3 Small Business Administration employees test positive for COVID-19 in Fort Worth - WFAA.com

3 Small Business Administration employees test positive for COVID-19 in Fort Worth - WFAA.com

3 Small Business Administration employees test positive for COVID-19 in Fort Worth - WFAA.com

Posted: 01 Apr 2020 04:09 PM PDT

Three Small Business Administration staffers in the Fort Worth offices tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Officials confirmed the three staff members have been sent home on leave. 

Despite the reduced staffing, SBA officials said they expect no disruption for North Texas small businesses applying for emergency loans or funds.

Last month, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that small businesses could apply for long-term, low-interest loans after many were forced to close during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Ken S. Malcolmson, president and CEO of the North Texas Chamber of Commerce said he hoped the reduced SBA staffing due to COVID-19  would not disrupt emergency loans to small businesses. 

"Any slow-down will be problematic," Malcolmson said in a statement.

Small businesses battered by the novel coronavirus pandemic sweeping through Texas can apply for long-term, low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday. The Economic Injury Disaster Loan is available for small businesses to apply. Questions of eligibility, and how to apply, can be answered on the agency website.

He said a typical small business owner has less than a month of cash reserves.

"So, every day that passes will cause more businesses to fail," he said.

SBA spokeswoman Carol Wilkerson said the organization "took immediate action" after the employees tested positive, "including enhanced cleaning and sanitizing measures of the facility." 

The Small Business Administration has "immediate openings" for loan specialists and assistants, attorneys, paralegals and legal assistants "to help small businesses across the nation recover from the coronavirus." 

The temporary job openings would require "weekend work" and include mandatory overtime that could be "substantial." 

Job applicants can apply at usajobs.gov. 

More on WFAA:

I can’t afford rent for my small business because of COVID-19. What can I do? - Marketplace

Posted: 01 Apr 2020 11:16 AM PDT

Over the last few weeks, most restaurants and brick-and-mortar stores have been doing a fraction of their normal business and, in many cases, no business at all. 

For nearly half of small businesses, those lost weeks could be enough to push them into the red. Enough to make it impossible to pay rent, which for many is due today for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. 

Even some big businesses say they can't afford rent. The Cheesecake Factory sent a letter to its landlords in mid-March informing them it would not be paying rent because the virus "inflicted a tremendous financial blow to our business."

That will likely be harder for small business owners to do.

"Small businesses clearly don't have the leverage that those big chains do," said Jared Nicholson, director of the Community Business Clinic at Northeastern University School of Law. "While the landlord is going to be willing to cut a deal with a huge customer, the tiny small businesses may not be able to get that kind of break."

If you're a small business owner who may not be able to afford rent this month or next, what can you do?

Check your lease

"Take a look through your lease and see if there's anything in there having to do with suspending rent obligations during an emergency, during a crisis, or during a time when the government forces your business to shut down," said Arthur Kats, director of the Microenterprise Project at Volunteers of Legal Service in New York. 

Your legal obligations, and your options, largely hinge on what's in your lease. In most cases, Nicholson said, "the answers in the lease, particularly in these commercial leases, are probably not going to be very favorable to the commercial tenants."

That is what Kats is finding so far with small business owners he's advising in New York. "The vast majority of our clients that we're seeing have no automatic right to suspend their rent obligations during this crisis," he said. 

Similarly, most insurance policies do not offer much protection under current circumstances.

"A lot of the policies that people would be thinking about is the business interruption insurance," Nicholson said. "A lot of times that requires physical damage to the property. Every policy is different, everyone has to look at their policy. But at first glance, a lot of these business interruption insurance policies aren't going to cover what's happening right now." 

It's also worth calling your lawyer for help deciphering your lease, strategizing about how to negotiate with your landlord, and figuring out what assistance programs you may be eligible for.

If you can't afford an attorney, there are legal services that do free consultations with small business owners, including small business clinics at many law schools, and non-profit organizations like the Microenterprise Project and Lawyers for Civil Rights, which has a project that matches small businesses with attorneys willing to work pro bono.

With shelter-in-place orders in effect across much of the country, many restaurants and businesses are struggling to stay afloat. (Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty Images)

Call your landlord

If you've gone through your lease and found you're still on the hook for rent, the next step is to try to negotiate with your landlord.

