Small businesses weigh options with loan programs as the Memphis economy takes hit amid health crisis

Updated: Apr. 13, 2020 at 10:59 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Did you make less than one million dollars in revenue last year? Are you in a distressed neighborhood or denied an SBA loan?

You could qualify for a loan from the city as they try to save businesses with steep declining revenue.

The Restaurant “Trap Fusion” just opened its doors in Whitehaven last May.

“Well Business was going really good," said Monique Williams, co-owner of Trap Fusion.

So good that they were planning to expand until COVID-19 came along and changed everything.

“A lot of our business comes from the lunch crowd, we had a lot of schools around us, we had a lot of businesses set up around us and all of those are closed now," said Williams.

Williams says her sales have dropped anywhere from 35 to 50% depending on the day.

“I think from the get-go, we said what can we do to help small businesses in particular with the limited funds that we have,” said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.

Monday, Mayor Strickland announced two new micro-loan programs.

Depending on the loan, the city offers anywhere from$2,000 to $35,000 to Memphis businesses but these loans must be paid back.

“So we really don’t want to get something that we have to pay back and take on another bill,” said Williams.

Plus Williams wouldn’t qualify because her restaurant has been opened less than 3 years.

Small businesses opened before March 1 of last year could qualify for the Economic Development Growth Engine or EDGE’s new grant called NEED.

“What we’re really trying to do with this program is to help retail and commercial companies in these distressed, inner-city neighborhood survive the current crisis," Reid Dulberger of EDGE.

The NEED grant offers $5,000 to businesses that are temporarily closed and up to $10,000 for businesses that remain open and the funds are forgivable.

Dulberger says the city and county are working together to try to ease the inevitable blow to the economy.

“So we have a lot of momentum coming into this crisis, the economy had really found its footing that is helpful but at the end of the day what happens here will be dependent what happens to the national and global economy and we have no control over that," said Dulberger.

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