PHOENIX—Valley Metro and the city of Phoenix have launched the Small Business Financial Assistance Program (SBFAP), a one-year pilot to provide direct financial assistance to locally-owned, small businesses immediately adjacent to construction along the South Central Extension/Downtown Hub and Northwest Extension Phase II light rail construction corridors.
“I'm excited for all the economic advantages that light rail will bring to these neighborhoods. Yet, with today’s challenging times, our communities - especially our local businesses - need our help," said Valley Metro Rail Board Vice Chair, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. "By providing financial assistance to businesses affected by the pandemic and light rail construction, we will help sustain them and advance them toward a more prosperous future."
So far, program funds total $2.3 million from Phoenix Transportation 2050 and the Phoenix Community Development and Investment Corporation. To help distribute the funds to eligible, small businesses, the Valley Metro Rail Board approved of a contract yesterday with Prestamos CDFI, a division of Chicanos Por La Causa, to administer the program pilot.
“During the past year of construction, we heard from small businesses near our projects that financial assistance would be most beneficial and saw the success of similar programs at our peer agencies,” said Scott Smith, Valley Metro CEO. “We know that businesses are struggling, and we want to do more to help them thrive once the light rail projects are operational and long after.”
The SBFAP currently offers two tiers of financial assistance that can be applied for annually. In Tier I, businesses can receive $3,000 during the pilot year or they can opt to apply for Tier II where they can receive up to $9,000 depending on their demonstrated business impact. SBFAP funds are intended to support and help to sustain these small businesses and can be used to offset business operational expenses, such as rent/mortgage, utilities, insurance and/or payroll.
“Small businesses are the heart and soul of Phoenix, especially those along the expanding light rail system,” said Phoenix Councilmember Michael Nowakowski. “I’m proud of this partnership with Valley Metro, it will bring needed financial assistance to businesses directly impacted by construction.”
"Small businesses are suffering two-fold because of the pandemic and light rail construction. I am glad that the city can provide some relief for them through this program,” said Phoenix Councilmember Carlos Garcia. “I hope we can continue to support them with funding. I also ask the community to patronize these businesses."
Valley Metro’s business assistance program has been ongoing since the start of construction on each light rail project, and includes social media and marketing assistance, community events, signage, dedicated personnel and more. The SBFAP is a new program added to the business assistance mix. Additionally, the Valley Metro Rail Board also authorized new contracts yesterday with several local consultant firms who will offer technical assistance to businesses impacted by light rail construction.