BIPOC-owned businesses get an early shot at third round of PPP loans

(FOX 9)

With the latest federal stimulus package, small businesses are trying to receive the funding they need to keep their doors open.

In the Twin Cities metro, work is being done to help business owners of color gain access to that funding as quickly as possible.

Since the pandemic started, the number of children enrolled at Olu's Beginnings in north Minneapolis has dropped by more than half, from 70 to about 30. Now the early childhood development center is hoping for an influx of cash to keep from going out of business.

"We need the money," said owner Gloria Freeman. "If we don't get the money, we may have to look at other things."

Freeman is applying for a loan through the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program which opened for its third round of applications on Monday. For the first week, only community development financial institutions, or CDFIS, which serve underserved communities, can facilitate the loans.

In an effort to give more small business owners of color - many of whom were left out of the first two rounds because they don't have lawyers and accountants to help them navigate the complicated application process - it's a head start.

"The first two rounds went to big business. The pandemic has hit BIPOC entrepreneurs the hardest."

The Metropolitan Economic Development Association Mentors BIPOC-owned businesses through various stages of development. It is helping small business owners of color navigate the PPP application process and has more than $30 million to give in loans up to a quarter of a million dollars.

"For us this time around it feels like the deployment of the program is a little more thoughtful, is a little more fair."

Freeman says getting a PPP loan in the first round prevented her from having to lay off any of her 15 employees. She hopes a second loan will allow her to rebuild her business to where it was before the pandemic.

"I'm glad the government is being clear about making sure that the underdogs are getting support," said Freeman. "They are thinking about people like me."