Businesses are facing extreme economic challenges and uncertainty due to the coronavirus. In response, financial relief and loan programs at the federal and state level aim to meet the needs of small businesses, which total over 30 million and account for 99.9% of all businesses in the U.S., per Fundera.
Beyond federal and state governments, several nonprofits and private organizations are getting involved as well, developing additional relief programs and donating funds.
The list below features major sources of financial relief for businesses struggling amidst the coronavirus. It will be updated regularly.
Federal government relief
The Paycheck Protection Program
A relief measure under The CARES Act, the Paycheck Protection Program, allocates 100% federally-backed loans to qualifying businesses to cover operational costs. The program is available to businesses with under 500 employees (including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed individuals), with a maximum loan amount equaling a company’s average monthly payroll costs during the one-year period before the date of the loan. Other program features include loan forgiveness, no collateral or personal guarantees, waived loan fees and deferred payments.
The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans
The Small Business Association (SBA), a federal agency dedicated to assisting business owners and entrepreneurs, is providing low-interest loans of up to $2 million to U.S. businesses impacted by the coronavirus. The SBA recently made it possible for businesses in all states to qualify for these loans due to the coronavirus, which wasn’t the case in previous weeks. Plus, the program got a $10 billion funding boost from The CARES Act.
The Main Street Lending Program
On April 9, the Federal Reserve Board announced details of the Main Street Lending Program to support small and medium-sized businesses. To qualify for a loan, businesses must have fewer than 10,000 employees or less than $2.5 billion in annual revenue. They also must meet requirements around keeping employees on their payroll and rehiring any workers they previously laid off.
Main Street loans will total $1-25 million and come with an annual interest rate of .01%, among other appealing terms. Banks are not yet accepting applications for Main Street loans, but lawyers recommend gathering payroll-related paperwork now so you’ll be ready to apply when the time comes.
Extended paid sick and family leave
On March 18, the Senate passed a bill that extends paid sick and family leave for employees, which includes restaurant workers.
The new policy includes:
Two weeks of full-pay sick and family leave to workers who are in quarantine or helping family members with the disease or whose children’s schools have closed because of the virus
A total of 12 weeks of paid leave to many of those with children in schools that have closed. Workers will get about 67% of their normal salary for this period.
Bolstering of unemployment insurance
A boost to the SNAP food assistance program and federal funding for Medicaid.
Tax deadline extension
On March 21, the federal government extended the due date for filing and paying federal taxes until July 15, 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak for all individual returns, trusts and corporations.
State and city government relief
In addition to the federal government’s sources of aid, there are many state and local initiatives ready to help businesses. Forbes has a comprehensive list of state- and city-specific relief programs that we recommend, as well as this list from small business education site Venturize.
A sampling of aid available from state and city governments:
Los Angeles: The Small Business Emergency Microloan Program is offering $5,000 - $20,000 loans with interest rates from 0-3% for companies with fewer than 100 employees “that have been negatively impacted” by the outbreak.
Iowa: The state’s Small Business Relief Program will provide grants up to $25,000 to businesses with 25 employees or fewer.
Wisconsin: The state’s Economic Development Corporation launched a grant program, Small Business 20/20, which offers grants of up to $20,000 to businesses that currently lend from the state’s community development financial institutions.
Relief from nonprofits
Nonprofits are aiding businesses facing the coronavirus, offering support in the form of loans, lines of credit and grants.. A few of the most notable programs include:
The global microlending site is supporting U.S. businesses with a program that offers expanded eligibility, making it easier for businesses to get a loan. For these, it’s raising its loan maximum from $10,000 to $15,000 and giving businesses a longer grace period for repayment.
The organization focused on small business loans has developed a COVID-19 Relief Program to provide loans to 500 small business owners who do not meet requirements for public relief programs. It’s also expediting the process for businesses in Illinois and Indiana to open a line of credit for up to $25,000.
United Way often partners with local city and state organizations, like the Downtown Denver Partnership, to provide grants and microloans to growing businesses. See what United Way is doing in your community.
Spanx Founder Sarah Blakely launched this fund to provide relief to women entrepreneurs dealing with the effects of COVID-19. Loans of $5,000 will go to 1,000 U.S. women whose businesses have less than $5 million in annual revenue and fewer than 50 individuals on staff. The first round of applications is currently open, with subsequent rounds to launch through August.
Relief from private companies
Even big companies facing their own set of problems are putting programs in place to help smaller businesses get through the coronavirus challenge. Inc has put together a list of private companies helping in the relief effort, which includes:
Facebook is offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 growing businesses to help with rent, payroll and operational costs. Applicants must have 2-50 employees, have been in business for over a year and “be in or near a location where Facebook operates.” Facebook is currently only accepting grant applications in certain areas of the U.S., but you can sign up to get updates as the program expands globally.
The company’s Recovery Fund is channeling grants of up to $10,000 to small businesses that are “facing immediate financial pressure because of COVID-19 -- especially entrepreneurs of color, women-owned businesses and other enterprises in historically underserved communities.” The first round of applications is closed, but you can register to get updates when the next one launches in mid-April.
The crowdfunding platform is providing matching grants of $500 to small businesses who use the tool to fundraise in the wake of COVID-19. To receive a grant, business owners must launch a GoFundMe campaign with a specific hashtag and raise $500 from friends, family and connections.
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