Boarded up storefronts are proliferating around Philadelphia

It’s harsh out there.

In March, more than 10.2 million Americans filed for unemployment, including a record-smashing 6.6 million in the last week alone. Per Dept. of Labor data, Pennsylvania was second only to California in volume of filings, with almost 406,000 claims — contributing to a commonwealth total of nearly 1 million over the past couple of weeks.

A lot of those people worked for small businesses forced to shutter under lockdown mandates.

There are a few emergency resources to help keep these smaller companies afloat. Some opportunities are funded by government agencies, others come from private industry and nonprofit foundations.

The swirl of grants, loans and other opportunities can be confusing to navigate — especially for proprietors also struggling to maintain some semblance of operations.

To help, we’ve compiled a guide to seven options for companies trying to hold on as coronavirus closures threaten to crush the local economy.

Here’s how Philly business owners can apply for emergency relief in the wake of COVID-19.

Federal stimulus loans

Who can apply: Businesses with less than 500 employees, sole proprietorships, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals
How much you can get: Up to $10M, depending on payroll costs
Application deadline: June 30, 2020

One of the major provisions in the stimulus package passed by Congress provides low-interest business loans of up to $10 million.

With some stipulations, these loans are available to nearly all businesses with 500 employees or fewer — and some larger companies, too. Businesses can borrow 250% of their average monthly payroll expenses to cover up to eight weeks of payroll, according to guidelines from the Senate.

Officially called the Paycheck Protection Program, the loans are administered by the U.S. Small Business Association, or SBA, and amounts depend on how much businesses paid their employees during the first two months of this year.

The loan has a two year maturity and a 0.5% interest rate, and applies retroactively to costs incurred between Feb. 15 and June 30. Lenders can start processing loan applications this Friday, Apr. 3.

The SBA will forgive up to 100 percent of the loan’s principal if it’s used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest or utilities, according to the Paycheck Protection Program info page. Loan payments will also be deferred for six months, the government has said.

Contact the SBA to find an area lender. Philadelphia SCORE and the Women’s Business Enterprise Center East can provide local SBA assistance. Here’s a sample application form to review what you’ll need to apply.

SBA disaster loans

Who can apply: Small businesses according to terms outlined by this chart
How much you can get: Up to $2 million depending on an assessment of economic injury
Application deadline: Dec. 21, 2020

Small businesses and nonprofits throughout the U.S. are now eligible to receive an economic injury disaster loan, or EIDL, of up to $2 million through the Small Business Administration.

Businesses can use a special SBA tool or guidelines outlined in this chart to calculate whether enterprises qualify as small businesses. If eligible, business owners can receive a 3.75% interest loan. Nonprofits can receive loans at 2.75% interest.

And, in the midst of the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government is offering small businesses a $10k loan advance that doesn’t have to be repaid. The advance is available until Dec. 31.

Head to the SBA COVID-19 loan page for more info and to apply.

Express business loans from the SBA

Who can apply: Small businesses that currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender
How much you can get: $25,000
Application deadline: Mar. 13, 2021

To supplement EIDL loans, the SBA is authorized to express loans of up to $25k to businesses in disaster zones. Because of COVID-19, that means businesses in all 50 states and U.S. territories are eligible to receive the express loans.

These loans are designed to supplement an “urgent need for cash while waiting for decision and disbursement on Economic Injury Disaster Loan.”

To find the nearest SBA District Office, head here. For more information on how to apply, head here.

PA Small business grant from Citizens Bank

Who can apply: Citizens Bank business banking account holders with less than $5 million in revenue.
How much you can get: 
Application deadline:
Apr. 10 at 5 p.m.

Citizens Bank is doling out $585k worth of $15k grants to small businesses and non-profits in the Greater Philadelphia Area that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The grants will be distributed to 135 businesses nationally.

If you: 1) have held a business banking account at Citizens since Feb. 14, 2020, 2) own a business with less than $5 million in revenue, and 3) have been operating your business since at least April 1, 2018, you could qualify.

Applicants have to write no more than 150 words detailing how the grant will “assist their workforce in recovering from the effects of ” coronavirus, the website says.

Learn more and apply here.

