One of Birmingham’s largest private companies is launching a small business fund for those economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Harbert Management Corp. is committing nearly $1.1 million through its newly created Harbert Employees Reaching Out (HERO) Small Business Relief Fund (HSBRF), and applications will be taken beginning April 20.
HMC’s goal is that grants provided by the fund will enable qualifying local small businesses to continue their operations and service to the greater Birmingham community.
“We believe that small businesses are not only a cornerstone of our local economy but also an important source of our community’s vibrancy and culture. Our local small businesses directly reflect the community’s values and aspirations, and supporting those businesses in this time of need is a priority for HMC and HERO,” said John Harbert, who is heading the HSBRF initiative. “More than anything, we want applicant businesses to know that we are here to help them continue to make their vital contributions to our community during this difficult time. Beyond that, we simply ask all applicants to be as thorough as possible when completing their applications and to include all of the requested information so that our team has the necessary information to evaluate and distribute grants as quickly as possible.”
Rapid response grants up to $25,000 will be awarded based on eligibility criteria. Harbert said HMC is continuing to raise additional capital internally and will be launching with almost $1.1 million.
To qualify, businesses must be located in metro Birmingham and registered with the Internal Revenue Service and Alabama Department of Revenue. Businesses must also demonstrate significant economic disruption from COVID-19.
Harbert said beyond that, HMC has an internal set of both qualitative and quantitative criteria to evaluate applicants. He said HMC will request information on what other programs businesses have applied to and have or are expecting to receive funding from and will factor those additional funds into its analysis, but the receipt of other forms of support is not a disqualifying factor.
Harbert said there are no requirements for how businesses should use the money, but it will be a factor considered in the application process.
“We want to prioritize businesses that will use the money to meet their financial obligations to their employees and suppliers, as well as for taxes and utilities, in order to help keep the local economic ecosystem running,” he said.
Applications for grant assistance will be reviewed in the order in which they are received, but the decision will be based on qualifications. The application can be found at www.herosmallbusinessfund.com.
The HERO Foundation was formed in 1998 by the employees of HMC and its affiliated companies to provide direct financial assistance to individuals or families in crisis due to a natural disaster, medical condition or temporary financial hardship.
“As a longtime Birmingham-based business, we are so grateful to be a part of this wonderful community, and we want to support our local small businesses and their employees in this time of great need,” Harbert said. “We decided that rapid, direct grants to affected local businesses would be the most expedient and impactful assistance for our community. We see HSBRF as a logical extension of HERO’s existing individual grant program expanded to include small businesses in order to respond to this unprecedented emergency.”
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