"Call your landlord, say, 'For obvious reasons, I'm going through difficult times. I see a path where I can continue this lease, or I can continue this mortgage and support my business, and we can be long-term partners, but I do not have the cash to pay,'" said Michael Roth, a managing partner at the advisory firm Next Street.

Nicholson at Northeastern said they were getting reports of landlords willing to negotiate. For many landlords, it's mutually beneficial to work something out if it means a tenant's business survives until shelter-in-place orders are lifted.

If you do come to an agreement with your landlord to suspend or defer rent, or pay less, "write that agreement down," Kats said. "Make sure both parties sign it, even if it's by an email, talk to a lawyer, if you have the access, to make sure that that agreement is in writing and enforceable after all of this is over."

It's also helpful to go into a negotiation knowing the financial aid available to you.

"A really important one will be the federal stimulus funds, the loans available through the SBA," Nicholson said. "Rent is specifically made an acceptable use of the proceeds from the loan. And in some circumstances, that expenditure could be forgiven.

"If you call up your landlord and are interested in negotiating, my sense is one of the first questions they're going to be asking is: Do you have those stimulus funds? Is that something that we could work with?"

Apply to the new Paycheck Protection Program

Starting on Friday, small businesses will be able to apply for an emergency loan — much of which can be forgiven — using the new Paycheck Protection Program

The program, run by the Small Business Administration and the Treasury Department, came out of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Small businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 500 employees can apply for a loan of up to $10 million. Any portion of the loan that goes toward payroll costs, rent, mortgage interest or utilities in the first eight weeks will be forgiven — as long as at least 75% was used for payroll.

This is a "phenomenal, phenomenal product and program that small businesses will be able to have access to," Roth said. But, he added, not everyone will be able to access the funds they need, at least not right away. 

"My biggest advice to any small business is get your documents in order now," Roth said. "Make sure that you have everything. If you have a banker, call them as soon as you can. You're not going to be able to reach them because they're going to be getting 10,000 calls, but just keep dialing, make sure that you are in close contact with them, and do whatever you can to be the first one to apply, because it's going to take awhile to get through."

You can also apply for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan instead of or in addition to a PPP loan. Unlike PPP loans, though, EIDL are not eligible for forgiveness. If you've already applied for a disaster loan, you may be able to refinance and convert it into a PPP loan to have it forgiven.

Look for local funding sources

At city and state level, there are other sources of funding for small businesses. Philadelphia created a $60 million fund to offer loans to small businesses. Chicago just launched a $100 million fund. Other cities and states are making resources available, too. 

"Unfortunately, there isn't a one-stop shop where you can find this right now," Roth said. "But Google is your best friend. So are the small businesses on the block with you who you've worked with before. Ask them where they're getting funding from. Find your local resources."

And as with the Paycheck Protection Program, he added, act quickly: "The demand… has been out of control."

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Oroho, Space & Wirths Remind Business Owners About Small Business Administration Loan Programs - InsiderNJ

Posted: 01 Apr 2020 11:35 AM PDT

Oroho, Space & Wirths Remind Business Owners About Small Business Administration Loan Programs

Senator Steve Oroho and Assemblymen Parker Space and Hal Wirths want to remind small business owners of a special loan program which is sponsored by the Small Business Administration (SBA).

All small business owners are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000.

"These are extremely tough times for small business owners in Sussex, Warren, and Morris counties," said Oroho (R-24). "These hard-working men and women need to look into programs that will help them out while we are in the emergency and until we get back to normal."

The SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide small business with vital economic support to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.

"New Jersey is one of the hardest places to survive as a small business as it is and the coronavirus is now making it near impossible," said Space (R-24).  "It's hard for people to grasp what it takes to own a business that you put your heart and soul into only to have an uncertain future, so is imperative that small business owners get support during these tough times."

Funds will be made available within three days of a successful application, and this loan advance will not have to be repaid.

"We all know small businesses are the backbone of our small towns," said Wirths (R-24).  "The local businesses which are open need our commerce, and those that face temporary shutdowns don't know how they will pay the bills. All business needs our support and fortunately we have this SBA program that can help."

To apply, please go to https://covid19relief.sba.gov/#/.  Senator Oroho and Assemblymen Space and Wirths also want to remind their constituents to check out their Facebook page for updates on state and federal government programs at https://www.facebook.com/NJ24th/.

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