Pensacola Magazine

COVID-19 Business Resources

By Kelly Oden

There can be no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has changed the face of small business in America and around the world. While no one knows what exactly this change will look like in the long term, businesses and their employees need aid and resources now to keep payroll going out so that owners and employees can maintain their homes and provide for their families. Here a few resources for workers and businesses to pursue.

Loan Programs for Small Business

SBA Small Business Disaster Loans

disasterloan.sba.gov/ela

SBA provides low-interest disaster loans to businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners, and renters. SBA disaster loans can be used to repair or replace the following items damaged or destroyed in a declared disaster: real estate, personal property, machinery and equipment, and inventory and business assets.

The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program

floridadisasterloan.org

The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program is currently available to small business owners located in all Florida counties statewide that experienced economic damage as a result of COVID-19. These short-term, interest-free working capital loans are intended to “bridge the gap” between the time a major catastrophe hits and when a business has secured longer term recovery resources, such as sufficient profits from a revived business, receipt of payments on insurance claims or federal disaster assistance.

Gulf Power / Northwest Florida Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Grant Program
The grant program was made possible by an initial contribution of $250,000 from Gulf Power through its economic development fund.
The grant program will provide up to $5,000 to help offset losses that small businesses may currently be experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Grant applications will be accepted April 8-15, 2020, and are available for download at www.sbdc.uwf.edu.
For more information about the program or assistance with completing the grant application, contact the Florida SBDC at UWF at 850-586-7802 or ahaider@uwf.edu.

Business Resources for Small Businesses

CDC Resources for businesses

Plan, prepare and respond to Covid-19 by reviewing the Centers for Disease Control Guidance for Small Business.

cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html

Economic Information

Keep up with economic forecasts and learn how you can lend a hand via the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

flchamber.com/follow-facts-not-fear/

uschamber.com/coronavirus

Price Gouging and Scams

Report price gauging and scams to the Florida Attorney General’s Price Gouging Hotline.

1(866) 9NO-SCAM

myfloridalegal.com

 

Innovative Solutions 

SaveFloridaBusiness.com’s Gift Card Bonds

 SaveFloridaBusiness.com’s mission to assist small business owners in weathering this storm that is the COVID-19 virus outbreak. This virus outbreak has forced restaurants, bars, hotels and many other businesses to close down with no financial support or recourse. Gift Card Bonds are a method by which businesses can gain access to immediate financial relief provided to them by their own loyal customer base. These gift cards work like a bond in that they appreciate in value. For example, a gift card is sold for $75 but has a value of $100 at “maturity.” The gift cards may be redeemed at the time the business re-opens (currently estimated to be May 1st, 2020). Customers can support their favorite local businesses by purchasing these gift cards and providing them with the revenue they need to keep the lights on and provide security to their employees.

Nationwide Resources

Inc. has been compiling a long list of resources available to businesses. Check out the full list at www.inc.com/inc-staff/free-tools-grants-video-conferencing-ad-credits-gift-certificates-cloud-storage-cyber-security.html. Here a few that may be helpful to local businesses:

Ad credits and grants

Facebook created a Small Business Grants Program that will provide $100 million in cash and ad credits to 30,000 businesses in the 30 countries where Facebook operates.

To help local restaurants and bars, Yelp announced $25 million in relief in the form of waived advertising fees, free advertising, and products and services.

GoFundMe, the social fundraising platform, has launched the Small Business Relief Initiative, partnering with Yelp to provide small-business owners with grants and resources. GoFundMe and Yelp have each donated $500,000 to the Small Business Relief Fund, and it is open for anyone to make a donation. There will also be $500 matching grants to qualifying businesses that raise at least $500 on GoFundMe.

James Beard Foundation, the national nonprofit culinary arts organization, has launched the Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund. The organization will draw support from corporate, foundation, and individual donors to offer micro-grants to restaurants, bars, and other independent businesses in the industry.

