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New fund offers lifeline to small Brooklyn businesses

The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce is launching the “Bring Back Brooklyn Fund” to rescue beloved neighborhood small businesses hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic and revamp the borough’s economy.

The Bring Back Brooklyn Fund will provide no interest loans up to $30,000 for everyday Brooklyn neighborhood businesses impacted by COVID-19  – retail stores, restaurants, bars, coffeeshops, hair salons, daycare centers, gyms – that are operating amid the shutdown or plan to reopen when the shutdown is lifted. 65 percent of funds will target Minority and Women-Owned Businesses (MWBEs).

The creation of the fund is in response to a recent Chamber survey released in April that found 84 percent of Brooklyn businesses that applied for the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) had not received funds, and 90 percent of MWBEs that applied for PPP had not received funds.

The Bring Back Brooklyn Fund will be administered through the Chamber’s Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) program, Brooklyn Alliance Capital (BAC), which offers micro loans to Brooklyn small businesses that typically do not qualify for commercial bank loans.

The Chamber is leveraging the support of everyday Brooklynites plus top industry leaders and organizations from across the borough to help raise money for the fund, including companies, banks, Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), merchant associations and local development corporations (LDCs). Each participating organization will have its own unique fundraising campaign hub powered by FundRazr, and all funds raised by them will be earmarked for businesses in their neighborhoods. Donations made to Brooklyn Alliance Capital, a 501(c)(3) organization, are tax deductible.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is Chairing the Bring Back Brooklyn Fund, and a range of Brooklyn business boosters have already pledged to raise money.

“In 2008 Main Street bailed out Wall Street. Today, who is going to bail out Main Street?” said Randy Peers, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President and CEO. “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.”

“So many of Downtown Brooklyn’s businesses are closed or treading water amid the COVID-19 response,” said Regina Myer, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. “In the weeks and months ahead, the Bring Back Brooklyn Fund will be critical to reestablishing Brooklyn as a world class center for business and commerce.”

“Brooklyn is a borough known for being tough and strong,” said Jim Munson, owner of Brooklyn Roasting Company in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. “Responding to COVID-19 means we need to be as tough and strong as we’ve ever been, and the Bring Back Brooklyn Fund ensures businesses have the resources they need to do that.”

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