The coronavirus (COVID-19) has brought a lot of uncertainty for businesses throughout the U.S, small and large. Local economic development organizations are on the front-line and best positioned to be a valuable resource to your local businesses and your residents. Ultimately, you have the capability and responsibility to determine your community’s economic future. Here a few key efforts to help create opportunities for economic resiliency.
Communicate with Your Local Employers
It’s vital to establish ongoing communication with your area businesses to understand how the current economic disruption impacts their business operations, employment needs, supply chains, and distribution challenges. This information is vital to identifying and directing needed resources. Key items to consider:
- Current or anticipated disruptions in revenue, employee productivity, supply chain, or access to capital.
- Current or planned reductions in workforce.
- Anticipated changes due to market fluctuations.
Convey Available Programs and Resources
Once there is an understanding of the current and projected financial outlook, research programs that may be available to your businesses. Below is a list of current resources, but new programs are rapidly emerging.
U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Loan Assistance
The SBA announced it would offer disaster assistance loans up to $2 million to small businesses affected by the coronavirus. The loans can be used to pay off outstanding debts, payroll, and/or any other invoices the business is unable to pay. Small businesses that sustain “substantial” economic injury with no available credit can qualify for an interest rate of 3.75%. Nonprofits qualify for a rate 2.75%.
Displaced Worker Assistance
Your local businesses’ employees are their most important and valuable asset. The Electronic Mass Claims Filing System, which is managed at the state level, is designed to assist employers and their employees during a temporary mass layoff. Employee information provided by the employer allows the Division of Employment Security to file an initial or renewed unemployment claim on behalf of employees quickly and efficiently.
Be Informed and Proactive
As information continues to evolve, it’s important to remain informed and proactively implement strategies to soften the economic blow to your community. Stay in contact with the key economic drivers of your community and help them coordinate efforts with local, state, and federal officials to learn how to implement safeguards.
While it may take a while to return to business as usual, it’s important to remain knowledgeable about the current situation, plan ahead, and remain flexible. We are all in this together and what you do today will be important to the future success of your community and its businesses.