“We were seeing so many small businesses and entrepreneurs fall through the cracks of the system and not get access to the PPP and other federal funding alternatives,” Trey Bowles, co-founder and executive chairman of The DEC Network, says.
So, together with The Dallas Regional Chamber and the Dallas Citizens Council, The DEC set out to help mobilize the private business and philanthropic efforts of Dallas through a fund “that would benefit the very lifeblood of our economy—small businesses,” Bowles told Dallas Innovates via email.
The Revive Dallas Small Business Relief Fund, a collaboration with the Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT) and LiftFund, is a means of “filling the gap for small businesses and entrepreneurs.” The new fund has a keen focus on supporting minority and/or women-owned businesses “with a majority of its funding being allocated to these groups of entrepreneurs and small businesses,” Bowles says.
HOW TO APPLY
The Small Business Relief Fund opens applications on June 7 and will accept applications through June 12.
The $5 million fund is expected to provide loans for more than 250 applicants who may receive a loan of up to $25,000. Even if entrepreneurs have received government funding, they can still apply to the program if it wasn’t enough to sustain their business.
LiftFund, a nonprofit which lends to small businesses that do not have access to capital from typical lenders, will handle the application and loan process for the fund. CFT, which professionally manages 1,000 charitable funds, will be the fiscal sponsor, while The DEC Network, a nonprofit which provides resources for entrepreneurs, will initiate the fund.
“We decided to focus the efforts of The DEC Network to provide these necessary resources in combination with funding to help businesses stay open or re-open as this crisis passes, with the business community taking care of its own,” Bowles said in a statement.
Also among the program’s supporters are Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce, the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce, and the Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
“We believe that if the business community can focus and invest more deeply in a few things that really matter, we can build a better Dallas for all,” Fred Perpall, Dallas Citizens Council Chairman and The Beck Group CEO, says. “The Revive Dallas Small Business Relief Fund is one of those things that really matters and will be a primary driver for economic recovery in Dallas.”
Mayor Johnson has helped promote and speak on the fund to the business community and “is working to support the efforts of the private business community to help make this a reality,” Bowles says.
“COVID-19 has hit our small businesses hard, and those enterprises will be vital to the city’s economic recovery. The City of Dallas and the federal government have funded initiatives to help small businesses, but many more businesses still need access to capital to survive,” Mayor Johnson says.
To qualify for the Revive Dallas Small Business Relief Fund, businesses must meet the key criteria:
- The business must be in operation since August 2019
- Annual gross revenues must not exceed $1.5 million
- Businesses can have no more than 15 employees
- Businesses must be able to demonstrate a loss of at least 15 percent of revenue since March 1 due to the COVID-19 crisis
Applicants may receive loan forgiveness if they reach certain milestones such as joining The DEC Network’s Fast Start Mentoring Program or another mentor platform, submitting a 2021 budget and a 2020 profit and loss statement, filing their 2019 taxes, and retaining employees through the crisis, according to a statement.
The fund has already received commitments of more than $1 million with donors including Comerica Bank; Texas Capital Bank; John Olajide, Axxess Founder and CEO and the Dallas Regional Chamber’s 2020 chair; Andres Ruzo, CEO of LinkAmerica; and other private foundations.
“I believe Dallas is well-positioned to rebound economically precisely because we have resilient people, brilliant entrepreneurs, and a business community that understands we are all in this together. This fund is a prime example of how we can support each other during these challenging times,” Mayor Johnson says.
Businesses are able to pre-qualify for a loan here. The formal application process is set to begin on June 7 and will be open for one week. Following this, qualified applicants will go through a lottery process to see who will receive a loan.
Once an applicant is approved, the funds are expected to reach them within a seven-day period. Although the money can be used at the recipient’s discretion, they must let LiftFund know with accountability built into the process.
The DEC Network’s “three-pronged approach”
When the pandemic hit, The DEC Network “came up with a three-pronged approach to support the needs of the ecosystem,” Bowles says.
The first step was to create Let’s Grow North Texas Business, a “one-stop shop” for DFW entrepreneurs and small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis featuring fast-track mentoring, online tools, funding resources, and accurate information on helpful programs.
Next, The DEC Network formed a free virtual mentoring program called the Fast Start Mentoring Program to connect entrepreneurs with business veterans who can help them plan a path forward and identify emerging opportunities.
The final step is where the Revive Dallas Small Business Relief Fund came into play, Bowles says.
Bowles also recently launched the North Texas Innovation Alliance (NTXIA) with Jen Sanders. The nonprofit was created to improve quality of life, promote inclusive economic development, and increase resource efficiency.
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