The Merchants Fund (TMF) is providing financial relief to businesses that have suffered direct physical damage and/or inventory losses from flooding related to Hurricane Ida.
“With the additional funding that has come from the Commerce Department ($300K), we’ve increased the size of the grant to up to $5,000. If additional funding is secured, we may be able to increase that more depending on the total number of applicants,” said Jill Fink, executive director of TMF.
The deadline is tight — applications will be accepted through midnight this Sunday, October 10, reviewed the week of October 11, and grant announcements/disbursements will be made the week of October 18.
To be eligible, businesses must:
- Occupy a storefront, retail, or commercial space physically located in Philadelphia.
- Have experienced direct physical damage or inventory loss due to Hurricane Ida, with priority focus on flood damage and/or losses not covered by insurance.
- Be an independently owned and operated for-profit business or franchise.
- Follow all local, state, and federal taxes (or on an approved payment plan).
- Have the required federal, state, and local licenses and permits to operate legally.
TMF was established in 1854 by merchants to support fellow merchants during times of financial hardship. This was a time before a federal safety net (Social Security, Medicaid/Medicare, etc.) or private insurance existed. Indeed, it was through this type of mutual aid that modern insurance companies were born; think Mutual of Omaha, Liberty Mutual, MassMutual, etc. TMF continues this mission today by supporting small businesses with small grants.
“Since the start of the pandemic, all of our grant funds have been directed to emergency relief efforts to address the impacts of COVID or other emergencies — we’ve assisted a couple of businesses that have suffered from devastating fires — and now those that have been impacted by Hurricane Ida,” she said.
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Fink said Manayunk was one of the hardest hit areas and is struggling to recover.
“Just as an example and to understand the ripple effect — while many businesses have been able to reopen, many of the parking lots have not been able to open for various reasons, but one is because PECO has not been able to restore power so there are no lights or ability to operate the kiosks/booths,” Fink said.
“At least one restaurant reported to Gwen [McCauley, the executive director of Manayunk Development Corporation] that he had two reservations call him Saturday night to say that they had to cancel because they were driving around Manayunk and couldn’t find anywhere to park and were going home,” she added. “So even a business that was able to reopen is losing revenue because people can’t get to him.”
TMF has contributed $30K (which is all that remains in their budget for the year). The Commerce Department has contributed $300K.
TMF is also accepting donations from those who would like to support this Disaster Relief Program (and/or their general Merchant Relief Fund). Donations can be made online, or by reaching out via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 215.399.1339. Funding that comes in after the grant cycle will still be distributed to businesses in need.-30-
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