Downtown businesses grateful for forgivable loan program through Downtown Memphis Commission

Updated: Apr. 17, 2020 at 5:06 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Business owners locally and across the country are looking for help with many businesses losing revenue or forced to close during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Memphis, downtown business owners are relieved to get support from the Downtown Memphis Commission.

This week, the Downtown Memphis Commission approved its first forgivable loans to help business owners survive the COVID-19 downturn.

Some business owners tell WMC Action News 5 they don’t know if they would be able to make it without this support.

“We run on a very slim budget,” Paige Garland, Owner of Rachel’s Aveda Salon and Spa said. “Because if we don’t work, we don’t get paid.”

The hairstylists who work for Paige Garland at Rachel’s Aveda Salon and Spa have been off the job for a month. The longer the doors are closed, the more Garland worries about losing the business altogether.

“I don’t have three months’ work of revenue sitting in the bank to pay my bills,” Garland said. “So it’s scary.”

Garland’s business was one of 20 downtown businesses approved for forgivable loans through the Downtown Memphis Commission.

Garland’s business received $7,500 that is entirely forgiven if her business is still open in two years.

”It’s hard to put into words the impact that this will have on my business,” Garland said.

Colby Midgett, Owner of Premiere Florists on Second Street, was approved for $5,000 in a forgivable loan.

“Oh gosh. It meant the world,” Colby Midgett, Owner of Premiere Florists said.

Her business has seen an 80% drop in revenue.

“It was very critical because as you know bills don’t stop,” Midgett said.

Both of these business owners have applied for federal support programs but as of Friday morning, they had not heard back.

They’ll likely need more help to stay afloat.

“I’m still waiting on answers,” Garland said.

While we were at Rachel’s Salon, Garland received one of the answers she hoped for!

“Oh my god!” Garland exclaimed.

Her business was approved for the Federal Payroll Protection Program. She can now give her employees a paycheck.

“It’s a good day!” Garland said.

Both of these business owners are optimistic they will survive.

“I’m very optimistic,” Midgett said. “And I think we’ll see it through. We’re going to come out on top.”

Thus far, the Downtown Memphis Commission has given out $135,000 in forgivable loans. The board plans to meet again next Wednesday to approve more applications.

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