The Bring Back Brooklyn Fund

Brooklyn business owners can finally heave a sigh of relief as the city comes to their rescue.

The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce (BCC) is launching the Bring Back Brooklyn Fund, with Borough President Eric Adams as it’s chair, to support disadvantaged small business owners utterly failed by federal bailouts. 

“This innovative program will deliver much-needed relief where it’s needed most, to businesses that would otherwise slip through the cracks,” said Adams. “At a time when federal programs have proven to be insufficient to the scale of this crisis, Brooklyn has to step up and offer assistance to maintain the vibrancy of our small business community.” 

The fund’s creation is in response to findings that state 84 percent of Brooklyn businesses that applied for the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and 90 percent of Minority and Women-Owned Businesses (MWBEs) had not received funds.

Large and established businesses depleted the PPP within two weeks of the first $349 billion round, leaving an outrageous number of small businesses unable to qualify or receive any money. Banks handed out loans to large commercial clients with existing relationships and bigger payouts, icing out businesses that weren’t likely to be male or white-owned. 

According to David Estrada, executive director of Sunset Park’s Business Improvement District, neighborhoods like Sunset Park are especially hurting because minority and women-run businesses are the core of the Fifth Avenue shopping corridor.

“Small businesses, especially MWBEs that don’t have existing ties to lenders, and or were shut out of federal stimulus programs, need resources immediately to survive,”said Randy Peers, President of BCC. 

The fund plans to give out no-interest loans up to $30,000 for stores, restaurants, and bars. Local companies, banks, and merchant associations are expected to participate in a unique fundraising campaign designed by an online crowdsourcing platform, FundRazr.

On hand, the fund currently has $125,000 and will be administering microloans through the Chamber’s Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) program and Brooklyn Alliance Capital (BAC), which typically offers loans to people who do not qualify for commercial bank loans. 

“COVID-19 has impacted our business immensely,” said Miriam Milord, owner of BCakeNY at 702 Washington Ave in Prospect Heights. “The Bring Back Brooklyn Fund will be so important to MWBE businesses like mine getting back on their feet and restoring the Brooklyn economy.”

BCC unveiled the fund Tuesday and the efforts to raise money for it have begun in earnest, although the loans themselves won’t begin until the city’s economy starts to reopen and more money becomes available through fundraising, said BCC’s representative.

Small businesses do not have to be Chamber members to access the fund. Currently, there is no existing link or mechanism for small businesses to apply for this loan funding.

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