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COVID-19 Resources

You hear a lot about supporting local business in Columbia and we're proving right now that it’s more than just a slogan. We’ve heard from so many people over the past months—people reaching out to help and to offer support—that we are confident Columbians are up to the task.

Our first priority is the health and safety of our community.  At the start of the COVID-19 crisis, our businesses shifted to no-contact options such as online sales, curbside pickup, drop off options, and phone consultations in order to keep their customers and their employees safe. And now that our businesses are reopened, we are committed to these extraordinary efforts to ensure that everyone remains safe and healthy.

We're already starting the recovery and rebuilding efforts here on The Loop so as resources become available on a local, state, and federal level, we will update this list. We realize that navigating these options may be difficult so we recommend reaching out to a business counselor. 

The MO Women’s Business Center and the MU Small Business Development Center (MU SBDC) are two free options we recommend. The MU SBDC is adding additional staff to assist small businesses in the Columbia region and yes, the Women's Business Center will offer counseling to men as well. If you have a local lender, they are also a great resource. For additional information that may be helpful to businesses, including HR guidelines and tax relief, we recommend visiting the Columbia Chamber of Commerce website.

Microenterprise Loans

The City of Columbia Housing Programs Division is excited to announce the availability of grant funding for locally owned small businesses with 5 or fewer employees.  The Microenterprise Recovery Loan Program application portal will be open and available to applicants on September 15, 2020 from 8am to 5pm. 

Eligible businesses may receive a $5,000 forgivable loan to cover business interruption, adaptation and resiliency expenses in response to the impact of COVID-19.  A list of program guidelines and required application materials can be found on the City's webpage at:  https://www.como.gov/community-development/neighborhoods/housingprogramsdivision/microenterprise-recovery-loan-program/.  An employee income certification form included as a requirement within the application can also be downloaded and completed prior to the opening of the application portal. 

A link to the portal can be found here:  https://portal.neighborlysoftware.com/como/Participant 

The City of Columbia's nonprofit community partner, Central Missouri Community Action (CMCA) Women's Business Center, is also available to assist in providing technical support to businesses navigating the application process.  Contact info can be found on their website at:  https://mowbc.org/

Look for an additional funding announcement for business with more than 5 employees in early October.  For more information about the Microenterprise Recovery Loan Program, please contact Randy Cole, [email protected], or 573-874-6321.

Public Health Order - October 1

Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services (PHHS) Director Stephanie Browning has issued Public Health Orders 2020-12 and 2020-12(c). These orders are extensions of the previous orders, 2020-11 and 2020-11(c), and are set to expire at 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 20, unless otherwise extended, rescinded or modified. 

All restrictions remain in effect. There are no modifications from the previous orders. While Browning has extended the orders, the Columbia city code requires the order to be ratified by the City Council if in effect for more than 21 days. Council will discuss ratification at the Oct. 5 meeting.

Under Orders 2020-11 and 2020-11(c) the number of new daily cases within Boone County stabilized to a 14-day rolling average of 40. The number of positive cases in the 18-22 age group also decreased by 60.9%. Additionally, the 14-day case rate per 10,000 within Columbia has fallen from a high of 91.4 on Sept. 7 to 38.6 on Sept. 30.

It is also important to note that as of Oct. 1, Boone County hospitals have 71 COVID-19 inpatients, which is the highest number of inpatients during the pandemic. Boone County residents make up roughly 15% of COVID-19 patients at this time, which provides further evidence that current restrictions are providing effective protective health measures for the community.

"The data supports the measures we are keeping in place. We feel that these measures, along with continued education, enforcement and daily evaluation of data, have helped ensure cases don’t rise dramatically and strain local resources" said Browning. "This extension will allow us to focus on ensuring that local resources are adequate to meet the increased need that is likely to occur when restrictions are slowly lifted."

Boone County residents are strongly encouraged take simple steps to protect themselves and the people they care about:
  • Wear a mask when you leave home.
  • Keep at least 6 feet of distance from anyone you do not live with. 
  • Keep gatherings small and outside if possible.
  • Wash your hands, cover your cough, and keep up your best hygiene and sanitation.
  • Stay home if you’re sick.
  • Contact your medical provider and seek testing if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been knowingly exposed to the virus through close contact. 

