Emergency Loans and Coronavirus Relief for Small Business

Updated Aug. 10, 2020. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is a developing situation. More resources will be added here as they become available.

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Small business loan resources

With an economy shut down like never before, small business owners work frantically to adjust their operations, fearing they’ll never recover from the downturn. But help is available: here are steps you can take to find small business relief during the COVID-19 pandemic to help ride out the losses and prepare as states lift stay-at-home orders.

Apply for federal aid

Several small business loans for coronavirus relief are available at the federal level to help small and medium-sized businesses keep employees on the payroll and meet ongoing financial obligations.

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

The PPP ended Aug. 8, 2020 and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is no longer accepting new applications. The SBA continues to process forgiveness applications for businesses that already received PPP loans.  Read more

PPP FAQs

The PPP loan forgiveness process gives borrowers 24 weeks to spend at least 60% of loan funds on payroll expenses and no more than 40% on mortgage interest, rent payments and utilities. Business owners must also rehire employees they previously laid off, though forgiveness would not be impacted if they refuse the offer to come back.

Congress injected an additional $370 billion into the PPP and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) programs after they ran out of money in mid-April. The PPP works much the same way as before — you would still apply through an approved SBA lender. The new bill allocates funds for smaller banks, with $30 billion going to banks with $10 billion to $50 billion in assets and $30 billion to institutions with less than $10 billion in assets.

Borrowers with loans exceeding $2 million may be subject to an audit to prove the necessity of the loan. The SBA has granted a safe harbor to borrowers with loans of $2 million or less. The SBA assumes businesses with loans below the $2 million threshold would be less likely to have resources that would’ve made the funding unnecessary.

You can call the SBA’s Office of Inspector General if you suspect misuse of PPP loan funds. Instances of PPP loan fraud could include inflating payroll costs or employee headcount to avoid repayment. For example, employers may report bringing back full-time workers without paying them for their work. Keep in mind the office may be slow to respond, as most employment-related agencies are handling a higher volume of traffic than usual.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs)

EIDLs are still available through the SBA. Business owners — generally those with fewer than 500 employees — could secure up to $2 million to cover a variety of expenses, including payroll and accounts payable, among others. Read more

EIDL FAQs

The SBA closed its EIDL advance program on July 11 after allocating all of the program’s funding. The program previously offered an advance on EIDLs up to $1,000 per employee up to the $10,000 maximum.

Yes, the SBA is accepting new applications from all businesses. The SBA continues to process previously submitted EIDL applications from all businesses on a first-come, first-served basis.

You can get both an EIDL and a PPP loan for your small business, but you cannot use both loans for the same expenses, such as payroll costs. If you received an EIDL between Jan. 31 and April 3 this year and used the funds to cover payroll, you would need to refinance your EIDL with your PPP loan. Find out which may be right for your small business, the EIDL vs. PPP loan.

SBA Express Bridge Loan

The SBA has increased the maximum amount of its traditional Express loans to $1 million for businesses affected by the coronavirus crisis. In addition, business owners may apply for an Express Bridge Loan up to $25,000 that you may receive quickly while waiting for long-term financing. The Express is known for generally fast turnaround times. Read more

Main Street Lending

The Federal Reserve has announced a funding program offering loans between $250,000 and $200 million for small and mid-sized businesses that were unable to access PPP loans or need additional financial support. A big difference between PPP loans and Main Street loans is that Main Street loans are not forgivable, but businesses are not required to repay them for the first year. Businesses with as many as 15,000 employees and as much as $5 billion in revenue may be eligible. Read more

City and state help for small businesses

Several cities and states have unveiled small business loans and resources to support struggling entrepreneurs. Check to see if your city or state has received a Department of Labor grant to help dislocated workers. Here’s a look at what’s offered.

Employers in California can apply for the statewide work-sharing program that provides unemployment insurance benefits to offset layoffs and reduced employee wages. Businesses considering a closure could receive help from the state’s Rapid Response program, which offers immediate on-site assistance to struggling businesses.

Get Help in California

Small businesses losing revenue as a result of the coronavirus may benefit from the city’s $100 million relief package providing low-interest loans in the coming months. Chicago’s fund is targeting historically under-resourced business communities and companies with fewer than 50 employees who have seen at least a 25% drop in revenue.

