2022 Heart of BHAM Forgivable Loan Program
The City of Birmingham, through its Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity, collaborated with the Birmingham Business Resource Center (BBRC) to launch the Heart of BHAM Forgivable Loan Program as a symbolic campaign showcasing significant support to local underserved and disadvantaged businesses.
This collaboration was made possible due to the American Rescue Plan State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds from the federal government, received by the City of Birmingham.
Small businesses continue to recover from COVID-19
Many small businesses in Birmingham were still in rough financial shape because of the pandemic, with the effects of the pandemic hitting disproportionately hard among historically disadvantaged firms, specifically black–owned firms. The primary purpose of Heart of BHAM was to help the Birmingham small business economy recover in the aftermath of COVID–19 through supportive activities that strengthen the businesses’ financial outlook and in turn promote the overall economic health in Birmingham.
The City collaborated with BBRC to implement a program involving outreach and education for local small businesses and the provision of funding up to $10,000 in financial assistance to such small businesses located within the City of Birmingham which have been detrimentally impacted by COVID–19.
The Heart of BHAM Loan Program focused on uplifting businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic, and for whom significant support through existing programs has not been available. The objective of the program was to better meet the needs of local firms owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals in low– and moderate–income communities throughout the city of Birmingham or small businesses that service low– and moderate–income communities in Birmingham.
The City of Birmingham partnered with the Birmingham Business Resource Center to launch the Heart of BHAM Forgivable (HBFL) Loan Program. This program provided short-term loan relief to businesses within the corporate limits of Birmingham that saw a reduction in revenue because of COVID-19 and/or were denied PPP or other COVID relief funding. The City of Birmingham recognized the need to further support small businesses that struggled to access capital during the pandemic. The Birmingham Business Resource Center made fifty (50) Heart of BHAM loans of up to $10,000 at zero interest to mitigate losses experienced by our local small business community. The Birmingham Business Resource Center defines a small business as having fifty (50) employees or less. Eligible applicants were required to show evidence of an active City of Birmingham business license.
Birmingham Business Resource Center (BBRC) has provided more than 1.5 billion in loans and created more than 6000 jobs since its inception in 1996, with a primary focus on being a financial resource and advocate for disadvantaged entrepreneurs and small businesses. BBRC assists entrepreneurs in every stage of business development. Through an array of technical assistance activities, including one–on–one coaching, the BBRC focuses on helping businesses scale for growth. Services include providing resources to build capacity, attain new customers, and access capital. Emphasis is placed on economic empowerment and supporting historically disadvantaged businesses through diverse supplier opportunities.
*Businesses owned in part or fully by City of Birmingham staff, administration, leadership, and/or their spouses and dependents were ineligible.