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New website launched to help businesses apply for grants and loans

New website launched to help businesses apply for grants and loans

Businesses suffering financially from COVID-19 restrictions can now use a new website designed to help in applying for relief. 

LiveStories, a civics analytics platform, has launched FORWARD, a website that connects businesses to resources like grants, deferments and loans, and includes links to applications. The site tells the business whether it is eligible for the assistance and tracks the progress of the resource, streamlining the entire process. 

Livestories Founder and CEO Adnan Mahmud, Moline Mayor Stephanie Acri, East Moline Mayor Reggie Freeman and Rock Island Mayor Mike Thoms introduced the website through a ZOOM teleconference Thursday.

"We are one of the first in the nation to bring this innovative program to our businesses," Thoms said. "Rock Island will have 1,100 businesses invited to participate. We already have heard from most of them that it's working well. We are all working together. I want businesses to know they can contact us at any time to help them through this process."

Freeman said the Livestories platform will simplify the search process of businesses seeking financial assistance. 

"It will minimize the stress of business owners and provides a one-stop shop to see what resources are available and helps facilitate the application process," Freeman said. 

Acri said she is glad the cities of Moline, East Moline and Rock Island were able to launch the program together in an effort to help support businesses. 

"There is a lot of information out there and it can be overwhelming for business owners," Acri said. "FORWARD will generate available funding sources based on the individual business profile, so each business owner sees only those resources that apply to them."

Mahmud said 1,200 to 1,300 invitations have been sent to Quad-City businesses to participate in the platform, with more than 4,000 business profiles already created. 

Thoms said 118 Quad-City businesses have been testing the website and providing feedback. 

Thoms spoke about the platform during the May 11 Rock Island city council meeting, noting the site will help eliminate red tape and speed up the application process. 

"This program makes it a lot simpler to research programs that are out there by the city, county, state and the federal government," he said. "We've added a number of other programs to it, also. 

"The business can fill out their profile and the software will find out if they are eligible for any of these (loans). It saves the small business time from doing research. This makes it very easy; kind of a one-stop shop to go see what resources are available for your business. We're very excited about this."

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