Fifth Third Launches COVID-19 Small Business Response and Recovery Initiative

Fifth Third Bank launched the Greater Cincinnati COVID-19 Small Business Response and Recovery Initiative, providing businesses of 25 employees or fewer in low-to-moderate income areas with advice and access to capital through the initiative’s loan and grant programs.

Fifth Third invested an initial $700,000 and the Greater Cincinnati Foundation invested $250,000, while JPMorgan Chase invested $100,000.

The initiative will be powered by Next Street, an advisory firm that assists small businesses with accessing capital and technical assistance. The National Development Council has been involved in the planning and design of the initiative and will serve as the fiscal agent and will also assist in additional fundraising efforts.

“Fifth Third is proud to support this effort. It provides a vital opportunity to coordinate and leverage expertise across the region to help small businesses rebound from the devastating impacts that COVID-19 has had on our economy,” Kala Gibson, head of business banking at Fifth Third, said. “This initiative has great potential to positively impact the long-term small business ecosystem by building new capacity for business service organizations and provides an end-to-end solution for small businesses in our region.”

The key components of the initiative include:

  • A technical assistance program that will assess applicant small business needs, match businesses with recommended assistance via one of the business service organizations participating in the initiative and provide online education and resources
  • A small business liquidity fund to provide responsible loans to small businesses ready to receive capital

The overall economic toll from COVID-19 on small businesses and their employees has been immense and will disproportionately affect underserved small businesses, especially those that are women- and minority-owned. Next Street estimates that nearly 70,000 Hamilton County businesses with fewer than 25 employees will be negatively impacted as a result of the pandemic, with more than 10,000 of those in low-to-moderate income communities.

“Small business owners open their doors every day, which allows their employees the opportunity to earn wages to take care of their families. Many of these employees live directly in the neighborhoods that those small businesses serve. This initiative makes resources available to those who take care of our communities,” Mike Smith, head of business banking for Fifth Third’s Cincinnati region, said. “Fifth Third is proud to collaborate with JPMorgan Chase, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and the business service organizations to launch this program.”

Experts from the partner organizations involved in the initiative will provide their technical assistance resources as well as potential funding options to the small businesses that are eligible for the initiative.

“The initiative is a welcome respite for all small businesses, acknowledging that small minority-owned businesses have been inordinately impacted by the pandemic. The African American Chamber is happy to partner in this Fifth Third Bank initiative to help businesses reset, rebuild and recover,” Eric Kearney, president and CEO of the African American Chamber, said.

“We have a standing commitment to support the people, businesses and communities that help Cincinnati thrive,” Amoury Hollins, Southwest Ohio area manager of business banking for JPMorgan Chase, said. “Small businesses across our region have been profoundly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, particularly those owned by people of color and women, and will require access to resources and on-going support as they navigate the future.”

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