City offers micro-loans to small businesses affected by coronavirus lockdown

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — City of Memphis leaders are hoping two new loan programs will be able to help local businesses that are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Business owners will be able to start applying for one of the new loans Tuesday.

The Economich Hardship Emergency Loan offers $2,000 to $5,000 with no interest for six months. To qualify, businesses cannot have more than $1 million in annual revenue.

In May, businesses can apply for the Small Business Resiliency Fund, which offers loans from $5,000 to $35,000 with no repayment for 90 days.

Both of these programs were announced Monday after businesses across the city shut down or saw a drop in business during the last three weeks.

“It would really help,” said Vorklend Washington, who owns Encore Security and Sweepy Klean Cleaners.

The loan information was new to Washington, but she said she’d consider applying.

“That cash would help me to keep my businesses open because at this time, it is time to renew licenses, go back to the state and redo all these different things, and without that cashflow, then we can’t do that,” Washington said.

“Business was doing good; now we don’t have any business,” said Jetona Branch, owner of a Spikner, a screen-printing and embroidery business.

Branch said she had no choice but to lay off all 12 Spikner employees after Mayor Jim Strickland announced the city’s Safer at Home order in March.

“We can’t go long at all like this, so hopefully we figure out a cure,” Branch said.

Applicants for either loan must have been in business for at least three years. The business must also be certified by the city’s Office of Business Diversity and Compliance.

Apply by calling the city at 901-636-9300.

Small Business Resiliency (SBR) will offer loans between $5,000 to $35,000, with repayment delayed for 90 days. The business must have been previously denied for an SBA loan, located in a distressed community in Memphis, in business at least three years and certified with the city’s Office of Business Diversity and Compliance.

Economic Hardship Emergency (EHE) will offer loans of $2,000 to $5,000 with no interest for six months. Businesses and owners must be within Memphis, with less than $1 million in annual revenue, in business for at least three years and certified by the OBCD.

Neighborhood Emergency Economic Development (NEED), a joint city-county program run by EDGE, would offer loans between $5,000 and $10,000 to businesses that remain open, with at least a 25% reduction in revenue and a plan to stay open for 90 days; and $5,000 for businesses that are temporarily closed but have a plan to reopen within 90 days. Businesses must be located in the New Market Tax Credit Zones, open before March 1, 209 and have revenue of less than $1 million.

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