UPDATE: Florida Governor Rob DeSantis activates emergency bridge loan program to get interest free short-term loans to small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Read more here.
The U.S. Small Business Administration announced today that it will provide small businesses impacted by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, up to $2 million in in disaster assistance loans. Also, Florida’s governor is asking businesses affected by coronavirus to respond to a survey. The two news developments are very linked, so read on.
Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the activation of the Business Damage Assessment survey to assess the impact of COVID-19 on Florida’s local business operations. The survey, managed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, will evaluate businesses affected by COVID-19 and the impacts the virus has had on the local economy so actions to implement appropriate relief programs can begin.
“Gathering information about the impact COVID-19 has on Florida businesses and industries will be invaluable to the state’s efforts in coordinating our response,” said Gov. DeSantis. “It is important that we understand the total impact COVID-19 has on businesses to ensure that we access the resources that may be available.”
The Business Damage Assessment Survey can be taken online at https://floridadisaster.biz/. Survey results will be shared with state agencies and local partners. Surveys submitted by small businesses can be used to access the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan, made available for COVID-19 through the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act.
SBA ECONOMIC INJURY DISASTER LOAN PROGRAM
And that leads us to more information about the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program just announced.
“Small businesses are vital economic engines in every community and state, and they have helped make our economy the strongest in the world. Our Agency will work directly with state Governors to provide targeted, low-interest disaster recovery loans to small businesses that have been severely impacted by the situation,” said SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza, in a statement,
These loans can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing, the agency said . “SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans are just one piece of the expanded focus of the federal government’s coordinated response, and the SBA is strongly committed to providing the most effective and customer-focused response possible.”
Here’s how the SBA process will work (information from the SBA):
- The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Upon a request received from a state’s or territory’s Governor, SBA will issue under its own authority, as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by the President, an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration.
- Any such Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance declaration issued by the SBA makes loans available to small businesses and private, non-profit organizations in designated areas of a state or territory to help alleviate economic injury caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
- SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance will coordinate with the state’s or territory’s Governor to submit the request for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance. (UPDATE: Florida has been activated.)
- Once a declaration is made for designated areas within a state, the information on the application process for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance will be made available to all affected communities. (Here in South Florida, more information and assistance will be available through the SBA’s district office and Florida SBDC at FIU.)
- These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.
- SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.
- More information and to apply: disasterloan.sba.gov/ela
IMPACTS FELT NATIONWIDE
If you are already feeling the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, you are not alone. A new nationwide survey taken this week shows small business owners are beginning to feel early impacts, such as supply-chain problems and lost sales, and a large number of those surveyed sees impacts ahead.
New data from the National Federation of Independent Business found that 74% of small businesses say they are not yet impacted by the pandemic, while 23% say they are being negatively affected. Just 3% report positive impacts. The survey was taken on March 10-11 from employers with up to 120 workers.
Of those who said they were not being impacted, nearly half anticipate the outbreak to affect their business if the virus spreads to or more broadly within their immediate area over the next three months. Among the businesses that said they were being hurt, 42% reported seeing slower sales, while 39% were experiencing supply-chain disruptions.
Small businesses in South Florida, how are you coping? If you’re already seeing impact or would like to share your strategies for coping with the new reality, which might include remote work or managing supply chain challenges, please email me at email@example.com.
FIND OUT MORE
For additional information, please contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center. Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. More coronavirus guidance and resources are available at sba.gov/coronavirus
And Florida businesses should take the state survey – find it again here – so that impact can be assessed.