COVID-19 relief grant update

A little over three months ago, Baltimore Community Lending awarded COVID-19 relief grants to 30 small businesses in Baltimore City. Each business received $10,000 thanks to the support of Truist Cares, a cooperative effort between Truist Financial Corporation, Truist Foundation, Inc., and Truist Charitable Fund. As a community development financial institution (CDFI), we recognize that minority and woman-owned businesses are most likely to face barriers to credit and have the greatest need for funding, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why we’re proud that 80% of the grantees are minority-owned and 83% are woman-owned.

We recently followed up with the grantees to find out how their businesses are doing and how the grant funds helped. We were happy to learn that the funds allowed them to pay staff, pay rent, obtain PPE and other materials required to operate during the pandemic, secure inventory, and do online marketing. More specifically, the businesses were able to pay a total of 55 months’ rent and pay 71 employees.

One of the grantees, Gogo’s Retread Threads, is a mobile vintage clothing shop that has been operating out of a van for ten years. The business was hit hard when they were suddenly unable to vend at festivals and farmers markets, where they make a majority of their sales. Owner Stacey Chambers was spending a lot of time and energy trying to adapt her businesses model, and jumped at the chance for grant assistance. She explains, “My business made less than 30% of what it made in 2019. In addition to paying for portions of my rent and a little for myself, if I didn’t have that grant I wouldn’t be able to pay for event fees, insurance, and goods to be able to sell this year.”

Rent was a major concern for many small businesses, including the Pyatt Group, a consulting firm with expertise in public relations and engagement and business development training. The Pyatt Group was dependent on government and private clients compensating them for services rendered in order to pay rent for its office space. Owner Vanessa Pyatt started to worry when a huge government project for which they were subcontracted came to a halt, and other clients were unable to pay for services; in fact, she afraid the business might close if they couldn’t find a way to cover rent and associated costs. Ms. Pyatt was greatly relieved to receive the grant, saying, “I would have been forced to terminate my lease 6 months before it expired. The funds provided a bridge to keep my work space while I looked for a small business loan. My rent is covered through the end of the lease with some breathing room while we await the start up of several new contracts.”

Baltimore Community Lending, in partnership with Truist Cares, is pleased to be able to assist these entrepreneurs. We are committed to cultivating a diverse, economically balanced city by supporting its many small businesses, including our COVID-19 relief grantees:


• Baltimore Beauty Bubble, LLC
• Baltimore Fitness Concepts, LLC
• Benedetto, Inc.
• Breaking Bread, LLC
• Culinary Architecture Partners, LLC
• Diaspora Salon, LLC
• Fashion Spa House, Inc.
• Fran’s Organic Bodycare, LLC
• Ganesh Bhagwan, Inc. (Mount Everest Restaurant)
• Gogos Retread Threads, LLC
• Harford Business Center, LLC
• Higher Ground Transportation Services, Inc.
• Jody Davis J.D., Inc.
• Keller Professional Services, Inc.
• Koko, Inc. (Brown Rice)
• KWJW Distributors, LLC
• The National Great Blacks In Wax Museum, Inc.
• Pinkett’s Assisted Living, LLC
• Prop Prep Properties, LLC
• The Pyatt Group, LLC
• Raslami Global Concepts, LLC
• RCM Productions, LLC
• Sachs Design, LLC
• Say It With a Clown and Balloons
• Silver Queen Café, LLC
• Studio 7 The Salon, LLC
• Tri-Hearts Counseling, LLC
• Vida Don, LLC
• Work Printing And Graphics, Inc.
• YBI African Apparel & Fashions, LLC

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