Where to get help: Pandemic relief for small and midsize businesses

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Running a small business is tough in the best of times. As the COVID-19 pandemic wreaks havoc across the globe, it’s become more challenging than ever.

With local governments ordering people to shelter in place and restricting activity to only essential services, many small and midsize businesses are struggling. Restaurants are forced to pivot to take-out only orders, service providers like hairstylists and music instructors are idled, and scores of small shops are shuttered until further notice.

The prospect of being out of business for weeks on end has many wondering how they can possibly stay afloat.

Local and state governments, along with the federal government, have begun offering assistance for business owners. But with events unfolding daily, it can be hard to know where to start when you need help.

Here are the resources we’ve found so far. We will add to this list as we hear of more. (Editor note: Updated March 29).

COVID-19 assistance: Pandemic relief for small and midsize business

U.S. Small Business Administration – The SBA has set up a dedicated page that lists of pandemic response guidance and loan resources. The agency will offer small businesses and nonprofits hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic with targeted, low-interest loans of up to $2 million. Federal lawmakers are working on a variety of relief packages that include funding for SBA loans.

The massive $2 trillion pandemic relief bill signed by President Donald Trump March 27 aims to help small businesses in several ways, including a 50% refundable payroll tax credit on worker wages, delayed payroll taxes, and expanded unemployment insurance benefits.

Internal Revenue Service – The IRS has established a special section on its website to provide information to taxpayers and businesses impacted by the pandemic. The big news is that the IRS is automatically granting a three-month reprieve for tax payments of up to $1 million. The IRS requires that taxpayers still file their returns on April 15, but is giving them until July 15 to pay.

California – The state has a broad range of relief measures and resources for small businesses needing help overcoming economic injury due to COVID-19. The California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank (IBank) Small Business Finance Center has a disaster relief loan guarantee program and a small loan program. Employers forced to close their business or lay off workers due to COVID-19 can seek help from America’s Job Center of California Rapid Response program, and ask for a 60-day extension to file their state payroll reports and/or deposit state payroll taxes without penalty or interest.

WashingtonWashington is allowing employers to request an extension on their tax filing from the state Department of Revenue, which also can waive penalties under certain circumstances if a business is late in paying its tax obligation. The Seattle Office of Economic Development offers grants of up to $10,000.

New York City – Businesses with fewer than 100 employees that have suffered sales losses of 25% or more can apply for zero-interest loans of up to $75,000. The city also is offering employers with fewer than five employees a grant to cover 40% of payroll costs for two months.

San Francisco – The city’s COVID-19 Small Business Resiliency Fund offers up to $10,000 for employee salaries and rent to businesses with five or fewer employees. The mayor also announced a moratorium on commercial evictions for small and midsize businesses impacted by the pandemic.

Massachusetts – The state set up a $10 million Small Business Recovery Loan Fund to provide up to $75,000 in emergency capital to businesses and nonprofits with less than 50 employees impacted by the pandemic.

Michigan — Beginning April 1, the Michigan Small Business Relief Program will provide up to $20 million to small businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19. The fund is divided evenly between grants and loans.

Florida — The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program will provide short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses impacted by the pandemic. The loans are designed to help bridge the gap until a business can secure other financial resources. Florida has allocated up to $50 million for the program.

Chicago — The major announced a $100 million economic relief package to support small businesses in the city that are experiencing revenue loss due to COVID-19. The new Chicago Small Business Resiliency Loan Fund, in partnership with the Catalyst Fund, will provide low-interest loans. The relief package also includes extended due dates for business-related taxes.

Facebook – The social media giant is offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits for 30,000 small businesses, but hasn’t yet detailed eligibility requirements.

Many other technology companies have stepped up during the crisis to offer various means of assistance to businesses that need help, including Microsoft, which is offering its a free version of Teams, and Google, which began providing free access to its advanced Hangouts Meet videoconferencing capabilities to its G Suite and G Suite for Education customers until July 1.

Banks and credit card companies are also providing assistance, including Citi, which will waive monthly service fees for small business customers for 30 days. Capital One and many others have indicated that they are willing to work with customers dealing with financial hardship at this time.

Of course, there are many other resources available at the global level. Canada announced an $18 billion relief package that includes help for thousands of Canadian businesses struggling during the pandemic. The government there will subsidize wages for small businesses and nonprofits to prevent layoffs, and will provide loans, guarantees, and insurance.

Pandemic relief efforts in the United Kingdom include small business grants and a refund of up to two week of sick pay for employee absence due to COVID-19.

Stay informed on data, thought leadership, and business-related updates surrounding COVID-19 HERE.

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Marcia Savage
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Marcia Savage

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