Many of us have been struggling with the best way to support local businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. We buy gift cards, eat take-out, participate in raffles and shop locally when we can. We all know someone impacted by the essential services work order. Right about now is when I would bring the lawn mower in to be serviced by a friend of mine who owns a local engine repair shop and on the weekend I would be shopping for spring and Easter merchandise at local boutiques and retail stores like Lewis & Clark gifts in Westfield, WEBs in Northampton, or Where’d you get that? in Williamstown. Technology and creativity have bolstered some small businesses as they sell online or are providing delivery services.
But not every small business can build an online presence and/or offer delivery. Think about the owners of music stores, caterer’s, party/event planners, hairdressers and barbers, nail salons, pet groomers, local breweries, local hotels/motels, bed and breakfasts, massage therapists, florists and pretty much anyone working in the travel industry. Social distancing needs to be maintained. We can’t ask our hair dresser to make a house call no matter how badly we may need it.
For these, and all small businesses throughout the U.S., a lifeline was thrown this past week. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed. The CARES Act established a $349 billion Paycheck Prevention Program. This program will help keep our small businesses open and keep our friends and family members working.
What is the Paycheck Prevention Program? I’ve listed some of the important aspects of the program below. For more detailed information check out Paycheck Protection Program FAQs
- The program is administered through the Small Business Administration (SBA)
- Businesses can use funds to cover payroll, mortgage/rent, utilities
- No collateral requirements, personal guarantees or SBA fees
- 100% guarantee by the SBA
- Loan payments will be deferred for six months
- The SBA will forgive the portion of loan proceeds used to cover the first eight weeks of payroll costs, rent, utilities, and mortgage interest
- Eligible businesses include non-profit, Veterans organizations, Tribal concerns, sole proprietorship’s, self-employed individuals and independent contractors
- Maximum loan amount is $10 million dollars
- Loan forgiveness if proceeds used for payroll costs and other designated business operating expenses in the 8 weeks following the date of loan origination
- Interest rate of 1%
- Maturity of 2 years
- All states and territories are eligible for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance
- Waiver of garnishments through 2020
A great resource for small businesses in the 413 is the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center-Western Regional office. They provide free and confidential one-to-one business advice to prospective and existing small businesses. The MSBDC has put together a comprehensive list of resources for Western Massachusetts small businesses:
The MSBDC is sponsoring three webinar’s next week to help manage your business during the COVID-19 crisis.
- e-commerce 101: Getting your business online, April 6, 2020 1:00 to 2:00 pm
- How to deal with cash flow issues due to COVID-19, April 7, 2020 3:00 to 4:00 pm
- Programs and funding available for businesses impacted by COVID-19, April 8, 2020 1:00 to 2:00 pm
To register for one of these webinars, or for more information on the MSBDC, go to https://www.msbdc.org/training
In the meantime, stay in touch with your local businesses. Many of them are coming up with creative and innovative solutions to continue to offer their services.
Hang in there Western Massachusetts small business owners and employees.