As local businesses continue to struggle to recover from the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, RISE Miami-Dade — the small-business loan fund Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners seeded with $25 million of federal stimulus money — just announced it is relaxing eligibility guidelines to allow more small businesses to access the relief program. In addition, RISE announced more favorable terms, a new deadline application and new phone service for application support. It is all part of an effort to ensure the approximately $14 million left in the fund is distributed before the federally mandated December 31 deadline, which calls for any stimulus monies not disbursed by then to be returned to the federal government.
Under the new qualifying measures, small businesses in Miami-Dade must have:
- A maximum of 50 employees (up from the original 25);
- A maximum annual revenue of $5 million (up from the original $2 million);
- A minimum credit of 520 (down from the original 575).
- The maximum loan amount is now $45,000 (up from $30,000). And,
- The first loan payment is deferred until February 1, 2022. (Originally, payments had been slated to start three months after a loan was granted.)
RISE also announced all loan applications must be submitted by December 20, 2020. Small businesses can apply online at RiseMiamiDade.com or call the fund’s newly introduced phone service at 305-593-3311.
“We understand the urgency of this moment, and we see that our community’s small businesses are still struggling with the economic impacts of the pandemic. Which is why we felt it was crucial to do even more to ensure these relief funds could get into the hands of as many Miami-Dade small businesses as possible,” said George Joseph, CEO of the Dade County Federal Credit Union, which operates the fund. “By opening up the requirements and changing the eligibility factors, we believe we’re making it easier for businesses to access the support they need right now.”
Since its launch over the summer, RISE has issued more than $7 million in loans to 400 businesses in Miami-Dade, from hair salons in Kendall to pet groomers in Homestead, legal offices in Aventura to dry cleaners in North Miami, bakeries in South Miami to solopreneurs all across the county.
From the beginning, RISE made it a priority to seek out and support Black-, women- and minority-owned small businesses that have historically lacked access to capital but that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic-induced economic crisis.
To help, the application process and the document requirements for RISE were designed to be simple and streamlined, in contrast to the cumbersome process of many other relief programs. In addition, one-on-one assistance is offered to business owners who need help gathering documents or with technology. Above all, the funds were designed to be more flexible than what other programs stipulate: a RISE loan can be used to cover payroll or rent, to purchase technology or to cover any business-related expense.
Many RISE recipients are business owners who were turned down by other relief programs. Case in point: Johnson Louis, owner of JLouis Dry Cleaner in North Miami and whose business was crippled from the moment lockdown measures took effect. “Our services depend on the customers who go to church, schools, weddings and parties. With the shutdown, these events stopped and the need for our services came to a halt.” After being denied PPP and SBA loans, JLouis Dry Cleaner successfully secured a RISE loan which he used “to cover rent and make payroll and pay other business expenses that didn’t go away just because my customers did.”
RISE Miami-Dade was created by a unanimous vote of the Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners in June, when commissioners agreed to allocate $25 million of the federal CARES Act stimulus package to create a loan fund for local small and micro businesses—the mom-and-pop shops that had been largely left out of other relief programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or the Small Business Administration’s disaster loans. (However, having received support from those programs has never disqualified a small business from accessing a RISE loan.)
RISE Miami-Dade is operated by the Dade County Federal Credit Union in partnership with three Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI), or community-based lenders: Ascendus, Miami Bayside Foundation and the Black Business Investment Fund.
Find all eligibility and application requirements at RiseMiamiDade.com.