BROOKLYN, N.Y. - Multi-tiered cakes are the specialty at BCakeNY in Prospect Heights. But with large events canceled because of the pandemic, owner Miriam Millord had to return all the deposits she received for orders and downsize.
"We're doing really small wedding cakes that sometimes are only for two people," said Millord. “What we did to pivot and adjust the business was basically change our whole concept from this large size cake to just very small at home celebration cake."
BCakeNY is one of the many mom and pop businesses in the city struggling now. The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce predicts 35 percent of the borough's 63,000 businesses may not reopen after the pandemic. Most at risk are those that did not qualify for government assistance.
"We recognize that going into the recovery that these businesses are going to need access to financing because they can't get commercial loans anywhere else," said Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President Randy Peers.
“So many small businesses and women owned, minority owned businesses are historically under banked, under supported so they're really having a hard time receiving those grants or loans," Millord added.
So this month the Brooklyn Chamber launched the Bring Back Brooklyn Fund, which is a lending program that will provide no interest loans of $500 to $30,000.
"Our criteria is a lot more flexible for banks and you don't need a lot of collateral. You don't need high credit scores. It's a much more flexible loan program for businesses to really access," Peers explained.
Unlike the federal Payroll Protection Program, which requires that 75 percent of the loan be used for payroll, the Chamber money can be used for any overhead costs. Right now the fund has about $185,000. The money is being raised through a crowdsourcing campaign.
"Everything that we know that makes Brooklyn special and our neighborhoods special is really at stake," said Peers. "So this is a way for everyday Brooklynites to contribute and get back those businesses."
For information go to BringBackBrooklyn.org. The application process for funding begins in mid-June.