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March 23, 2020

Philly launches COVID-19 small business relief fund with more than $9 million available

Commerce department, PIDC team up on economic package for those impacted by coronavirus

Business Coronavirus
Small Business Philly COVID-19 Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

The Philadelphia COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund will provide grants and zero-interest loans to businesses hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. Businesses that apply for this relief will be evaluated on a rolling basis, officials said.

Philadelphia will be distributing grants and zero-interest loans throughout the city to small businesses that have been impacted by the coronavirus, officials announced Monday afternoon.

The Commerce Department and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation have teamed up to launch the COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund.

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"We are acutely aware of the potentially devastating impact that the spread of COVID-19 is having on small businesses in Philadelphia and around the country," Mayor Jim Kenney said. "These businesses are the backbone of our city's economy, and this fund will help some of our small businesses survive the COVID-19 crisis while also retaining as many jobs for workers as possible."

The grant and loan program will operate in tiers, providing funds from a pool of more than $9 million currently available to applicants. Businesses seeking relief will submit applications to be reviewed on a rolling basis. Those that qualify will receive assistance based on where they align with the following criteria:

• Microenterprise Grants — $5,000 per business for businesses with less than $500,000 in annual revenue.

• Small Business Grants — Up to $25,000 per business for businesses with annual revenue between $500,000 and $3 million.

• Small Business Zero-Interest Loan — Up to $100,000 per business for businesses with annual revenue between $3 million and $5 million.

Acting Commerce Director Sylvie Gallier Howard said businesses can expect a wait of between 7-10 days for their applications to be processed. Once approved, funds will be dispersed through electronic transfer, as soon as possible.

Priority will be given to businesses that demonstrate losses of more than 50% of average revenues, have plans for recovery, and show commitments to retaining their employees as long as possible, Gallier Howard said.

"Philadelphia's business community has been severely impacted, and we must do everything in our power to ensure that capital continues to flow to small businesses during this critical time," Gallier Howard said. "Acting quickly will help get businesses the funding they need to continue operations and preserve jobs."

Businesses are encouraged to submit applications here and will find the necessary forms available in English, Spanish and Chinese. 

Among those hardest hit by the pandemic include restaurants, child care centers, retail, hospitality and tourism, according to results from a city survey, Gallier Howard said. Some businesses reported suffering losses of more than 80%, many of them with five or fewer employees. 

PIDC President Anne Bovaird Nevins said her organization will continue to its existing lending programs for small and midsize businesses on flexible terms to provide working capital, fund contract receivables, refinance high-interest debt, and meet other needs. These programs may also be available to those who apply for relief from the COVID-19 fund. 

"Our team stands ready to put these much-needed resources to work and help as many people as we can as quickly as possible," Bovaird Nevins said. 

Additionally, businesses are eligible to apply for Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loans. 

Philly COVID-19 cases at 175; including 21 health care workers

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley updated the total number of people testing positive for COVID-19 to 175 as of Monday afternoon, an increase of 79 people that includes positive tests from over the weekend. Of those who have tested positive, 14 are hospitalized and 21 are known to be health care workers. 

Farley said there is a shortage of testing supplies and laboratory capacity, noting that the city will be clearer and tighter with its criteria for testing as long as these shortages persist. To measure the spread of the virus, the city will also rely on numbers of hospital emergency room visits related to coronavirus symptoms. 

Kenney added that the city will continue to urge Philadelphia residents to comply with the stay-at-home order that took effect Monday. In struggling communities, law enforcement will continue to advise residents about social distancing and will monitor social media for any signs of illegal "flash" gatherings, which would be broken up by police. 

"This is not an exact science," Kenney said. "It's up to people to have personal responsibility, to understand that if their selfishness drives them outside, they're going to be responsible for someone else's death."