If you wanted to pick out a business that was a slam dunk for a Payroll Protection Act loan-grant, NERDIT NOW would be the first pick.
The business co-founded byMarkevis Gideonhas been featured on this site and other media outlets. It has evolved from a tech repair and refurbishment shop based in a former ambulance to a retail business with a social mission.
The company made its way to ABC’s Shark Tank show. While the pitch failed to get funding, NERDITNOW ended up with a high profile in Delaware’s small business circles.
When the state of emergency came along, NERDITNOW sprung into action and secured grants for its nonprofit activities.The company has been working to bridge a technology divide that has become a Grand Canyon thanks to stay at home orders and school closings.
But as a recent story in Technical.ly Delaware noted, NERDITNOW came up mostly empty in applying for the Payroll Protection Act funding, which partially or fully forgives loans for companies that kept staff on the payroll.
The business located in Stanton finally received $5,000 thanks to a relationship with a credit union.
As a mid-May New York Times story noted, NERDEITNOW was not alone. A low percentage of minority-owned businesses received PPPs.
NERDITNOW came up mostly empty in applying for the Payroll Protection Act funding, which partially or fully forgives loans for companies that kept staff on the payroll.
Other companies fared better. In a provocative post in Technical.ly, the owner of a Wilmington video production house called himself a “looter”for legally securing $177,000 in PPP funding.
The coverage of the financial divide largely disappeared with the death of George Floyd at the knee of a Minneapolis policeman. Gideon’s story might have gone untold had Technical.ly not received funding from the nonprofit Wilmington Alliance.
Overall, thousands of PPP loans-grants were issued in Delaware totaling $1.4 billion and cushioned the crippling blow caused by the virus and business closing orders.
Still, the structure of the PPP did not help minority-owned firms. The program uses financial institutions to process applications and many firms do not have banking relationships that would have speeded things along.
Early on, a number of large companies with large support staffs and strong lending relationships legally scooped up money. Public shaming led to some of that money being returned as rules were tightened.
Gideon told Technical.ly that NERDEITNOW is in that uncomfortable place that comes when a business moves beyond start-up status that sometimes offers multiple funding options and actually adds overhead.
The situation facing such businesses is getting a response as the clock clicks down.
As funding for the PPP runs out, the Small Business Administration, which has been taking heat for the minority and rural area funding gap, asked lenders to do more.
The question is how many NERDEITNOWs will struggle and perhaps disappear, despite making a big difference in the communities where they operate? – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.