Birmingham, here’s how to apply to the HERO Small Business Fund

BHM at Sloss Fest in 2018
Remember back when people could go to music festivals? Photo via Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

Last week, Harbert Management Corporation announced a $1m commitment to help Birmingham-area small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Harbert Employees Reaching Out (HERO) is the company’s internal foundation, and they’re launching and funding the HERO Small Business Relief Fund (HSBRF). We reached out to John Harbert of Harbert Management Corporation to find out more about the fund. Here’s what we learned.

1. This is a grant program—no payback required—for small businesses in Birmingham

John Harbert: The goal is that the grants provided by the HSBRF will enable qualifying local small businesses to continue their operations and service to the greater Birmingham community during this difficult time. 

We hope that grant recipients will use the money to meet their financial obligations to their employees and suppliers, as well as to their municipalities and utility providers, in order to help keep the local economic ecosystem running. 

Birmingham has had a very strong decade and we don’t want to lose that momentum while we weather the current medical and economic storm.  

2. The HSBRF starts taking applications Monday, April 20, 2020

That’s Matt Hottle of Redhawk Advisory and the Alabama Futures Fund talking about the fund. 

Here’s who qualifies and how to apply, according to

  • The HSBRF grant program is open to small businesses that are currently in operation, located in the Birmingham Designated Market Area and registered with the Internal Revenue Service and Alabama Department of Revenue.
  • Applications will be accepted starting April 20, 2020, and the program will continue until the total grant allowance has been awarded.
  • Small businesses interested in applying can fill out a grant application by clicking here.
  • Applications for grant assistance will be reviewed in the order in which they are received.
  • The financial assistance available through the HSBRF is limited and will be awarded based on eligibility criteria established by HERO.

Questions? Email

Here’s what John Harbert had to say to potential applicants: 

“More than anything, we want potential applicants to know that we are here to help them continue to make their vital contributions to our community during this difficult time.

Beyond that, we want everyone to know that we are in this together and that together Birmingham can and will survive this upheaval and come out stronger the other side.”

Did you know Bham Now has a database of more than 450 small businesses and counting? You can search the database if you’re looking for something in particular and sign up here if you own (or love) a local small business. We’ll use this info to create guides to help support small businesses in our community.

3. Harbert Management Corporation’s HERO Foundation is behind the fund

HERO is an employee-created and funded fund of Harbert Management Corporation. Graphic via Harbert Management Corporation

I asked John Harbert what inspired Harbert Management Corporation to pull together the money for the HSBRF, and why employees got involved. Here’s what he said:

“We believe that small businesses are not only a cornerstone of our local economy, but also an important source of our city’s vibrancy and culture, directly reflecting the community’s values and aspirations.

As a longtime Birmingham-based business, we are so grateful to be a part of this wonderful community and we simply want to help support our local small businesses and their employees in this time of great need.

In numerous discussions on how we could help we decided that rapid, direct grants to affected local businesses would be the most expedient and impactful assistance for our community and thus we launched the HSBRF.

All of my colleagues at HMC who have gotten involved in this initiative are excited to have a direct way to give back and help those in need.

They recognize that local small businesses are vital to the well-being and long-term success of greater Birmingham.

More generally, community service and helping those in need have always been important parts of the ethos of our firm, starting with the creation of our internal foundation Harbert Employees Reaching Out (“HERO”) in 1998 in response to a tragically active tornado season that year.

We all are so humbled to be in a position to expand the existing HERO individual grant program to include small businesses in order to respond to this unprecedented emergency.”

Now help us get the word out about this new program, Birmingham. Tag your favorite local small businesses to let them know help is available. 

Sharron Swain
Sharron Swain

Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference

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