The city of Indianapolis and the Indy Chamber have announced a $10 million Rapid Response Loan Fund to help small businesses reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic. The loans are earmarked primarily for the food and beverage industries.

‘The rapid response loan program will provide emergency capital to food, beverage, entertainment and other small business buses that make up the fabric of Indianapolis,” said Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett. “These businesses employ tens of thousands of residents and help attract the city’s 30 million annual visitors. A timely infusion of working capital can help ensure these employers stay solvent during the crisis.”

So far, the fund has received $3 million in commitments from private and public entities, including $1 million each from the Capital Improvement Board and Indianapolis-based Anthem Inc. (NYSE: ANTM). The Indy Chamber is challenging other companies and philanthropic funders to invest in the loan fund.

“Time is of the essence for local entrepreneurs and small businesses,” said Indy Chamber President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Huber. “While federal loans and tax credits will provide significant relief, our businesses need more immediate financial support.”

President Trump last week signed a $2 trillion pandemic relief measure, which includes money for small businesses. But Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett says that money may not reach small businesses for several weeks.  The fund announced today is intended to be a bridge for small, local businesses as they wait for the federal relief.

“Not all impacted firms will qualify (for federal funds). And those who do qualify may have to wait from four to six weeks before benefits are received for small business that has only a handful of employees. That is just simply too long,” said Hogsett. “It’s clear that restrictions are necessary to help curb the spread of COVID-19, but we know that small businesses and their employees are hurting as a result,”

The loans will eventually be eligible for small businesses in the nine-county region of central Indiana.

Huber says loan amounts will range between $1,000 to $25,000 which the agencies intend to expedite.

“We have many small businesses that are very vulnerable in this time,” said Huber. “Many of these companies are trying to figure out how do I keep my staff hired and engaged? How do I pay health insurance premiums? How do I pay the rent?”

The Rapid Response Loan Fund will be administered by the Business Ownership Initiative, a program within the Indy Chamber. Huber says the BOI recently pivoted its focus to emergency assistance for small businesses affected by COVID-19 via free one-on-one business coaching and access to lending capital.

Click here for more information on the Rapid Response Loan and the application process.

Indy Chamber CEO Michael Huber said the local loan program provides a bridge until federal funds arrive.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said timing is critical for small businesses to survive.