Bringing small local businesses back.
As businesses set to reopen, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce launched “Bring Back Brooklyn Fund,” an initiative set up on Tuesday, May 5 to raise funds to help save neighborhood businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since it launched, more than 260 people, corporate donors and Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) have raised over $57,000.
In total, the fund now has more than $187,400 on hand.
Randy Peers, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, talked to this paper about the strides Bring Back Brooklyn has made to reach its $500,000 goal.
“We launched this fund to really capitalize on no interest loan program for really small businesses that get shut out of commercial financing and in Brooklyn, there are just plenty of neighborhood mom and pop businesses that don’t have formal banking relationships with deep reserves,” he said. “These are the businesses that may or may not have gotten some sort of government support in terms of paycheck protection or something else. But they can’t access financing elsewhere.”
Since 2017, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce has been providing microloans to these businesses, ranging from $500 to a maximum of about $30,000. Now with phase one set to take place on June 8 and businesses look to restart, many of them need help to survive.
“They need PPE equipment, they have to restock inventory or pay bills which have been accumulating for a couple of months,” Peers explained. “This is a flexible loan fund. Our goal is to raise a half million dollars. We’ve raised to date 187,000 so we are about of the third of the way there . We have until the end of June which is when we are going to close out the campaign. We will probably start to look at taking recovery loan applications in a couple of weeks so we really want this to be used for businesses that are reopening and restarting.”
Phase one of reopening the city includes construction, agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting,
retail (Limited to curbside or in-store pickup or drop off), manufacturing, and wholesale trade/
The initiative has also corporate donations from AT&T and Investors Bank.
“I feel good about the campaign,” he said. “Most of the contributions have come from small donors. Brooklynites. Some give $25, $50, $100 because they care about their neighborhood small businesses. And want to see them come back.”
Peers added that he is encouraged by the progress that is due to locals wanting their favorite local businesses to stick around.
“I think it demonstrates the true spirit of Brooklyn and Brooklynites,” he explained. “We don’t want to lose the places that make our neighborhood special and maybe we’ve taken them for granted. Our dry cleaner, our bar, our restaurant and barber. Hair salons. Maybe we thought they would always be there and we took it for granted. Now we really need to say, ‘Look, these are the businesses that have supported us all these years. Now we have to support them and here’s a way for us to do it.’ We come together as a community.”
Thus far, The Sunset Park BID that you wrote about has now raised more than $3,700. Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership has raised $6,020. Other BIDs participating in the campaign include the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, DUMBO BID, Parkside Empire/Flatbush Avenue Merchants Association, FAB FULTON, Flatbush Avenue BID, Flatbush Junction BID and Cortelyou Road Merchants Association.
Peers also implored Brooklynites to shop locals when retail opens.
“People need to really shop locally and spend money in their own communities,” he said. “Hopefully one of things that will come out of this crisis in a positive way is that people will begin to really appreciate the value of their local neighborhood business more so than before. Instead of just a couple of clicks on the internet to order things, go and visit the small business. Stop by and show them moral support. Purchase something there and help keep them alive.
65 percent of funds will target Minority and Women-Owned Businesses (MWBEs).
For more information, visit downtownbrooklyn.com/bring-back-brooklyn-fund.