The Pandemic Relief Fund aims to help revive closed Ann Arbor businesses
ANN ARBOR, MI – It wasn’t long before Dave Lin’s entrepreneurship took off after he closed his Bubble Island tea cafe in Ann Arbor due to the economic pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lin, former owner of Bubble Island and former CEO of Espresso Royale, which was also closed because of the pandemic, started a new company to help people who are forced to make difficult decisions because of the pandemic, just like him.
“We’re on a mission to bring back 100 companies,” said Lin, founder of the COVID Rescue Fund.
The company’s goal is to provide $ 100,000 in grants to people who have lost their business due to the pandemic.
“Of the 100,000 companies that have gone under since the pandemic, many of these people will actually be able to restart, but there are many people who fall through the cracks,” Lin said.
While there are many state and federal grants and loan options for businesses in trouble, Lin sees his company as an opportunity to help small businesses that have already perished and their owners and employees who need to think about what to do next to do is their own.
Hearing the stories of small business owners who have had to stop their dreams resonates with your own story, Lin said.
“I’m not a rich person. I can’t write checks for these people, but maybe there is some way to come up with something that could fill that void, ”Lin said.
The company is crowdsourced through its website and will distribute money to monthly winners as determined by a free vote.
Once a month, the COVID Rescue Fund plans to pool all of the votes cast for a geographic region or a lost business.
The votes represent half of the score for each company, while the other half of the score is determined by the financial information provided on the application, Lin said. The company is on track to provide the first grants soon, he said.
“The sooner we can get donors, the faster we can use the grants,” Lin said.
The winners will receive a $ 100,000 grant to reopen their closed businesses and can even start something brand new, Lin said. Any business owner can apply for a grant on the COVID Rescue Fund website, which takes around five minutes.
Lin is looking for more donations to distribute the first round of funding, but already has potential companies that have a chance to get them. One of its first applicants, Aum Yoga in Ann Arbor, is one of Jessie Lipkowitz.
After running the studio on South University Avenue for eight years, Lipkowitz said 2020 will be the toughest year for her as a small business owner.
Despite hours of uploading free content to YouTube while offering subscription-based courses with real-time teachers, the pandemic forced Lipkowitz to give up her studio space, she said.
“If your landlord isn’t willing to work with you, people are paying really high rents in hopes that they’ll open again soon,” Lin said.
The COVID Rescue Fund has other applicants and is looking for more, Lin said.
“I see a pretty short funding window, so I hope we can raise enough money for the rescue fund and that I can spend the next few years helping people make it available,” Lin said.
The ultimate goal, Lin said, is to use the donations to help as many business owners and their employees as possible get back on their feet.
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