LIMA — A group of Lima entrepreneurs are organizing to support one another and the community through their COVID-19 hardships.
The group, known as Build Up Lima, was formed as a platform for community initiatives — like minority inclusion on local boards and more inclusive hiring practices — but is now focused on COVID-19 relief efforts, like distributing N95 masks to those in need or donating $1,000 to a local business, expected sometime in June.
And on Tuesday, Build Up Lima hosted a seminar about nontraditional lending options for small businesses and startups, many of which have been hurt financially during the COVID-19 shutdowns.
“COVID happened and it was like, how do we respond rather than be on the passive side of it?” asked Frank Cage, founder of Cage Design Studios and a member of Build Up Lima.
The answer, for Build Up Lima, is collaboration.
The nonprofit is selling T-shirts to support community development initiatives and is promoting the Build Up Lima Challenge, in which participants shop local on the first day of each month. Already, 27 local businesses, nonprofits and entrepreneurs have signed up to work with Build Up Lima, according to the group’s website.
“(COVID-19) has affected everyone’s business, when you look at the community at large as far as people not being able to get out and spend money,” said Ahmad Houston, an independent financial services adviser and member of Build Up Lima. “That affects the economics for everyone. … There are resources available for you. Hopefully what we’ll be able to do is shed some light; bridge the gap; make sure people can get those resources and those loans.”
The Economic & Community Development Institute in Columbus, one of the participants in Tuesday’s seminar, is offering recovery loans to businesses affected by COVID-19 shutdowns and restrictions, for example. The loans are intended to provide businesses with enough working capital to reopen and stay open, which compounds with the challenges small businesses were facing prior to the pandemic.
“A lot of businesses are questioning how they’ll survive and move forward,” said Aaron Cornell, a relationship manager for the ECDI. “That is what we’re seeing.”
Reach Mackenzi Klemann at 567-242-0456.