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Birmingham agency to manage city’s $1.2M small business loan program

African clothing is displayed at Ferrill African Wear in the 4th Avenue District in Birmingham, Ala. (Photo by Mark Almond)
By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times

The City Council today authorized the city to enter into an agreement with the Birmingham Business Resource Center to administer an emergency loan fund for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The $1.2 million small business emergency loan fund, or BhamStrong Fund, is designed to provide zero-interest, 180-day loans to small businesses (less than 50 employees) of no more than $25,000 (with an average loan size of $10,000) to prevent staff reductions and offset losses related to COVID-19.

The Birmingham Business Resource Center, led by its executive director Bob Dickerson, assists entrepreneurs in the development of their businesses.

“The small business community is the lifeline of the city of Birmingham, so I want to thank the mayor and my colleagues for taking an aggressive approach,” said Council President William Parker. “This is just the start of a larger program, we’re going to have to make sure that we address the concerns of the residents and small businesses within the city of Birmingham.”

Last week, the council approved Mayor Randall Woodfin’s request to provide $4 million in emergency funding to police, fire, public works and the loan fund.

“We think this is an aggressive approach to make sure we assist our small businesses during a time where we’re dealing with unchartered waters but we want small businesses to be back up and open,” Parker said.

Councilor Steven Hoyt abstained on the 8-0 vote.

Applications for the BhamStrong Fund are now open and the deadline for the first round of applications is midnight Friday, March 27. Officials say a second round of applications could open if funds are available.

Businesses will be notified on April 3 if their loan application was approved or rejected. Loan documents will be signed, and checks disbursed from April 6 to 15.

Business owners will be required to complete a needs assessment form to provide data regarding their payroll deficiency, sick pay requests/pay and/or substantial revenue loss.

The city has 5,997 small businesses with an estimated 47,000 workers and the goal is to provide stability for the small business owners, their workers and their families during this economic fallout from the pandemic. Some businesses have temporarily closed, some have canceled, or postponed revenue generating events and may have lost customers.

To apply for loans, visit www.bhamstrong.com/bhamstrongloan.