With 1584 confirmed COVID-19 cases in North Carolina (and 400+ in Mecklenburg County), Charlotte businesses small and big are understandably concerned about their futures. With strict containment measures in place, many businesses will need a helping hand. The declarations of emergency at local, state and federal levels will help bring relief faster. More and more resources are becoming available for small businesses as the true extent of the situation becomes known, but those resources are not always easy to find. Here is a list of some of the most promising resources currently available to local businesses.
Mecklenburg County and the City of Charlotte have issued a Stay at Home Order effective March 26 to April 16. This order defines what essential businesses are allowed to continue operating. The complete list can be found here.
On March 27, 2020, the State of North Carolina issued a similar order that is in effect through April 30. That order is available here.
Supply Chain Disruptions
With countries closing their borders and shelter-in-place orders, getting necessary materials to continue operations can be difficult. If you are having difficulty securing supplies during this crisis, look towards other manufacturers here in North Carolina. ManufacturedNC is a database of suppliers for everything produced in NC. This resource can help you find a local supplier to keep your business continue operating. If you are a North Carolina manufacturer that is not yet listed in this database be sure to register so that other businesses can connect with you.
Manufacture Personal Protective Equipment
There is a severe shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical personnel on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you currently operate a cut & sew facility, are a furniture manufacturer, are a non-woven fabric mill, a textile material mill, a hosiery mill, or a wet processing/finishing company, consider adjusting your production to make PPE, such as gowns, masks, gloves, etc. The Carolina Textile District can help you transition to producing medical supplies during this health emergency.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact both on our population’s health and the economy. The economic impact of this crisis is far-reaching and many small businesses are struggling to make ends meet, with many having to layoff employees. In light of this emergency, several resources have been made available to assist business owners.
Several loans are available to help businesses with their economic hardships caused by the COVID-19. Here are a few to look into:
Corporate Small Business Assistance Programs
Banks and other corporate lenders are working with small businesses to help during these trying times. Many of these institutions are offering forbearance and deferment, particularly to business loan customers. Check with your bank or lender to see if they have a program in place that you can take advantage of to reduce the financial strain on your business.
SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program
To help North Carolina small businesses in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act modified and expanded the Small Business Association’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, making these loans available to a wider range of businesses and to those who are self employed or operate as sole proprietors. The CARES Act also simplified the application and approval process for these loans and created an emergency cash grant program for borrowers that can be forgiven if certain criteria are met. More details on the program are available through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and you can apply here.
The Paycheck Protection Program
The CARES Act also allocated $350 billion to small business loans to be offered through SBA-approved private lenders, and these loans may also be forgiven in certain cases. The purpose of the program is to help businesses retain or rehire employees whose jobs are at risk or were eliminated due to COVID-19 related disruptions. Businesses can begin applying for these loans on April 3, 2020, and should apply as soon as possible since funds are limited. More details on the program are available here.
SBA Express Bridge Loans
If you already have a relationship with an SBA Express Lender, this program allows your small business to access up to $25,000 with less paperwork. This can help give you the support needed to cover your lost revenue while you find a more permanent solution.
NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan
North Carolina businesses may also be eligible for the NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan. This is an innovative recovery-lending program to support local entrepreneurs and NC’s small businesses and farms. This loan program was created through a consortium of public, private, and nonprofit partners. It is intended to help your business bridge the gap and cope with lost revenue while you wait for federal loans, insurance payouts, or other relief funds. Loans are available up to $50,000, based on your business’s current revenue.
Several companies and organizations are offering grants to small businesses to help during these difficult and uncertain times. Grants do not need to be repaid. Some of these grant programs include:
Facebook Small Business Grants Program
Facebook has set aside $100 million that will go toward advertising credits as well as cash grants to small businesses. This amount will be distributed to 30,000 qualified small businesses in any of the 30+ countries included in the program. While this program has been announced, few details are available at this time. However, you can sign up for updates on the program.
COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund
If you are a 501(c)3 organization that focuses on helping individuals and families with homelessness and housing instability in Mecklenburg County, this grant, through the United Way of Central Carolinas can help. The grant is intended to complement other funding, investments, and government interventions. Your organization’s focus should be on those populations disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
Small Business Relief Initiative
The Small Business Relief Initiative is a combined effort between Intuit Quickbooks, GoFundMe, and Yelp to help small businesses that are struggling financially during the coronavirus pandemic. Each company has donated $500,000 to the fund. In addition to the grants issued to small businesses, the initiative will also issue $500 matching grants to qualifying businesses that raise at least $500 on GoFundMe.
Free Yelp Upgrades
Yelp has announced $25 million in relief for independent local restaurant and nightlife businesses. This includes waived advertising fees, as well as free advertising, product, and services during the period. If you are a restaurant or nightlife business that has remained open during this crisis, Yelp is giving free access to Yelp page upgrades (Business Highlights, Call to Action, and Connect). Restaurants will also get access to Reservations and Waitlist.
The North Carolina Department of Revenue has pushed the state tax filing deadline to July 15 for individual, corporate, and franchise taxes. However, while certain penalties will be waived, interest will accrue for the period between April 15 and when payment is made, as the NCDOR cannot offer relief from this interest. These changes do not apply to sales and use or withholding taxes. Details on the steps NCDOR has taken can be found here.
The filing date for US Federal taxes has also been extended to July 15, 2020. Federal income tax payment can be made anytime before July 15 without penalties or interest. This applies to all filers including corporations, non-corporate tax filers, and those who pay self-employment tax.
If your business is in a difficult spot and considering laying off employees, there are business counseling services available through Business Edge to help you with layoff aversion strategies. This service helps to prevent and minimize job losses. Business Edge is coordinated by the NC Division of Workforce Solutions. Business mentors are also available through SCORE.
Additional information on available and developing resources can be found at the following reliable sources:
Most importantly, stay up to date on the CDC’s guidelines for keeping you, your family, and your employees safe. We are thinking of our clients, friends, and colleagues during this time and look forward to seeing you again soon!