BhamStrong small business emergency loans are a “life saver” according to business leader

Birmingham Skyline
BhamStrong emergency loans are making a difference. Photo by Jon Eastwood for BhamNow.

Last week, BhamStrong announced they had approved sixty-six emergency loans for small businesses in Birmingham in response to the economic shutdown caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

The emergency loan fund was mobilized by BhamStrong in partnership with the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham and administered by the Birmingham Business Resource Center (BBRC). 

Emergency Loan Fund

According to BhamStrong, the mission of the emergency loan fund is to help preserve Birmingham’s small businesses and support Birmingham workers. To date, the approved loans total over $1.5 million, and range in amounts from $10,000 to $25,000. The BBRC continues to review applications and anticipates another group of businesses will be approved for the remaining $400,000 in loans soon.  

In March, the fund was made possible when the City of Birmingham allocated $1.2 million to the BhamStrong emergency relief loan fund. Area businesses have donated an additional $900,000 to the fund.  

As of April 24, 2020:

  • 32 of the 66 businesses are minority-owned
  • 9 of 66 businesses are veteran-owned
  • 28 of 66 awarded businesses are women-owned

Two Recipients – Global Staffing Company & Sojourns

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Global Staffing Company. Photo from Greg Minard

The impact of the emergency loans are immeasurable.

“BhamStrong is a lifesaver,” Greg Minard, CEO of Global Staffing Co told Bham Now. 

Minard’s business is a hospitality staffing company that  supplies housekeepers to hotels, and cooks and dishwashers to restaurants and banquet services.  Presently, less than 20% of his staff is unable to work right now.

Without the emergency loan Minard’s business was in danger of shutting down.  

Bham Strong CEO BhamStrong small business emergency loans are a "life saver" according to business leader
Greg Minard, CEO of Global Staffing Co

“We would not have been able to make payroll this past week,” he said. The city has done us a great favor to help us out and we appreciate that. It is great that we live in a city where they can help small businesses. Small businesses are the backbone of the community.  For them to react early and get the loans out in a timely manner that was key.”

BhamStrong’s emergency loan program has also come to the rescue of small retail shops. Sojourns Fair Trade, on 3rd Avenue North in Downtown Birmingham, secured a loan.

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Sojourns -Free Trade owner Melissa Kendrick (center) surrounded by customers during Christmas 2018. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

As micro-business, it means everything to have my city support me and know that I am deemed valuable to our community,” said Melissa Kendrick, owner of Sojourns. “I’ve been down here for 15 years.  We were one of the first retail shops to open up here, trying to lead the way for downtown revitalization. It means the world to me that Birmingham says… Yes you are an important part of downtown revitalization and we want to make sure you are still here. I’m grateful, humble and excited.”

According to BBRC Executive Director Bob Dickerson the awarded loans cover a variety of businesses that collectively have broad community impact.

“We met our goals in terms of diversity and geography as well as making sure we help businesses have staying power, even after the pandemic,’’ Dickerson said. “The types of companies that received loans cover everything from restaurants to beauticians and daycare centers. There are about 10 different industries covered in the businesses that applied for the loans.’’


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Birmingham’s beloved Vulcan, photo by Pat Byington, Bham Now

Even though the  deadline to apply for the emergency loan funds was March 27. There is still financial assistance available for small businesses through the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program and the federal Paycheck Protection Program. Small businesses or non-profits that do not currently have a relationship with a bank or lender can visit for information on how to work with Hope Credit Union to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program loan.

Stay Safe Birmingham

Stay tuned for future updates. We are all in this together. Support our local businesses by visiting Bham Now’s Local Business (477 businesses) and Nonprofit (97 nonprofit groups) directories.

Pat Byington
Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

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