(Photo via Wikimedia Commons)
Update: On March 30, the City announced that because of “extraordinary demand,” that at 5 p.m. today, “applications will only be accepted and reviewed from businesses applying for Microenterprise Grants of $5,000. Applications for Small Business Grants and Zero-Interest Loans will no longer be accepted.”
The City of Philadelphia’s Department of Commerce and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) have partnered to create the COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund to help small businesses survive the public health crisis, it announced Monday.
The release of the Fund comes the same day the City issued a stay-at-home order, meaning all residents must remain home or at their place of residence unless they are “engaged in essential personal activities that are spelled out in the order” — things like seeking medical care or buying groceries. The City is no longer suggesting folks stay at home, it’s mandating it.
The Small Business Relief Fund, which has an online application, is aiming to provide financial relief, prevent layoff of employees, help businesses avoid predatory lenders, and maintain the provision of goods and services for the City. About 2,500 businesses responded to a survey circulated by the city last week, said Sylvie Gallier Howard, first deputy commerce director at the Department of Commerce.
A large portion of respondents said that they’ve lost about 80% of businesses in recent days, Gallier Howard said, many of which in industries like retail, childcare, hospitality and food service.
The Fund consists of three relief programs, a mix of grants and loans varying in size depending on a business’ revenue: under $500,000, between $500,000 and $3 million, and between $3 million and $5 million. Business owners in these categories can apply for the Microenterprise Grant (up to $5,000), the Small Biz Grant (up to $25,000) or the Small Biz Zero-Interest loan ($25,000 to $100,000), depending on their status, respectively.
Those applying for the relief fund must submit documents such as a signed tax return, a description of the impact COVID-19 is having on their business, cash flow needs and proof of insurance. Businesses can apply once to the fund, and will be considered for all three programs.
The review committee for the fund will look at a handful of factors, the City said. It will prioritize businesses that have lost about 50% of their revenue because of the pandemic, those that employ low-income individuals, those that have a likelihood of remaining open after the pandemic, and those that have been in operation for more than two years.
Company leaders applying for the Fund can expect to hear from the review committee in about five to 10 business days, Gallier Howard said. The committee is reviewing applications on a rolling basis.
When asked Monday about the general economic impact on the city, Mayor Jim Kenney said it will depend on what sort of support the City gets from the state or federal government.
“We have enough in reserve now,” he said, but the future is less sure.
The City has also put together a growing list of resources for business owners.
Do you plan to apply for the COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund? Do you think it goes far enough to support local businesses during the coronavirus pandemic? Tell us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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