Get Help in Chicago

The Denver Economic Development and Opportunity (DEDO) office has set up an emergency relief program to provide cash grants of up to $7,500 to small businesses in the city. Those affected most, such as businesses in the food industry, will be the highest-priority recipients.

Get Help in Denver

The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program is open to struggling business owners in all Florida counties. Interest-free loans are available up to $50,000, though $100,000 loans may be issued in certain circumstances.

Get Help in Florida

The city’s Small Business Emergency Microloan Program is providing low-interest loans between $5,000 and $20,000. To be eligible, small businesses must be within Los Angeles city limits and must retain low-income jobs.

Get Help in Los Angeles

Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC) is administering the state’s Small Business Recovery Loan Fund, which provides loans up to $75,000 with payments deferred for six months. Loans are reserved for affected businesses throughout the state with fewer than 50 full- and part-time employees. Negative impact from the coronavirus pandemic must be verifiable.

Get Help in Massachusetts

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) is issuing $20 million in business funding through the Michigan Small Business Relief Fund. The funding will be split: $10 million toward small business grants and $10 million toward small business loans. Grants up to $10,000 each will be awarded. Loans are for between $50,000 and $200,000. Businesses must have fewer than 50 employees to qualify for grants and have fewer than 100 employees to qualify for loans.

Get Help in Michigan

Businesses with fewer than 100 employees that have seen a 25% decrease in sales are eligible for zero-interest loans up to $75,000 from the City of New York. Small businesses with fewer than five employees are also eligible for the city’s grants to cover 40% of payroll costs for two months.

Get Help in New York City

Businesses that have lost income due to COVID-19 can apply for grants up to $10,000 from the City of Seattle. Business owners must earn less than 80% of the area’s median income to be eligible, and must have five employees or fewer and a physical business location. Grants can be used to cover daily operating expenses, such as rent and payroll.

Get Help in Seattle

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation has put together the Small Business 20/20 program to support small and microenterprises during the coronavirus pandemic. The program provides grants up to $20,000 to businesses with no more than 20 employees to help cover daily expenses and employee leave related to COVID-19.

Get Help in Wisconsin

Check with the Department of Economic Development or similar entity in your state to find out what resources may be available to businesses in your area. Your city’s Chamber of Commerce or other regional business organization would provide COVID-19 updates as well.

Help In Other States

SBDCs operate across the country offering business guidance in partnership with the SBA. You could reach out to your local SBDC to find specific COVID-19 resources in your area. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, SBDCs are currently offering online-only services and communication.

Find Your Nearest SBDC

Additional small business relief

Beyond government loans, there are several other sources for aid that small business owners could consider.

  • Online emergency business loans

    Nonbank, online business lenders may be able to provide emergency business loans, sometimes within 24 hours. This is generally a more expensive option than a traditional bank loan, and certainly more expensive than the federal aid we mentioned earlier.

    Learn More

  • Fundraisers for business

    Crowdfunding platforms such as GoFundMe and Indiegogo offer a meeting place for struggling businesses and the customers looking to support them even when storefronts are closed. GoFundMe is offering $500 matching grants to small business owners who raise at least $500 through their own fundraisers on the site, which must be created as part of GoFundMe’s joint relief initiative.

    Learn More

  • Tax relief

    No, it’s not the same as loans or grants replacing lost income, but the federal government has enacted several tax breaks and credits since the start of the coronavirus outbreak. Employers may postpone paying their share of Social Security contributions and receive refundable tax credits. There are tax credits for 50% of wages paid to employees during the COVID-19 crisis, as well as a credit for providing sick leave to employees.

    Learn More

Find support

Small business forums

Find answers from experts and others in the business community through online forums, many of which feature discussions regarding the effects of COVID-19 on small businesses. Learn More.

Save Small Business Initiative

U.S. Chamber Save Small Business Initiative is a list of resources for small businesses, including virtual town halls, webinars and financial aid guides, to answer questions and help owners navigate the COVID-19 crisis. Learn More.

Companies that may help

A growing number of companies and organizations have pledged to support small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

Facebook
The social media company is offering $100 million in cash grants and Facebook ad credits.

Amazon
Amazon has allocated $5 million to create the Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund to support businesses in Seattle.

