Recipients of the DEGC Recovery Assistance Loan Fund (RALF) are touting the COVID-19 financial relief program and the people who are running it. RALF provides up to $500,000 in loans to Detroit businesses impacted by the pandemic to use for payroll, rent, utilities and other expenses.
The DEGC Board approved the loan fund in September 2020, which has a two-year period to disburse all funds. The program will remain open to applicants until all funds are distributed.
With a flexible and low-interest rate, and terms from five to 15 years, these funds are helping businesses stay afloat, pivot and even grow. Here’s what business owners are saying about RALF and DEGC’s administrative staff:
First Line Tax Pros – The first line of tax defense for you and your business
First Line Tax Pros, opened in 2019 by Keniesha Ingram, helps clients with their tax needs and serves as a hub of resources for other tax professionals. Thanks to DEGC’s RALF relief program, Ingram received help when the pandemic struck.
“With the loan I was able to retain my current employees and hire four additional staff for my company,” she said.
First Line Tax Pros also secured a lease to operate a brick-and-mortar storefront at 20495 Van Dyke Ave., in Detroit. Now individuals, business owners, entrepreneurs and families can receive a variety of services in their local community.
“I have welcomed myself to the neighborhood and I am excited for what the next year will bring,” said Ingram. “This was made possible only with the help of DEGC. Words can’t express how happy and grateful I am.”
Blessed Hands Interpreting Services – Connecting those who cannot hear
Since the age of five, Blessed Hands CEO Annebelle Duncan has been connecting people from two different worlds – the hearing and the deaf. As a child, she interpreted for her deaf parents; today she leads a company dedicated to inclusion and opportunities for the deaf community.
Like many Detroit businesses, Blessed Hands Interpreting Services felt the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Duncan knew she needed to modify her business model in order to provide uninterrupted access to communications for the deaf community.
She applied for a Federal Communication Commission licensure to become a federally licensed video relay service provider. She also required additional funding to help her business pivot. She learned of the DEGC RALF program, compared it to other financial products in the market, and was convinced RALF was right for her business.
“DEGC staff handled my application with grace, humility and care,” said Duncan. “I so appreciate their hard work, patience and diligence. Words cannot express what they have done for me. Without DEGC, I do not want to even think of where my business would be now.”
Best Network Design & Associates, LLC – Professional IT, electrical, security & communications
“The DEGC recovery assistance loan came to us at the perfect time,” said Eze Ejelonu, president, Best Network Design & Associates, LLC (BND).
Ejelonu said the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was a fearful time for business owners and employees – both choosing between staying safe at home or returning to “business as usual” despite the continuing health crisis. Add to that the impact on BND’s construction and electrical customers, which suffered a lack of workers and loss in financing that delayed many projects for months. This put a major strain on the cash flow for BND, which was accustomed to net 60/90-day terms for payment.
Like many Detroit small businesses, BND received no Paycheck Protection Program funding. Luckily, the company’s leadership team saw a notice about the DEGC RALF program.
“From the very beginning of the process we knew we were in good hands,” said Ejelonu. “The DEGC staff was welcoming and informative. While we were discouraged at times, our DEGC contacts provided both the comfort and encouragement we needed to move forward.”
Once approved for the loan, BND was able to hire much needed staff and purchase materials for the jobs moving forward.
“I highly recommend looking into this loan as a first option,” said Ejelonu. “The rates are very fair and the process was streamlined as a result of DEGC’s professional support staff.”