More COVID-19 relief grants are available to Indianapolis Black-owned small businesses.
Money from Cummins’ CARE initiative, which focuses on enhancing racial equity, will be distributed through relief grants by LISC Indianapolis and a loan fund through the Indy Black Chamber of Commerce. Qualifying business owners can apply to receive up to $15,000 in relief funds through LISC Indianapolis.
This is the fourth round of funding that LISC Indianapolis will distribute to small business owners since the pandemic began; in previous grants, more than 90 percent of recipients were Black, Latino or people of color.
Aaron Laramore, senior program officer for LISC Indianapolis, said these funds can be a lifeline for Black small business owners — even if the financial relief is temporary.
“We’re not attempting to undo all of the economic damage, or make these businesses whole,” Laramore said. “We’re really just trying to provide some relief from the unrelenting pressure that these businesses are [under] in this environment, and give them some ability to hold on as we bring to bear other supports.”
Those other supports will include a longer-term loan fund distributed by the Indy Black Chamber of Commerce. President Larry Williams hopes those loans will allow continued access to capital to business owners who have had to make pivots in their business model during the pandemic.
“We have people who had restaurants that want to do food trucks,” he said. “We have someone who does hair for older ladies, and they didn’t want to come into the shop because of COVID; they were high risk. So her pivot was to open up a mobile beauty shop to go around to these assisted living houses and still do her ladies’ hair.”
Trucks like the ones those two businesses need cost tens of thousands of dollars; more than the businesses could front alone. Williams hopes the future loans through Cummins’ CARE funding would help businesses like those adapt and grow as social distancing continues.
Laramore said that the combination of relief grants and loan funding for Black small business owners in Indianapolis can help overall economic recovery.
“How resilient they are is really critical to economic recovery, and never more so than now, as we try to emerge from a pandemic that has really ravaged that small business sector,” he said, pointing out that small businesses constitute 44 percent of economic activity and two thirds of job creation in the United States. “And for Black-owned businesses, [the pandemic has] really undercut the gains that they’ve made, and really made difficult what was already a challenging road in accessing capital.”
Applications for the relief grants distributed through LISC Indianapolis are open through March 17. The Indianapolis Black Chamber of Commerce plans to open applications for its loan program in two weeks.