COVID-19 loan program helps DJ get back in the mix

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — DJ Blaze feels at home behind his turntable. 

“That’s the ultimate high, when they’re dancing and feeling the music,” the DJ said. “I can’t explain the feeling.”

His love of music dates to the 1980s.  

“I used to call into the (radio) station and request Fat Boys and LL Cool J and Salt-N-Pepa,” Blaze said. 

The Grand Rapids-based DJ turned that passion into a job, but his performances were put out by COVID-19 shutdowns. 

“I was going to do an afterparty for 50 Cent in Las Vegas last year, but the week before I was going to go out there the coronavirus hit and all the clubs in Las Vegas shut down,” Blaze said.

Locally, gigs dried up as well. 

He reached out to lending company Rende Progress Capital to see if he would qualify for a “Race4Progress” loan. The relief program addresses COVID-19 and exclusion.

“We see in our loan apps and discussions with business owners of color that there are many in our portfolio that went to other avenues or programs for PPP and were not approved,” said Eric Foster, the chair, co-founder and managing director of RPC. “We have a different set of criteria and we’re able to help them. Some have come to us by being denied by others.”

“You’re more than a credit score and they looked at everything other than the credit,” Blaze said.

The loan program has doled out more than $250,000 to recipients.

“Probably almost close to 15 businesses we have deployed about 280,000 (dollars) in our relief lending,” Foster said. “Ranges from $10,000 to $35,000 loans to help those entrepreneurs of color.”

The loan is helping DJ Blaze get new gear. 

“New speakers, new microphones, lights and all types of stuff,” he said.

He has a busy summer schedule.

“June and July is the wedding season,” says Blaze. “Booked for the whole month of June.”

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