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What help is available for businesses?

Updated April 2, 3:00  pm

As resources become available on a local, state, and federal level, we will update this list. Please check back regularly.  We also recommend visiting the Columbia Chamber of Commerce website for additional information that may be helpful to businesses, including HR guidelines and tax relief.

Assistance for Businesses

Congress recently passed another stimulus bill designed to offer businesses impacted by COVID-19 additional assistance. Below is our updated list of resources available. 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.

Please note: The SBA has streamlined their online application process so businesses should now visit https://covid19relief.sba.gov to apply for the SBA Disaster Loans and the new Economic Injury Disaster Loans.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Loan Advance (EIDL)

In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are eligible to apply for the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.

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.

Questions about the EIDL loan application? Watch this step by step video from the MU SBDC on how easy it is to apply at: https://sbdc.missouri.edu/sbdc-covid-19-resources.

To apply for a COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan, click here.

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

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.

Updates and Changes!

  • Religious organizations and farms qualify for the PPP program.
  • PPP disbursements should be made within 10 calendar days of approval.
  • The amount of forgiveness of a PPP loan depends on the borrower’s payroll costs over an eight-week period beginning on the date of the initial disbursement of the PPP loan to the borrower.

Keep in mind this is essentially 2 months of grace period for your business. If you are unable to keep your business open and revenues coming in, it may make more sense to lay off employees so they can access the improved unemployment benefits instead. Consider your current circumstances and how resilient your business is and speak with a business counselor or local lender about options.

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. At the moment, Bank of America, Hawthorn Bank, Central Bank, Bank of Missouri, Simmons Bank, and Callaway Bank are all approved SBA lenders but more may be added so check your local lender first.

SBA Debt Relief

The SBA Debt Relief program will provide a reprieve to small businesses who have SBA loans as they overcome the challenges created by this health crisis.

Under this program:

  • The SBA will also pay the principal and interest of new 7(a) loans issued prior to September 27, 2020.
  • The SBA will pay the principal and interest of current 7(a) loans for a period of six months.

If you have an existing SBA loan, contact your local lender for details.

Lost in the sea of acronyms? Check out this handy cheat sheet.

Screen Shot 2020 04 10 at 5.58.06 PM

SBA Express Bridge Loans

Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program allows small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 with less paperwork. These loans can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing and can be a term loans or used to bridge the gap while applying for a direct SBA Economic Injury Disaster loan. If a small business has an urgent need for cash while waiting for decision and disbursement on Economic Injury Disaster Loan, they may qualify for an SBA Express Disaster Bridge Loan.

  • Up to $25,000
  • Fast turnaround
  • Will be repaid in full or in part by proceeds from the EIDL loan

Find an Express Bridge Loan Lender by connecting with your local SBA District Office.

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 but the City is also reallocating $400,000 for a Small Business Loan Fund so keep an eye out for that. Details and application at https://www.como.gov/community-development/neighborhoods/housingprogramsdivision/microenterprise-recovery-loan-program/.

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.

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.

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.

Facebook Small Business Grants

Facebook is offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries where we operate. Details forthcoming but sign up for email notifications at Facebook.

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.

Assistance for Those in Need

Displaced Workers

State of Missouri has an online resource for individuals that may have lost a job, or looking for new employment. Employers that need to fill positions with qualified workers can also use this site to connect with job seekers. All services are available to job seekers and employers at no cost. Visit jobs.mo.gov for details.

State Social Services

The State of Missouri has relaxed requirements for SNAP/Food Stamps, Medicaid, and Child Care Subsidies. Details at https://governor.mo.gov/press-releases/archive/governor-parson-protects-missouris-most-vulnerable-citizens-and-workers.

Prescription Drug Assistance

Need assistance with prescriptions not covered by insurance? Visit https://familywize.org  to download the free prescription discount card.

General Assistance for Those in Need

Heart of Missouri United Way and Community Foundation of Central Missouri have a resource page offering assistance to those who are struggling as a result of COVID-19. If you need assistance finding food, childcare, paying household bills, locating mental health services, or other essential services, visit this www.comohelps.org or dial 211.

The City of Columbia and Boone County are coordinating our community’s mass care and human services response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For up to date information about social service and healthcare resources for residents of Boone County, please visit the Get Help (Covid-19).

Donations to Help Those in Need

Heart of Missouri United Way, City of Columbia, Boone County, and Community Foundation of Central Missouri are also providing emergency funding to support local people who are struggling in the economic fallout from the pandemic. Please visit www.comohelps.org to donate or volunteer.

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