Across the country, small and medium-sized businesses have felt the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic acutely. Maintaining staff, retaining customers, and even keeping an eye to future growth have been high priorities for businesses over the past year. Business owners have adapted quickly to take advantage of resources for small businesses that can counterbalance the effects of the pandemic.
Congress passed a stimulus bill in December that includes additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Small business owners can begin applying for this funding now.
Other opportunities exist as well. Requirements and eligibility differ depending upon region and industry, so we have broken down various opportunities available for small business owners.
The federal government has been heavily invested in finding ways to help small businesses emerge stronger from the Covid-19 pandemic. These initiatives are designed to help companies meet their most important goals, from growing their customer base to retaining staff.
The March 2020 CARES Act included a government-backed loans program called the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP. The second stimulus bill includes an additional $284 billion for small businesses with fewer than 300 employees.
Other resources for small businesses are available to help you navigate new regulations, reopen safely, or secure additional funding:
- Ready to Reopen Playbook – Published by the U.S. Department of Commerce, this short handbook offers information on best practices for safety and workplace hygiene for reopening businesses.
- PPP Forgiveness – If you received funds under the Paycheck Protection Program in 2020, you might be eligible to apply for loan forgiveness now. The SBA has further information on eligibility, and you will apply through your lender.
- Disaster Loan Assistances – While this is not a new program, the SBA has expanded this loan program in 2020 to reach businesses impacted by Covid-19.
- USDA Rural Development Programs – If you’re a business owner in a rural area, the USDA offers a wide variety of loan, grant, and training opportunities.
State and Local Resources
The pandemic has led to some positive developments. Many small business owners say that they are now more confident that they could weather a future crisis. Small business owners have done the hard work of adapting to unprecedented restrictions and their creativity is on display.
Depending on where your business is located, there are local and state resources available:
- SBA Local Offices – Like many federal agencies, the SBA operates state-based offices with local resources. Contact your state’s office to find guidelines and resources tailored to your region.
- State Relief and Bridge Loan Programs – These differ by state, and this guide explains the different resources available.
- Council of State Chambers – Never underestimate your Chamber of Commerce. These organizations have region-specific information that is invaluable for small business owners. The Council of State Chambers has assembled a list of state-specific chamber resources for Covid-19.
What Comes Next?
With legislative changes likely and a new administration entering in January, it’s possible new federal funding opportunities could be available over the next several months as well.
Some statistics indicate that small and medium sized businesses are already bouncing back. One recent study indicates that 58% of small businesses who laid off employees have already started hiring them back. Keeping good employees is a perennial concern for small business owners, which is why they enthusiastically welcomed further extension of the PPP to make it through the pandemic.
New Paycheck Protection Program funding is welcome news for small business owners and will be a significant resource in 2021. You might be pleasantly surprised at the number of additional resources for small businesses available in your area. It’s important to keep a weather eye on your state and local press releases to stay up-to-date with any changes to policy surrounding business closures, maximum occupancy rules, or other guidelines. Small business guidance is usually accompanied by resources like best practices guidelines and FAQs to eliminate some of the guesswork.