Working toward a solution to help local small businesses

PHOTO: Jack Tomczuk

It’s been a challenging time for small businesses in Philadelphia.

Throughout the city, businesses have taken a substantial hit due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a situation that continues to plague locally owned stores even as the city enters the Yellow Phase of reopening. Then, months of being forced to close shop for health concerns was followed by civil unrest as protests evolved into looting and vandalism in various Philadelphia neighborhoods. 

Hundreds of businesses—many located in historically disadvantaged neighborhoods—were devastated by stolen inventory and vandalism, adding to the already challenging financial hardships owners are facing. 

To offer some much needed aid, the City of Philadelphia recently announced opportunities for local small businesses to receive additional resources and support to help them rebound and open their doors once again.

Restore and Reopen Program

A new grant program is available thanks to a partnership between the Commerce Department and Merchants Fund to reach businesses greatly impacted by recent looting and vandalism. According to the Mayor’s Office of Communications, “The new grant program is dedicated to helping businesses in historically disadvantaged communities that experienced damage or inventory loss from the recent civil unrest to cover expenses needed to recover and reopen.”

The city announced $1.4 million in funding for this initiative. Application guidelines are available for perusal at merchantsfund.org 

Restart PHL Loan Fund

City officials also announced $3 million for the Restart PHL Loan Fund, created by Philadelphia’s economic development corporation, PIDC. According to a release, “this loan program provides flexible low-cost capital to small businesses with less than $5 million in revenue for costs associated with improved business resilience or growth, including working capital, fit-up, inventory, technology, mobilization, re-hiring and employee training.” 

The fund is meant to focus on Black-and Brown-owned businesses located on commercial corridors in disadvantaged communities. A loan application will be released within the next two weeks.  

“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,” said Mayor Jim Kenney in a 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. We thank the Merchants Fund for partnering with us on this effort and are especially appreciative of the continued work of Congressman Dwight Evans in advocating for additional relief.”

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