Helping Your Business Navigate Through the Coronavirus Crisis
Responding to the COVID-19 epidemic is difficult for everyone. Responding to the epidemic when you own or manage a business feels almost impossible. Traverse Connect is here to support your business during this unprecedented time.
We’ve gathered resources from far and wide that will help you navigate the rough road of loans, unemployment, insurance and more. Is there anything you’ve seen or utilized that we haven’t shared on this page?
We value your creative input and resourcefulness in the face of the challenges facing our business community during this time. If you have resources (websites, webinars, ideas, stories) to share with other business owners, please complete the form at the bottom of this page.
- U.S. Small Business Administration: The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved the Governor’s request for a statewide Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration, opening the opportunity to small businesses to access low-interest loans from the SBA. This means that Michigan small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, and nonprofits that have suffered substantial economic losses as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak will now have the ability to apply for low-interest loans as part of $1 billion in funding made available to the SBA by Congress earlier this month.
- Michigan Economic Development Corporation – Applications due by April 3 at 12 p.m.:
- The Michigan Small Business Relief Program will provide up to $20 million in support for small businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19. The grant program will provide up to $10 million in grant funding to one or more local economic development organizations or nonprofit economic development organizations to provide grants up to $10,000 to support certain small businesses statewide that have realized a significant financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The amount per lead local economic development partner will be determined based on potential impact per region.
- Provide up to $10 million for small business loans to one or more Community Development Financial Institution (“CDFI”) or a licensed SBA not-for-profit institutions (“Eligible SBA Non-Profit”), or directly from the MSF to eligible borrowers to be used to provide low-interest loans with flexible repayment terms to support certain small businesses statewide that have realized a significant financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Loans to eligible borrowers must be $50,000 or more and are capped at $200,000.Funds for the program are expected to be available no later than April 1, 2020.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The Department of Labor’s (Department) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) administers and enforces the new law’s paid leave requirements. These provisions will apply from the effective date through December 31, 2020.
FFCRA will help the United States combat and defeat COVID-19 by giving all American businesses with fewer than 500 employees funds to provide employees with paid leave, either for the employee’s own health needs or to care for family members. The legislation will ensure that workers are not forced to choose between their paychecks and the public health measures needed to combat the virus while at the same time reimbursing businesses.
Each covered employer must post a notice of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requirements in a conspicuous place on its premises. An employer may satisfy this requirement by emailing or direct mailing this notice to employees or posting this notice on an employee information internal or external website.
Michigan SBDC has a recording available of their webinar “Navigating the Cash Flow Crunch” and supporting resources.
Effective at 12:01 am on March 24 for at least the next three weeks, Governor Whitmer issued a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order (EO 2020-21), directing all Michigan businesses and operations to temporarily suspend in-person operations that are not necessary to sustain or protect life. The order also directs Michiganders to stay in their homes unless they’re a part of that critical infrastructure workforce, engaged in an outdoor activity, or performing tasks necessary to the health and safety of themselves or their family.
- The Executive Order prohibits all businesses and operations from requiring workers to leave their homes unless those workers are necessary to sustain or protect life or to conduct minimum basic operations. Sections 4b and 5a of the EO state that businesses and operations are to designate the workers that meet those criteria.
- Further clarity for these critical workers is included in the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency guidance available below.
- Below is a link to a sample letter that may be modified for critical infrastructure workers or workers necessary to conduct minimum basic operations.
Small businesses that have experienced disrupted operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic now have additional time to make their sales, use and withholding tax monthly payment. Small businesses scheduled to make their monthly sales, use and withholding tax payments on March 20 can postpone filing and payment requirements until April 20. The state Treasury Department will waive all penalties and interest for 30 days.
Clarifying a previous Executive Order, the Governor signed an Executive Order effective through Tuesday, April 22 at 11:59 pm temporarily expanding eligibility for unemployment benefits. Benefits have been extended to certain individuals, such as those displaying COVID-19 symptoms, individuals with care responsibilities as a result of state Executive Order, and individuals who are immunocompromised (full list of exemptions here). Under the order, an employer will not be charged for unemployment benefits if their employees become unemployed because of an Executive Order requiring them to close or limit operations (e.g., state-ordered closing of restaurants, fitness centers, movie theaters, etc.). The state has offered additional guidance for employers contemplating potential layoffs.
The State’s Work Share program is also expanded. This program allows employers to maintain operational productivity during declines in regular business activity instead of laying off workers. A handout on the Work Share can be found here and more in-depth information here.
Amidst the crisis, businesses in the Grand Traverse Region are responding with creativity and ingenuity to shift their strategy and capabilities to help society, healthcare workers, and their employees.
Here are a few highlights that we’ve captured in recent weeks. If you have a story to share of a local business, nonprofit or other group making a shift or collaborating to meet the needs of the times, please share with us in the form below.