Shuttered businesses

Like many businesses across the city, stores in West Philadelphia are shuttered to comply with government orders. — Tribune Photo/Abdul R. Sulayman

Efforts are underway to support the region’s local nonprofits and small businesses as they grapple with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Citizens Bank has announced a $5 million commitment to support communities impacted by the crisis.

The initiative will focus on providing immediate relief to community partners and aiding small business recovery.

“Responding to the needs of the communities we serve is at the heart of the Citizens credo and we stand ready to help our neighbors during this unprecedented time,” Bruce Van Saun, chairman and CEO, Citizens Financial Group said in a news statement.

“Through this initiative we will focus on addressing immediate community needs, while providing aid to small businesses so they can get back on their feet more quickly.”

The bank’s COVID-19 support effort will have two components:

A Community Support Relief program that will provide charitable contributions to community partners to assist with wider relief efforts. One example of this is charitable contributions to be committed to broad-based relief funds in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, with others to be determined. Longer term, the company plans to work with community partners to identify solutions to address changing needs.

A Small Business Relief and Recovery program that will provide charitable contributions and other assistance aimed at helping small businesses restore full operations, rehire and recover in the months to come.

Citizens has also removed programmatic restrictions on 2020 funding to nonprofit partners to allow support to be diverted to the areas of greatest need.

And local nonprofits that provide critical essential services will receive emergency funding from The Beech Companies, Inc. through its Alston Beech Foundation.

Beech is making $1,000 contributions to select nonprofits to keep them running during this crisis.

Beech President and CEO Kenneth Scott said many of the small organizations in the African-American community are often left out when it comes to receiving grant funding from programs.

“Some of our organizations are small food pantries and the kind of organizations that don’t have an official tax ID number, so it’s no way they would usually qualify for some of these programs when they are distributing funds,” he said.

“We want to make sure that we reach those local organizations that are on the ground actually doing the hard work in the neighborhoods.”

“We know that our community always gets hit the hardest and we just want to be in the forefront of trying to make sure that everybody survives this and that these organizations are sustainable and that they don’t go out of business,” Scott continued. “That is a real fear.”

The first five organizations to receive $1,000 in funding include Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission, the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, Philabundance, Share Food Program and the Walker Junior Unity Center.

Beech is also supporting nonprofits and small businesses by offering lines of credit.

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