Public Health Order - September 18

Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services (PHHS) Director Stephanie Browning has issued Public Health Order 2020-11 and 2020-11(c). These orders go into effect at 12 a.m. on Sept. 18 and are set to expire at 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 6, unless otherwise extended, rescinded or modified. 

All restrictions under the previous health orders remain in effect. There are modifications to the order detailed below.

  • Entertainment venues, bars and restaurants serving alcohol must close by 10:30 p.m. The restrictions on stopping alcohol service at 9 p.m. is no longer in effect. 
  • Bars, restaurants and other food establishments that do not comply with the Orders are considered to be in violation of the food code and may require the establishment to discontinue operations and remain closed until an Operational Plan is submitted and approved by PHHS as stated in section 1.20. 
  • Operational Plans are now required to be submitted 14 days in advance of an event rather than the previous requirement of 30 days.

Boone County has seen a decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases since the order went into effect on Aug. 28. The five day average of new positive cases peaked on Sept. 5 at 143.4, but later fell to 65.2 on Sept. 16. This decrease was in the three weeks following the order, suggesting that restrictions in place are lowering the opportunities for transmission of the virus.

"While this is a promising change in our data, we are cautiously optimistic," said Browning. "We hope that extending this order can help continue slowing the spread of COVID-19 so that we are able to begin slowly loosening restrictions without seeing increased cases again."

PHHS is working to meet all reopening criteria, including the ability to maintain active disease investigation, contact tracing and monitoring. PHHS continues to address this by hiring additional staff with CARES Act funding. 

Boone County residents can take simple steps to protect themselves and the people they care about by:

  • Wear a mask when you leave home.
  • Keep at least 6 feet of distance from anyone you do not live with. 
  • Keep gatherings small and outside if possible.
  • Wash your hands, cover your cough, and keep up your best hygiene and sanitation.
  • Stay home if you’re sick.
  • Contact your medical provider and seek testing if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been knowingly exposed to the virus through close contact.

This release has the following attachments:

Health Order 2020-11 City of Columbia
Health Order 2020-11C Boone County
Health Order 2020-11 FAQ

Reopening Guidance for Businesses

Health officials from Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services (PHHS) have created evidence-based guidelines and regulations based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Road to Reopening: Guidance for businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic includes containment and mitigation strategies for business and industry in an effort to reduce the spread and prioritize the health and safety of our residents.

Please review the relevant sections for regulations concerning your business and how to keep employees and customers safe. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact their office at (573) 874-7355 or email [email protected].

City of Columbia Microenterprise Recovery Loan Program

In an effort to assist small businesses, the City of Columbia’s Housing Programs Division will be accepting Microenterprise Recovery Loan Program applications beginning Wednesday, April 15. The application period will remain open until the loan funds are exhausted. Forgivable loans of up to $5000 will be provided for approved local microenterprise businesses with five or fewer employees. Qualified businesses must apply for assistance through the City of Columbia's Housing Programs Division. Funds are limited.

Update: The City is also reallocating $400,000 for additional Microenterprise Loans and a Small Business Loan Fund so keep an eye out for these new options. Details will be available at www.como.gov

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) - REOPENED!

Loans are available up to $2 million 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 and 2.75% for private non-profit organizations with a term of up to 30 years. The amount of the loan is determined by your pre-COVID financial statements.

As part of this loan, a $10,000 immediate advance is included. The loan advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Funds will be made available within three days of a successful application, and the $10,000 loan advance will not have to be repaid.

More information at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela and a how-to guide for applying is available for download. To determine which option--the EIDL or the PPP (below)--is best for your business, the MOWBC and the MU Small Business Development Center are both offering assistance and advice to businesses interested in these loans.

