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Published in Small Business
Lucinda Weaver, the owner of Cindy's Chicken Coop restaurant in Grand Rapids. She benefited from the first loan program rolled out this spring by the Grand Rapids Opportunity for Women economic development nonprofit. Lucinda Weaver, the owner of Cindy's Chicken Coop restaurant in Grand Rapids. She benefited from the first loan program rolled out this spring by the Grand Rapids Opportunity for Women economic development nonprofit. COURTESY PHOTO

GROW rolls out second round of COVID relief to small businesses

BY Monday, September 14, 2020 10:14am

GRAND RAPIDS — Grand Rapids Opportunity for Women is accepting applications through Sept. 26 for its ReStart Kent loan program. 

The loans are designed to help small businesses affected by the pandemic borrow up to $10,000 for working capital. The program features a low interest rate and no origination fee, while the first six months of payments are covered by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

This is the second round of pandemic related funding from the economic development nonprofit. GROW awarded 28 loans this spring totaling $235,000 in Grand Rapids and Muskegon. Of those, 75 percent of borrowers were of low to moderate income, 80 percent went to women-owned businesses, and 40 percent went to businesses owned by people of color. 

The loans have been crucial for sustaining borrowers who struggled to access traditional capital or federal aid throughout the pandemic. 

Lucinda Weaver, owner of Cindy’s Chicken Coop restaurant in Grand Rapids, was a recipient of GROW’s first coronavirus loan program. The funds kept her afloat during the shutdown and helped her equip the restaurant to safely reopen. 

“To know I could rely on GROW in my time of need felt so wonderful,” Weaver said. “I want other people to benefit. We can get through this by helping each other.”  

The restaurant known for its fried chicken was temporarily shut down for eight weeks because of the pandemic. Weaver faced the possibility of having to shut down for good. 

“I am not computer savvy, so I was worried I didn’t fill out the questions right and so on,” Weaver said. “But GROW guided me through, and I was so excited when I received the funds. It took so much weight off of me.”

In addition to the ReStart Kent loan, GROW has partnered with the Community Foundation for Muskegon County and the SBA to create the Muskegon County Recovery Loan, a similar loan product for small businesses in the Muskegon area. Applications for both loans are available online at GROW’s website. 

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