayana Jones is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.