Paycheck Protection Program

  • The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses. Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards.Under this program:
    • Eligible recipients may qualify for a loan up to $10 million determined by 8 weeks of prior average payroll plus an additional 25% of that amount.
    • Loan payments will be deferred for six months. Term is 2 years with a 1% fixed rate.
    • If you maintain your workforce, SBA will forgive the portion of the loan proceeds that are used to cover the first 8 weeks of payroll and certain other expenses following loan origination.
    • Starting April 3, 2020, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply for and receive loans to cover their payroll and other certain expenses through existing SBA lenders.
    • Starting April 10, 2020, independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply for and receive loans to cover their payroll and other certain expenses through existing SBA lenders.
    • If you are a micro-business (like all our local makers), and don't have a formal payroll company, you may offer bank statements to show employee payroll.

    Click here to learn more. To apply, contact your local bank. Both the Women's Business Center and the Small Business Development Center can point you to an approved lender as well.

Other Options

Unemployment Benefits

The MO Department of Labor has created a COVID-19 category for unemployment benefits. Congress authorized a temporary extension of benefits from 26 weeks to 39 weeks in states with a 10% spike in unemployment. They have removed the job search requirement and their website should be updated soon. There is still a waiting period of one week until benefits can be accessed and the state is waiting on guidance from the US Department of Labor on that. Details and application at https://labor.mo.gov/coronavirus.

Payroll Tax Credit

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act which will take effect on approximately April 2 and end on December 31, 2020 includes a refundable payroll tax credit to reimburse businesses for paid sick leave and family and medical leave wages paid to employees that are affected by COVID-19, allowing workers to care for themselves and loved ones impacted. Small and midsize employers can claim two new refundable payroll tax credits to reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing employee leave related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Find details at http://irs.gov/coronavirus

Local Lenders

We recommended reaching our to your bank to discuss options, such as micro-loans or lines of credit. (While you're at it, contacting your landlord for deferred or reduced rent is also a good idea.) Please note that getting a local disaster-related loan may prohibit you from receiving an SBA Disaster Loan so please speak to your bank about details.  We are working on other local initiatives so we will keep you posted.

Red Back Pack Fund for Women-Owned Small Businesses

The Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation donated $5 million to support female entrepreneurs in the wake of COVID-19 and teamed up with GlobalGiving to establish the Red Backpack Fund. GlobalGiving will be overseeing the fund, making 1,000 grants of $5,000 each to female entrepreneurs in the U.S. to help alleviate the immediate needs and support the long-term recovery of those impacted by this crisis. Details and application at https://www.globalgiving.org/redbackpackfund/. They are upgrading the application process so please submit an email for updates.

Facebook Digital Gift Cards

During this challenging time, people are looking for ways to support the businesses that they love in their communities. One way they’re doing so is by purchasing gift cards, so Facebook is helping people easily discover digital gift cards for their local businesses. When you set up a digital gift card with one of their partners, people in your area will be able to discover it right on Facebook. When they click on your gift card, they’ll be able to purchase it online immediately.

If you don't already have a gift card program, Facebook can help you quickly establish and promote a digital gift card program so you can encourage customers to buy now and shop later. Details at https://www.facebook.com/business/boost/gift-cards.

Etsy Seller Support

Etsy is increasing offsite advertising by $5 million to promote Etsy products and shops our products on Google, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Bing. They are also introducing a flexible payment plan for sellers. Visit Etsy for details.

Yelp Restaurant Support

Yelp is offering support to restaurants and bars who are currently advertising on Yelp as well as deep discounts for new customers. They are also offering free access to Yelp Reservations and/or Yelp Waitlist the next three months. Visit Yelp for details.

Support Local Gift Card Program

Support Local is an initiative that lets you show your support for your local businesses during this challenging time by purchasing gift cards now to be redeemed later. The platform is built by Gannett, a news media company that includes USA TODAY, but is merely a pass-through to individual business websites. Business can sign up to offer gift cards and customers who still want t0 support local can visit Columbia's page.

Columbia Tribune Interactive Map

The Tribune is creating an interactive map of local businesses to give customers quick click information about changes in hours, special services like delivery, curbside pick up, or even virtual tours - whatever you need them to know. Business owners can access a Google Form to add basic information (business name, phone number, address, website URL, etc.) and what information you want your customers to know right now.  That information will be imported into an online map.

The Loop
601 Business Loop 70 W#128
Columbia, MO 65203
(573) 443-LOOP
[email protected]

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