Helping small businesses weather the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic is a priority for state and local governments. Millions of SMBs around the country had to shutter their doors and will need financial support to remain in business after the pandemic. As of 2018, there were 30.2 million small businesses (with less than 500 employees) operating in the United States. SMBs account for 99.9% of all U.S. businesses and employ 49.2% of the nation’s workforce.
According to analysts, the support packages will have to be larger than the New Deal programs that followed in the wake of the Great Depression. Congress has already approved more than $350 billion in emergency lending to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), but it won’t be enough to save most of the nation’s SMBs. To survive the coming months will require a coordinated effort from local, state, and federal governments.
Government Programs for Small Business Relief
The nation’s businesses face an unprecedented disruption to their economic activity. To alleviate some of the burdens, the federal government established the CARES Act on March 27, 2020. In total, the act contains $376 billion in business relief funding. Under the CARES Act, the SBA could establish several temporary government programs to help SMBs survive the economic downturn.
Small business relief programs funded by the CARES Act include:
● Payment Protection Program (PPP) – Provides loan forgiveness to companies that retain employees with a temporary expansion of the SBA 7(a) loan program.
● Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and emergency advance – Offers a temporary relief program for companies that facing difficulties of up to $10,000.
● Express Bridge Loan Program – Allows businesses that have a relationship with an SBA Express Lender, this program can provide up to $25,000 of relief quickly.
● Debt Relief on existing SBA loans – Gives automatic debt relief to organizations owing current 7(a), 504, and microloans if they haven’t used the EIDL or PPP programs.
The SBA debt deferment program will provide automatic relief until December 31, 2020. For the other programs, organizations should visit the SBA site and check their eligibility. With the EDIL programs, the SBA will process applications on a first-come, first-served policy. Currently, they are only accepting applications from agricultural businesses due to funding constraints based on the sheer volume of requests already received.
State and Local Government Help for Small Business
States and local governments are also attempting to help their small businesses survive. Programs from the state and local government levels are unique to the area, so companies should check what relief is available to them in their region. Some of the programs available include:
Emergency Relief Grants and Loans
While businesses wait on federal relief, local governments started providing grants and loans to put cash into companies as soon as possible. Programs help with immediate assistance to organizations to tide them over while they wait for more comprehensive federal funding to become available.
Many states and local governments have financial aid for businesses, but organizations will need to verify the terms and conditions before signing up for a local program. Check what the repayment schedules are, how much interest the company will have to pay, and whether there’ll be a balloon payment required in the future.
A program by the City of Lakewood in Ohio used grants of up to $3,000 for commercial rent relief. Using the city’s Economic Development Fund and the Federal Community Development Block Grants, the program ran from March 23 to March 27 before it had to close due to the volume of applications.
Moratoriums on Eviction and Foreclosure Practices
In some states and cities, governments moved to prevent small businesses from facing eviction due to late rent payments. California left the decision up to individual cities, leading to San Francisco, Los Angeles, and other counties implementing eviction halts.
Preventing a Loss of Supply from Utilities
Additionally, some local governments instructed utility companies to continue supplying commercial tenants with services to help businesses survive the pandemic. Some members from the House and Senate were also pushing for a national moratorium on water disconnects, as washing hands regularly is currently a public health concern.
Other Cost-Saving Strategies Small Businesses Can Adopt
The uncertainty that comes with a global pandemic remains a significant concern for SMBs. Building resilience into the company’s operating models can help reduce the economic impacts that businesses are facing. Reviewing the company’s existing workflows and digital infrastructure can help the organization to reduce its operating overheads and streamline processes to improve productivity.
Companies should review their document management processes and print environments, possibly moving to a Managed Print Services (MPS) solution. To improve their workforce’s digital operations, Managed I.T. Services and ECM tools can improve the company’s technology stack, enabling staff to remain productive in a variety of situations, including work-from-home scenarios.
Blue Technologies in Ohio help organizations to regain control over runaway print costs and improve their operational workflows for maximum efficiency. We also work with companies to improve their business resilience, secure their information networks, and ensure they have adequate disaster recovery processes in place. For companies getting ready to reopen in the coming weeks and months, now may be a great time to leverage new technology and improve business operations post-pandemic.
While there are government programs and business relief grants available, you may also want to review your operational workflows before reopening.
For assistance with your review, request an assessment from Blue Technologies today.