Survival is the primary topic on everyone’s mind at the moment, as the novel coronavirus continues to spread. For entrepreneurs, that term has multiple meanings.
It’s unclear — even to experts — just how long United States citizens will need to remain in self-imposed isolation. It could be weeks, or even months. But until the worst is over, soliciting small local businesses will be extremely difficult, if not completely impossible. Many owners are already feeling the impact as a result of cancellations and supply-chain disruptions.
While limited, there are resources available for those looking for financial relief, and more are expected to be rolled out in coming weeks. (The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is also compiling resources on its site.) They include…
1. Bank and Credit Card Company Assistance
Several large financial institutions have offered breaks to customers or made donations toward public relief efforts. For example, Citi is offering its small business clients waivers on monthly service fees and remote deposit captures, waived penalties for early CD withdrawals and off-hours banking support. Capital One has encouraged struggling clients to reach out to discuss financial assistance. Meanwhile, Wells Fargo gave $6.25 million to organizations like the CDC Foundation and the International Medical Corps to aid public relief efforts. The bank has also publicly said it will help customers experiencing hardships related to COVID-19.
2. State- and Local-Level Programs
New York City mayor Bill de Blasio announced grants and loans for small businesses suffering from decreases in sales. Governor Jay Inslee of Washington state, meanwhile, announced plans to offer discounts and no-interest loans to some firms. And the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce says the city will defer payments of quarterly business taxes due April 30 for 9 months for firms making up to $10 million in gross receipts, which it estimates will assist 8,050 small businesses. So be sure to check with your local government for options that may apply to your business’ unique situation.
3. SBA Disaster Relief Loans
The U.S. Small Business Administration will make low-interest small business loans in amounts as large as $2 million available to entrepreneurs. Small business owners can use this assistance to “pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact,” the SBA site says. To keep them affordable, a 3.75 percent interest rate has been attached, and long-term repayment options — as long as 30 years — are available. Check out our primer on them for more information.