IFF: How did COVID-19 and the related shutdowns affect your organization?
McKillip: The impacts were pretty immediate and dramatic. Unlike traditional CDCs, we don’t receive government funding; we are predominantly self-generating our funding through events and programing. Almost immediately, all of our programming ceased to exist, which meant lost sponsorship dollars and lost ticket revenue. We were in a position where a staff person had left us at the end of the year, and because of that revenue shortage, we were unable to fill that vacant position. Ultimately, we had no hope in sight of being able to fill that position, until Andre Gibson with IFF reached out and gave us a pathway to the PPP loan.
IFF: Why did you decide to pursue a PPP loan, and how do you think it will help your agency?
McKillip: Just before things got shut down, we had begun interviewing applicants for our vacant position – which was really critical because we are a very small organization with only two employees. At the time of our PPP application, I was the only employee, and we serve a community of about 12 square miles with 17 neighborhoods. That’s a little taxing for one individual to do in a meaningful way. The PPP funds really helped us to get that filled immediately.
IFF: What was your experience like in getting the PPP loan?
We were beginning to give up hope … until we received Joe’s email.
We were already a longtime client – we have two mortgages with IFF – but we hadn’t had contact with IFF for some time. I was one of IFF’s earliest PPP applicants, and there were some snafus with the system allowing me to upload documents, but IFF and CRF were super responsive, guided me through the whole process, and the funds were in our account in under 10 days. Andre Gibson was practically magical. It was a tremendous process.
IFF: What’s one thing you’ve learned in this climate?
McKillip: It’s been amazing to watch how resilient our community has been, navigating and doing their best to get through this. But it’s been a really difficult time – we’ve lost 25-30 restaurant and retail operators, one of which had been in business since 1932. What’s really struck me is the depth of the systemic inequity in access to resources. All levels of government are offering assistance to small businesses and nonprofits, but if you don’t have an IFF or a CRF helping guide them through it, it’s really hard to access those resources. Same thing with individuals – you have well-meaning corporations trying to offer free Internet to community members so their kids could go to school, but then it’s only free if you haven’t been disconnected and don’t have an outstanding balance. I’ve come to appreciate is just how fragile our existence has been leading up to COVID.
All levels of government are offering assistance to small businesses and nonprofits, but if you don’t have an IFF or a CRF helping guide them through it, it’s really hard to access those resources.