Kiva
Kiva, an online lender that also leverages crowdfunding, has expanded its zero-interest loan program up to $15,000.

Opportunity Fund
The nonprofit business microlender is taking donations for its Small Business Relief Fund designed to help affected businesses that are owned by women, immigrants and people of color.

Truist
The bank pledged $1 million each to LiftFund and Natural Capital Investment Fund (NCIFund), two community development financial institutions providing grants to small businesses affected by COVID-19.

Yelp
For businesses in the restaurant and nightlife industries, Yelp has pledged $25 million in relief in the form of waived advertising fees and free advertising products and services.

Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation (RWCF)
The RWCF has created a COVID-19 relief fund for restaurant owners and employees consisting of donations from the general public.

Help your employees during COVID-19

Employees are the lifeblood of many small businesses, but often staff members must pay the price when business slows down. Here is some guidance for handling employee relations if your business is facing hard times.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

The new program opens up state-level unemployment benefits to those who are typically not eligible, including self-employed individuals, independent contractors and workers with limited employment history. PUA goes hand-in-hand with other changes that extend unemployment benefits for an extra 13 weeks and gives workers an additional $600 a week. Learn More.

Employee loans

If business is going strong but your employees are personally struggling, you may consider lending them money. Learn More.

Keep employees safe if your business stays open or reopens

For businesses that are open during the crisis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been promoting best practices for businesses and employers during the coronavirus pandemic. Learn More.

Employment FAQs

You can legally reduce the hours of nonexempt hourly employees, as well as their wages, as long as they remain at or above the federal minimum wage. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. Nonexempt employees must receive one and one-half times their regular wage for overtime work, including any work they complete at home.

To keep their status as exempt employees, salaried workers must receive their regular pay for their work even if the business is closed. However, employers can direct salaried employees to use vacation time or leave benefits in the event of business closure.

Businesses with more than 100 employees are legally required to provide 60 days’ notice of mass layoffs or business closings. Exceptions to this rule include unforeseeable business circumstances, which could include the spread of the coronavirus. You may need to prove the unforeseen nature of the cause of the layoffs to avoid fines and penalties.

You can use your PPP loan to rehire employees laid off between Feb. 15 and April 26. You must restore your full-time staff and salary levels before June 30, 2020 to be eligible for loan forgiveness.

Each state sets its own rules for unemployment insurance, but the benefit is generally designed to provide temporary relief. If you rehire an employee for a full-time role — you must restore your full-time staff to be eligible for PPP loan forgiveness — they become ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits. Part-time employees may remain eligible for pandemic unemployment insurance, as long as their circumstances are related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Employees should contact their state unemployment insurance office to check the status of their benefits.

Your loan forgiveness would not be affected if you offer to rehire an employee who you previously laid off and they reject your offer. You may still be eligible for full loan forgiveness as long as you made a good-faith offer in writing. You would also need to document their refusal to accept the job offer.

Develop a backup plan for your business

  • Pivot to a new business model

    Some companies have been able to use existing operations to make a new product needed during the pandemic. Pivoting during the crisis could include refining or changing your product lineup, targeting a new set of customers, cutting expenses or revamping your revenue model.

    If you haven’t already, working with a business accountant could help you find areas of your business where you could cut back or increase spending to boost the business in new ways. You could also consider reorganizing your accounts payable, which include your bills owed to vendors. Contact suppliers if you anticipate having trouble paying outstanding invoices. Some may be willing to cut you some slack while others might not, and you could prioritize your bills accordingly.

  • Run your business at home

    Depending on the industry you’re in, you could move your business to your home. However, you would have to meet the requirements of your homeowners association or complex, and take precautions if you plan to have customers visit your home. Learn more about running a home-based business.

  • Shutting down your business

    The business interruptions from COVID-19 could force you to close down completely, despite your best efforts. When local or state governments issue “shelter-in-place” mandates, only essential businesses such as health care facilities, grocery stores and banks are permitted to remain open.

    Before closing for good, you’d need to notify your customers, clients and employees as soon as possible and set up a plan to repay creditors. If you have business partners, you may all need to agree to the closure before you can proceed. Corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs) must notify the state in which they were incorporated or formed. Continue reading to learn how to close a business in 7 steps.