Credit: Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital

Update: Due to what Mayor Kenney called “overwhelming demand,” the deadline to submit applications for the $25k grants and $100k zero-interest loans is Monday, Mar. 30, at 5 p.m.

With the local economy at a screeching halt, Philadelphia government agencies have launched a relief fund for small businesses crippled by the ongoing global pandemic.

Stocked with $9.25 million, the COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund is designed to help businesses stay afloat, retain as many employees as possible and avoid the snares of predatory lenders.

Entrepreneurs and biz owners who oversee operations with up to $5 million in annual revenue can apply for a mix of grants and zero-interest loans.

The three tiers of relief you can apply for are:

  • $5,000 microgrants for businesses on the smaller of the small side with $500k  or less in annual revenue
  • $25,000 emergency grants for businesses that pull in between $500k and $3 million annually
  • $100,000 zero-interest loans for businesses in the $3 to $5 million annual revenue bracket

Beyond the revenue brackets, there are other considerations the city will make when awarding the money — like whether the applicant sustains jobs in a low-income community, and how much of their business has been lost as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. The barrier for consideration, according to the application, is a loss of 50% or more.

City officials said they’re trying for a quick turnaround on processing applications for the financial relief.

“We’ll anticipate that businesses can hear back within a week to 10 days,” said Sylvie Gallier Howard, the city’s acting commerce director.

The business relief fund is separate from the previously announced PHL COVID-19 Fund, which is a philanthropic effort helmed by the Philadelphia Foundation to funnel aid to local nonprofits and social service agencies during the outbreak.

The seed money comes largely from the city and its quasi-governmental real estate arm, the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, which is administering the fund. PIDC will continue to run its existing financial aid programs, according to director Anne Nevins.

“We are sending a message to the entrepreneurs and small business owners, and all the people who work for them,” Nevins said, “that we will do all that we can to support them during this unprecedented situation.”

Max Marin (he/him) was Billy Penn's investigative reporter from 2018 to 2021. A graduate of Temple University, he has produced award-winning journalism on local politics, criminal justice, immigration...