Philadelphia’s COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund – What You Need To Know

Today the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) announced an Emergency Relief Fund for Small Businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some grants and no-interest loans are being made available. 24HrPHL’s Michael Fichman spoke with James Onofrio of the Commerce Department regarding some issues specific to independent artists, freelancers, and creative spaces/venues. We also learned about the application procedure.

You can access the application here: Philadelphia COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund

Here’s is what you need to know about this program and how to apply if you are eligible:


If your Philadelphia business makes less than $5 Million per year in gross revenue, you are eligible. Even if you do not have a legal structure to your business, and you are a freelancer making 1099 income (aka “Schedule C” income) you are eligible to apply.

The City is prioritizing certain types of applicants. Here are their priorities, described on the application portal:

  • The number of jobs that the business sustains during a normal business cycle (pre-COVID-19 levels).
  • The business demonstrates that it has lost a significant share (50% or more) of revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • The business demonstrates a strong chance of remaining open post COVID-19.
  • The business has experienced loss of revenue from other situations in addition to COVID-19, such as recent public works projects (i.e. water main breaks, utility repairs, street closures).
  • The business provides jobs to low-income individuals and/or is located in a zip code with high poverty.
  • The business has operated consistently for two years or more. 
  • For sole proprietors/independent contractors, priority will be given to those who are located in zip codes with high poverty and/or those that sustain multiple sub-contractors during normal business (pre-COVID-19 levels).

Even if you do not think you are a priority applicant, but you are eligible, you should apply. Freelancers and independent artists – this means you. This way the City can understand the type and number of people who need help and target subsequent programs to the right people. The City has been clear that they can re-shape the priorities to this program if need be.

How To Apply:

To apply, you must provide a signed federal tax return and have a Philadelphia Tax Account number to complete the application. If you do not have a Tax Account, you can visit the City’s website to get one. If you are a business grossing more than $500k/year, you will also need to provide certain other financial documents. You will also need to complete a short written statement about how your business has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and how you intend to use the funds to help your business recover.

Applications are being processed on a first-come, first-served basis. The people at the Commerce Department are working hard to process what they can, but you may not receive an immediate answer.

Types Of Funding:

There are three sub-programs and they apply to three different categories of business. There is a single application and your eligibility is related to the gross yearly revenue of your business.

If you make less than $500,000/year in gross revenue, you are eligible for a $5,000 Microenterprise Grant. This is a grant. You do not have to pay it back. I believe it can be issued via Direct Deposit. This describes most freelance artists.

If your business has yearly gross revenue between $500,000 and $3 Million, you are eligible for a Small Business Grant up to $25,000. You will be required to show some of your books to demonstrate your cash flow needs and show proof of certain insurance.

If your business has yearly gross revenue between $3-5 Million, you are eligible for a no-interest loan of up to $100,000. with no collateral requirements You will be required to show some of your books to demonstrate your cash flow needs and show proof of certain insurance.

Good luck, and stay safe and indoors. Live stream a local DJ, drop money in the tip jar, and contribute to the funds for your local businesses’ GoFundMe campaigns.

24HrPHL needs your help. There are other resources for emergency subsidy that we are currently compiling, we are working on a survey to catalog the work and money lost in this crisis, and we need volunteers to help connect people to these resources. Please contact us at 24HrPHL (at) gmail (dot) com

2 Replies to “Philadelphia’s COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund – What You Need To Know”

  1. Good Morning,

    I see that this is for any applicant that has a business in the city of Philadelphia. My questions is, is this program extended to the suburbs of philadelphia? I Iive and have a small photography business in Cheltenham, and I would like to be a part of your program, but I don’t know if I qualify. Please contact me if I am or if you know of a similar program for my area. Thank you.

    1. This program is for City businesses only – perhaps there are some programs from Montgomery County or PA that you could access.

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