Miami-Dade County has launched a new loan Program To help Small Businesses Survive during the Pandemic
The restrictions implemented to keep us safe and stop the spread of COVID-19, are having a devastating economic impact on the business community. Especially small businesses, which account for the majority of establishments and private employment in Miami-Dade, but often struggle to access banking services or obtain loans.
To help small businesses in Miami-Dade in their fight for survival during the pandemic, the county is using $25 million in federal coronavirus relief to launch a micro-loan program called The RISE Miami-Dade fund.
RISE is an acronym for:
Re-Investing in our Small Business Economy
RISE is mainly intended to benefit small businesses that did not obtain the Payment Protection Loan or any other kind of loan from the Small Business Administration. Priority is given to those businesses that can prove they received no state or federal funds to recover from the impact of COVID-19. RISE is also intended to help companies that did not get loans because they have a low credit score.
Businesses that have already received aid during the pandemic can still apply for the RISE loan, but their applications will be reviewed after those businesses that have not received any aid, or received financial help. To qualify for the loan, businesses must be in operation in Miami-Dade for at least two years, have 25 or fewer employees, and have less than $2,000,000 in gross sales.
To give you an idea of how important small businesses are to the economy in the county, here are some statistics obtained from 2018, SMALL BUSINESS. BIG IMPACT report on small businesses in Miami-Dade County:
- More than 82,00 small businesses hire 53.3 percent of the county’s workforce
- Around 81% of the private establishments in the county are micro-businesses employing fewer than ten people.
I had the opportunity to interview Michealjohn (MJ) Green, the VP / Fund Director of the RISE Miami Dade Fund to find out about the fund, how it differs from other loans such as the PPP loan, financial tips, and more. He has helped in the creation of the program and hopes it will support the small business ecosystem through this current pandemic and beyond.
“Investing in the people, businesses and facilities of those communities was the way I saw that change could be made so I decided to make a career out of it.”-MJ
Creating wealth in minority communities has now become his calling, after working with the Private Wealth Team at The Bank of Montreal managing over 580 million dollars with not one black or brown client, MJ realized that had to change. He became fund Manager of the Community Fund of North Miami Dade and started a small business lending program focused on minority entrepreneurs. His primary goal is to provide access to capital and technical assistance to black and other minority-owned businesses.
In addition to working to support the diverse small business community in Miami, MJ is actively engaged in communities across the country and sits on the board of the Africa Town Land Trust, Leadership Miami Executive Team, MDC Small Business Enterprise Board, African American Alliance of CDFI CEO’s and many more. Other than being an advocate for wealth in urban communities, MJ is a basketball fan, traveler, and proponent of all things that help LMI Communities thrive. Here is his interview:
What drew you to community investment?
I have always wanted to affect positive change in communities of color. Systemic racism and the destruction of vibrant economies and communities built by people of color has unfairly caused high poverty to something connected to black and brown communities. I wanted to change that. Investing in the people, businesses and facilities of those communities was the way I saw that change could be made so I decided to make a career out of it.
Tell me about the RISE Miami-Dade FUND. How will it help Miami-Dade County?
The RISE FUND is a public-private partnership to support the small businesses in Miami Dade. Preference is given to businesses that have not received any federal dollars from various programs. These dollars are flexible and can be used for any business need unlike some of the other programs that 60% or more must go to payroll. Paying and keeping employees on the payroll is hugely important but we realized that businesses also have other costs and we want to support them and keep our communities vibrant with the amazing diversity of small businesses that Miami Dade county offers.
What should a business do to prepare before applying to a fund and your fund specifically?
Before applying businesses should get all their paperwork in order. Taxes for the last two years, bank statements for the last 6 months and profit and loss statements. If a business needs help with any of these documents I encourage them to reach out to the fund or one of the local CDFI’s who will gladly work hand and hand with them to provide the technical assistance needed to produce the documentation they need.
What makes a good applicant?
A good applicant has been in business for 2 years, live in Miami Dade County and has a credit score above 575
How do you explain CDFIs to someone who’s not familiar with them? How are CDFIs different than traditional banks?
CDFI stands for Community Development Financial Institution these organizations where put in place to support communities where banks had left communities behind. Think redlining or the lack of capital provided historically to black-owned businesses.
CDFI’s Play a huge role in communities. They offer opportuneness, training, and support that would not be offered elsewhere. Most CDFI’s lend at attractive rates and have much lower credit score requirements than traditional lenders. The risk that CDFI’s are willing to take and the opportunity that provides for minority and other communities is huge.
What changes have you seen in the industry since you started working with CDFIs?
I have not seen a lot of changes. Technology at most CDFI’s has been approved but still I feel we are the best-kept secret in urban and rural communities. I think we will continue to see CDFI innovate and come out with new ways to reach target populations as well as using tech to provide technical assistance. I hope we see more investment in CDFI. By that I mean more capital from the government, banks and private institutions as we all grow a deeper understanding of the value that small businesses bring to all communities.
What are your predictions as to how the CDFI industry will evolve in the future?
I think you will see CDFI be more like some fintech companies. I hope to see them leverage AI and other growing tech tools to better serve clients. I hope to see additional capital come into the CDFI ecosystem. The last financial crisis small business lending dropped 80%. Support of and for CDFI’s will be huge is supporting the fabric of American economies.
What are your top financial tips for entrepreneurs?
- Make sure you take time this year to get your paperwork in order. A lot of businesses that missed out or were unable to fully utilize PPP and EDIL did not have their paperwork in order.
- Have a savings plan. Business and personal financial management have similar principals and one is you must create a plan. Your cash flow projections and your budget are important. Create some savings goals and stick to it.
- Grow your relationship with a bank or any other lender so you can easily access capital if needed or at least have a conversation with a person that can help.
- Reach out to a CDFI, take some workshops and other classes. Always be learning, always be improving your business, and building your network.
What is one of the most challenging parts of what you do?
I think the hard part is turning down businesses that just are a bit too risky but the great part is we don’t just say no we try and work with them to get them to a place where we can do the loan.
What is your favorite part about what you do?
I love being able to help people accomplish their goals and dreams. The great part of my job is not only am I able to help people but also I am a part of the ripple effect that strong community-owned businesses have on local economies. The jobs that are created, the additional dollars that are in the community that help pay for education, travel, and overall better quality of life. I truly enjoy being apart of people’s journey of success.
What are three of your proudest accomplishments?
1. Being apart of the team that created the RISE MDC Fund
2. Helping start the Africa Town Land Trust in Seattle
3. Lastly, I am proud to say I have helped 100s of individuals and businesses reach their financial goals.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, assuming the pandemic was over, where would you go?
I would have to say because of the pandemic I would go back home to see my parents who I have not seen in 7 months now. After that, it would be a trip to South Africa.
To apply and for more information on the Miami-Dade Rise Fund visit risemiamidade.com