Stimulus Bill

On March 25, the Senate passed a $2 trillion stimulus bill to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. As of our print date, the bill still needed to be approved by the House. According to CNN, if that happens without changes, here is what the American public can expect.

Direct Stimulus

  • Single Americans would receive $1,200, married couples would get $2,400 and parents would see $500 for each child under age 17.
  • Payments would phase out for individuals with adjusted gross incomes of more than $75,000, and those making more than $99,000 would not qualify at all. The thresholds are doubled for couples.

Student Loans

  • The Department of Education would suspend payments on student loan borrowers without penalty through September 30.

Unemployment Benefits

  • The federal government would give unemployed workers an extra $600 a week for four months on top of their state benefits, which range from $200 to $550 a week, on average, depending on the state.
  • Lawmakers would also add up to 13 weeks of extended benefits, which would be fully covered by the federal government. Currently, state unemployment checks last up to between 12 weeks and 28 weeks, depending on the state.
  • The deal also calls for a new pandemic unemployment assistance program, which would provide jobless benefits to those who are unemployed, partially unemployed or unable to work because of the virus and don’t qualify for traditional benefits. This includes independent contractors and the self-employed, who typically don’t qualify for such assistance, and to gig economy workers, who aren’t eligible in many states.

Lending Program

  • The Treasury Department can provide $500 billion in loans, loan guarantees and investments.
  • That specifically includes $25 billion for passenger air carriers, $4 billion for cargo air carriers and $17 billion for businesses that work in national security. The rest of the funds, $454 billion, are given wide latitude to provide loans to businesses, states and municipalities.
  • The measure includes restrictions on businesses who receive the loans. Those businesses may not issue dividends for up to a year after the loan is no longer outstanding, and must retain 90 percent of employment levels as of March 24, “to the extent practicable,” through September 30. The loans also cannot last longer than five years.
  • There’s a specific provision in the program for direct loans to mid-sized businesses, defined as between 500 and 10,000 employees, as well as non-profit organizations, where no payments will be due for the first six months after the loan is issued.
  • A congressional oversight commission will monitor how the money is spent.

Hospitals

  • The stimulus package would provide about $117 billion for hospitals, according to an estimate from the American Hospital Association, which called it an important first step.
  • The bill creates a $100 billion public health and social emergency fund to reimburse providers for expenses and lost revenues related to the coronavirus pandemic. About $65 billion will go to hospitals, with the rest funneled to doctors, nurses, suppliers and others, the association said.
  • The legislation also boosts reimbursements by 20 percent for treating Medicare patients with coronavirus. And it eliminates $8 billion in scheduled payment reductions to hospitals caring for large numbers of uninsured and Medicaid patients, as well as temporarily removing a 2 percent cut for treating Medicare patients, which was part of the automatic budget cuts under sequestration.
  • The American Hospital Association, along with the American Medical Association and American Nurses Association, had asked Congress to provide $100 billion for health care personnel and providers to address the outbreak.

A Stay on Foreclosures and Evictions

  • The bill includes housing protections against foreclosures on mortgages and evictions for renters.
  • The bill states that anyone facing a financial hardship from coronavirus shall be given a forbearance on a federally backed mortgage loan of up to 60 days, which can be extended for four periods of 30 days each. The legislation says that servicers of federally backed mortgage loans may not begin the foreclosure process for 60 days from March 18.
  • The bill also does not allow fees, penalties or additional interest to be charged as a result of delayed payments. It includes similar protections for those with multifamily federal mortgage loans, allowing them to receive a 30-day forbearance and up to two 30-day extensions.
  • Those with federally backed mortgage loans who have tenants would also not be allowed to evict tenants solely for failure to pay rent for a 120-day period, and they may not charge fees or penalties to tenants for failing to pay rent.

This list is not exhaustive and is likely to change before the bill is enacted. Visit a trusted news source for more information as the situation progresses.

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