Microbusiness grant from Philadelphia

Who can apply: Businesses with less than $500,000 in revenue.
How much you can get: $5,000
Application deadline: Grants will be determined on a rolling basis as funding becomes available.

The Philadelphia COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund was a $9 million grant and loan initiative for micro and traditional small business enterprises.

Just one week after the initiative launched, Philly officials were forced to close applications for two tiers of its small business relief efforts because of high demand and limited resources, the city said.

The fund’s third tier, a $5k grant for microbusinesses with less than $500k in annual revenue, remains open as resources are available.

To qualify, your business has to be within city limits. Applications are reviewed weekly and upon approval, business owners can expect to receive funds within two business days, according to the city. Apply here.

William Penn grants for childcare providers

Who can apply: Licensed child care, family child care homes, pre-k, early intervention and home visiting programs
How much you can get: $20,000
Application deadline: Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis

The William Penn Foundation and Vanguard launched a $7 million grant program, distributed by Philly’s Reinvestment Fund, for Philadelphia pre-k, daycare and other early childhood education programs. The application opens on April 6, according to a Reinvestment Fund spokesperson, and grant recipients will receive tiered grants of up to $20k on a rolling basis.

Business owners are encouraged to sign up online to be notified when the funding round opens, the spokesperson said.

To qualify, applicants must demonstrate they’re retaining and paying staff, even if they’re closed.

Grants will be distributed to 1) sustain businesses facing revenue loss, 2) help with new operating costs like childcare for essential workers, and 3) help cover future operating costs, like expenses associated with reopening, for example.

For more info and to apply, head here.

Low-interest loans from Philly’s Enterprise Center

Who can apply: Philadelphia-based small businesses with at least one employee
How much you can get: Up to $250,000 depending on business revenue.
Application deadline: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until all funds have been distributed

The Enterprise Center is a Philadelphia nonprofit that supports minority entrepreneurs and small business owners.

The center is offering a tiered, 1% interest COVID-19 relief loan of up to $100k for businesses that, among other things, are based in the city, have been operating for at least six months prior to the coronavirus pandemic, have at least one employee and have a documented hardship.

Small businesses with up to $50k in revenue can receive a $20k loan. Businesses with $250k in revenue can receive the highest loan amount of $100k.

To begin the application process, head here.

Construction loans for POC-owned businesses

Who can apply: Any construction business owned and operated by what are classified as “ethnic minorities” working on a contract(s)
How much you can get: Up to $50,000
Application deadline: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until all funds have been distributed

The Enterprise Center also launched a loan for minority-owned construction businesses with help from a $350k grant from Brandywine Realty Trust,

Called the Grow Philadelphia Capital Initiative, the fund will grant low-interests loans of up to $50k to people of color-owned construction businesses in the Philly area.

To start the application process, head here.

Verizon + LISC small biz grants

Who can apply: Businesses facing pressure from COVID-19 shutdowns, especially minority and women-owned businesses
How much you can get: $10,000
Application deadline: Apr. 4, 2020

The Local Initiatives Support Corporation or LISC has partnered with Verizon to distribute up to $5 million worth of $10k grants to small businesses around the country. Priority will be given to minority and women-owned businesses, and businesses in underserved communities.

The grants may be used for: rent and utilities, payroll expenses, outstanding debts to vendors and other immediate operational costs.

Verizon is organizing its Pay It Forward Live quarantine-style concert series, streaming on the telecommunication corporation’s Twitter account and on Yahoo! Entertainment. The event kicked off on March 26 with a concert from Dave Matthews.

Viewers are encouraged to nominate their favorite small businesses for grant opportunities by tagging them during the 30-minute concerts.

Award recipients will be announced on April 13, a spokesperson said.

Applications aren’t open yet. For more information, head here. Apply here.

Additional opportunities

Several Philadelphia organizations maintain small business loan programs that aren’t geared toward COVID-19 relief specifically. The City of Philadelphia shared a list of those organizations.

The City’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy compiled a list of financial resources, organizing resources and jobs for artists.

And this WordPress blog lists COVID-19 emergency funding sources for freelancers and artists.

Layla A. Jones (she/her) was a general assignment reporter for Billy Penn from 2019 to 2021. Her work has helped underserved community organizations, earned free repairs for property owners who sustained...