Neighborhood Allies and First Commonwealth Bank Partnership Provides $1.3 Million Through Paycheck Protection Program To Vulnerable and Minority-led Businesses

Apr 29, 2020

Small businesses make communities more vibrant, connected, and inviting. But amid COVID-19, they are suffering. In order to support them now and into the future, we set out to help them gain critical access to forgivable loans through the Paycheck Protection Program.

Our neighborhood small businesses are the lifeblood, fabric, and soul of our neighborhood economies. They are also extremely vulnerable to economic hardships and deeply in need of substantial, targeted support. When we lose them, it has an extraordinary ripple effect on the people and communities we serve.

When the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was announced on April 3, 2020 as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Neighborhood Allies recognized that the system was not set up to reach the most vulnerable people, places, and organizations. Swift action was needed. That’s why we teamed up with First Commonwealth Bank and stepped up to provide critically needed technical assistance to small businesses and nonprofits and a dedicated banking partner that would process applications, provide approved loans, and work to help our most vulnerable community businesses to access resources offered through the PPP.

The Paycheck Protection Program allows businesses to apply for a loan worth up to two and a half months of their payroll in order to keep their employees paid during COVID-19. If used for qualifying expenses, these loans are forgivable under the CARES Act. The PPP and following loan forgiveness are intended to provide economic relief to small businesses nationwide that have been adversely impacted by the coronavirus.

Serving as a skilled community broker between applicants and First Commonwealth Bank, Neighborhood Allies worked closely with both the businesses and First Commonwealth to ensure that applications were complete, accurate, and in the best position to be approved. Without our technical assistance providers’ dedication, timeliness, and non-stop hard work, these businesses may not have received a forgivable loan under the Paycheck Protection Program.  With already high barriers to access vital resources for many of our beloved community businesses, we wanted to help as many as possible before the funds from the Small Business Administration were exhausted.

“The Neighborhood Allies team was so responsive and hard-working to make sure that my company was treated fairly in the Paycheck Protection Program. I was so impressed by the speed with which they responded from my very first call, all the way to the last. This is when I called feeling there was very little hope for my company. Very grateful!”

– Justin Laing, Hillombo, LLC

All within less than 30 days, Neighborhood Allies, along with our partners, hosted a paycheck protection program webinar where over 150 participants attended, responded to 100 applicants, submitted 18 applications, and received approval by the Small Business Administration for 16 of those.

The true partnership we forged with First Commonwealth Bank provided was unprecedented. Without their promise to serve as a trusted banking partner and create an environment where vulnerable businesses could succeed, we could not have achieved what we did.

By The Numbers

During the first round of the PPP funding, we:

  • Helped 16 small businesses and nonprofits secure a forgivable loan under the PPP
  • Reached nearly $1.3 million in approved forgivable loans, with an average loan amount of $77,500 per business
  • Helped to retain or rehire over 100 employees, with an average of 7.7 employees per business

In addition,

  • 75% of approved applicants were nonprofits
  • 69% of approved applicants were minority or woman-led

In less than a month, we were able to impact the lives of over 100 individuals by helping their employers secure funding to continue paying them during the COVID-19 crisis. With approved loan amounts averaging just $77,500 and number of employees per business averaging less than 10, we helped those that needed it most.

With these financial and technical resources, we hope that these enterprises will stabilize and improve their access to future capital. They are the ones working to meet the needs of community members in your neighborhoods, supporting community development projects to make communities more vibrant and beneficial for all, fighting for racial and social justice, feeding you your favorite take-out or serving you your favorite coffee. We want them here to stay and we need more resources!

Neighborhood Allies has always been dedicated to our mission — supporting the people and organizations working to create and maintain healthy neighborhoods. Now more than ever, that mission includes supporting individual community members, small business owners, and other nonprofits at a time when we all must come together to face a common challenge.

Top Header Image Photo Credit: Prototyping Larimer Stories by artist John Peña, photo by OPA