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Tucson Helping Tucson (THT) Movement to benefit CIC creating a “Pay it Back to Pay it Forward” Small Business Emergency Fund


April 16, 2020

Danny Knee, Executive Director

Community Investment Corporation



Tucson Helping Tucson (THT) Movement to benefit Community Investment Corporation (CIC) 

Local Movement creating a “Pay it Back to Pay it Forward” Small Business Emergency Fund

[Tucson, Arizona]: A grassroots, local community movement, Tucson Helping Tucson, is teaming up with local nonprofit lender, Community Investment Corporation (CIC), to raise emergency loan and grant funds to support Tucson’s small business and creative communities through the devastating impact of closures related to COVID-19 in Tucson and surrounding areas. THT is a diverse group of local professionals, business owners, musicians, and creatives who immediately saw the financial sacrifices businesses were making in the wake of restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19 and wanted to do something to help.

THT created a fundraiser in the form of a weekly variety show called THT TV that streams live on Facebook every Saturday night from 7-8:30 p.m. Locally inspired, locally driven and locally produced, the show features local musicians, artists, and other creatives as well as local business owners.

The funds raised will go to a revolving loan and grant fund housed at the Community Investment Corporation. CIC is a nonprofit economic development organization dedicated to the prosperity of Pima County and the surrounding area since 1996. Funds raised will provide critical and nimble support to local entities through zero-interest loans and small grants.

“Tucson’s identity and our economic prosperity are tied so closely to our local small businesses,” said Danny Knee, Executive Director of CIC. With published estimates that as many as 50% of all small businesses could close depending on the duration of containment efforts required for public safety, Knee explained that “the goal is to get funds into the hands of businesses as quickly as possible to keep them afloat.”

The idea for THT was originally conceived by Tom Heath of The Heath Team at Nova Home Loans. “Tucson just wouldn’t be Tucson without the local small business and creative communities. They are our local flavor and what makes us special,” Heath said. “Our goal is to provide local creatives paid opportunities to share newly created digital content and to build a significant fund to support small businesses with loans and grants, all while bringing the community together for some homegrown entertainment and connection.”

The loans THT is raising funds for will be zero interest, nonrecourse loans. “They are more pledges, than loans,” remarked Heath. “Our idea is that when businesses are ready and making money again, they would use a small percentage of their revenues to pay our loan back so that we can help another business in need.”

“We call it ‘paying it back to pay it forward,’” said Knee, adding that it is the idea behind many of the community-oriented revolving loan funds his organization manages. All of the funds raised and repaid by businesses will be used to create an ongoing emergency loan fund for future community uses beyond COVID-19.

CIC committed $200,000 of funding for COVID-19 relief loans which THT is now working to match and surpass through its community fundraising efforts.

To date, the partnership has already helped six small businesses including Five Points Market, Dish for Dosha and BK Promotional Solutions, Inc.  Two of the loans were completed through what CIC calls a “community backed loan program partnership” with Kiva US and Tucson Kiva Hub, Growth Partners Arizona. These particular loans were funded by individual community members who were able to loan their own money with a minimum investment of just $25 to the COVID-19 affected businesses.

“The community’s generosity is incredible,” said Carie Davis, CIC’s Director of Alternative Business Funding. “We’re hoping this unique approach of allowing people to either donate to our fund or lend directly to the businesses will create a bigger pool of funding to help.”

When safety permits, THT plans to produce a major three-day virtual event for the community to celebrate all that we are and all that we have overcome. THT partners include, Brink Media, Local First Arizona, Tucson Metro Chamber, Hotel Congress, Roux Events, Keri Silvyn, the Comic Bookmobile and many more.

About CIC: Community Investment Corporation is a nonprofit economic development organization dedicated to the prosperity of Pima County and the surrounding area since 1996. Committed to expanding economic opportunities, CIC pursues three distinct program areas including support and financing for entrepreneurship/small business, homeownership and education. CIC’s goal is to promote economic inclusion for all members of southern Arizona, regardless of socioeconomic status. Specifically, CIC’s work ensures that more people in the community can get the funding they need to start, sustain, and grow their small businesses, can buy homes, and can access the education they want for their children. We fund YOUR dreams!