For small business owners, a changing resource landscape


Small businesses across the United States have been hit hard by the pandemic. Entrepreneurs have been forced to make drastic cuts and look to new business models to keep going. Financial aid, however, is what kept the lights on.

But today, many sources, including private foundations and the federal government, that once offered loans and grants have either closed their financial aid programs or suspended them.

The biggest player, the Small Business Administration Paycheque Protection Program (PPP), closed in August, and Congress did not accept additional aid. If there is no agreement, it will be up to the new administration to negotiate an aid plan at the end of January.

This has put small business owners in a difficult position. After closing her business storefront for three months, a PPP loan helped Destiny Burns, 56, the founder of the four-year-old CLE Urban Winery in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, stay afloat.

In June, Ms. Burns received a small PPP loan and money from the Economic Disaster Loan Program. “I have stabilized my business operations and the EIDL loan proceeds give me a cash cushion which has been of immeasurable help to me and allowed me to sleep at night,” she said.

She used the funds to invest in an improved website with enhanced e-commerce capabilities and installed UV light filtration systems in the cellar air handlers.

She recently applied for a Small Business Assistance Grant, designed to provide relief to Ohio businesses that have been affected by the pandemic.

In late October, Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio designated up to $ 125 million in state funding received from the federal government Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) provide grants of $ 10,000 to for-profit businesses with 25 or fewer employees. There is also a $ 2,500 grant available for bars and restaurants (active liquor licensees only).

Ms. Burns also applies for PPP loan remission. “My loan was well under $ 50,000, so I can use this ‘simplified’ form that was recently released,” she said. “It’s always a complicated and intimidating process.”

For now, it is open for business with reduced hours and capacity. “But I’m hanging on there,” Ms. Burns said. “I’m still in a revenue hole, however, for 2020 from last year – a drop of about 30 percent year over year.

“Coronavirus cases are on the rise in Ohio right now, so I don’t know how it’s going to play out – we’ll see,” she added.

Here is an overview of the resources available to small business owners like Ms. Burns. Keep in mind that the rules keep changing.

The PPP program is closed. For small business operators who have received one, the loans are repayable; in essence, they are turned into grants, if the funds were used for salary costs, mortgage interest, rent and utilities (part of the amount handed over must have been used for payroll).

Originally, loans were to be used within eight weeks of receiving the money. This deadline was extended to 24 weeks by the PPP Flexibility Law, which also extended the deferral date of the first payment on the loan to 10 months after the end of the period covered, and the forgiveness of the loan application has been simplified.

The SBA has other useful offers. His Economic Disaster Loan Program provides up to six months of working capital, with a fixed interest rate of 3.75%. Payment can be deferred for one year, but interest will accrue. The loans have repayments of up to 30 years.

The agency also offers small businesses that have a relationship with an SBA express lender access to a bridging loan up to $ 25,000.

Apply online with the SBA website or at 800-659-2955. The site also has a phone book to find its local offices.

SCORE, a nonprofit organization affiliated with the SBA, provides a center of resilience for small businesses which lists financial tools and resources, as well as access to nationwide mentoring and education workshops. His website offers federal resources, including tax return assistance for small businesses affected by the pandemic.

State and city governments also offer grants and help centers. A good place to start is the US Chamber’s Save Small Business initiative. state-by-state guide, which describes the loans, grants, and funds that state and local governments – as well as private organizations – offer.

To learn more about resources, check out the offices of mayors and governors and the websites of state economic development agencies, which describe updates to relief programs.

In Virginia, for example, the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors offers small business grants of up to $ 15,000. They can help with rent or mortgage payments, reopening expenses, utilities, payroll, and other similar costs in the ordinary course of business. The deadline for applications is December 1.

the Rebuild the VA Grant Fund is a program to help small businesses and nonprofits whose operations have been disrupted by Covid-19. The Statewide Rebuild VA program is open to any small business or nonprofit with gross income of $ 10 million or less, or 250 employees or less. The maximum reward is $ 100,000.

Cities offer their own small business assistance programs. The New York City Department of Small Business Services, for example, can help businesses apply for loans and other financial products. There are free small-group and one-on-one consultations to help businesses assess and apply for financing and access special city-sponsored loans and grants.

the Neighborhood challenge is an effort created by the NYC Economic Development Corporation and New York Department of Small Business Services in collaboration with The Urban Tech Hub @ Business, and CIV: LAB crowdsourcing solutions to support city shopping districts and small storefront businesses. Project applications are accepted until December.

NYC Small Business Resource Network, a public-private network Partnership funded by a $ 2.8 million grant from the New York-based Peter G. Peterson Foundation and supported by in-kind contributions from other partners, works with local entrepreneurs “to gain access to a range of programs and services, “according to the website.

In San Francisco, businesses in certain neighborhoods can get up to $ 5,000 in reimbursement for past, current, or future work through the SF shines for reopening grant.

GoFundMe, fundraising Platform, started on Small Business Assistance Initiative, partnering with Yelp, Intuit QuickBooks, and GoDaddy to provide homeowners with grants and resources. GoFundMe, QuickBooks and Yelp each donated $ 500,000 to the Small Business Assistance Fund, and it is open to anyone to make a donation. There will also be matching grants of $ 500 to eligible businesses that raise at least $ 500 on GoFundMe.

IFundWomen, a crowdfunding Platform, grants micro-grants to women-led businesses, issued on an ongoing basis. Register on the site and click “launch a campaign” be considered for an emergency grant.

The Verizon Business Comeback Coach program offers free business services, including one-on-one coaching, video conferencing via Blue jeans for one month and two months free of A conversation, which connects desk phones to mobile devices. Yahoo Small Business Creator has a free website builder, as well as free domains and professional email addresses.

Despite these options, homeowners face daunting challenges, and many just stay in business. Much depends on the future of PPP loans.

“We have been successful so far,” said Carl Sobocinski, 52, founder of Table 301 Group of restaurants, which operates six restaurants in Greenville, SC

Last spring, Mr. Sobocinski put 80 percent of his 400 employees on leave. Management took a 20 percent pay cut and the menus were trimmed. He was also able to work with lenders to defer some of the company’s mortgage payments for three months.

The company is now breaking even, at about 65% of last year’s revenue of $ 22 million, and the employee roster is now 300.

“We applied for P3 funds early – a total of around $ 1 million, and it made all the difference in bringing our workforce back,” Sobocinski said. “Until we have another full stop, I think we’ll get there.”

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