Arizona businesses that are losing revenue due to the coronavirus can tap into a wealth of resources to help them stay afloat during the pandemic.
From grants, to no-interest loans, to technical assistance, there are many avenues for relief. One of the largest is the federal Paycheck Protection Program that opened its second round of funding for small businesses last week. It provides $310 billion for companies including those who lost out during the first round when the funding ran out in the first two weeks.
Glenn Hamer, president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry, is hoping the process will be easier and more accessible this time.
“More than one million jobs in Arizona are connected to small businesses and more than 350,000 Arizonans have filed unemployment claims in the past month,” Hamer said. “The administration of these federal programs must be simple for small business owners to navigate. If there isn’t radical improvement, then it could be too late for them.”
The Arizona Chamber and chambers statewide have as their top priority the survival of small businesses. Most chambers have links to resources, tips and “cheat sheets” in both English and Spanish on their websites to assist businesses.
Dozens of programs for small and mid-size companies
There is a wealth of resources designed to help businesses and employees survive financially during the pandemic including:
FEDERAL FORGIVABLE LOANS
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
Companies with 500 or fewer employees, including independent sole operators, may apply for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. Companies can receive up to two months of operating costs including payroll, rent and utilities. The majority of the funding is forgivable, acting more like a grant than a loan. Those applying should go through their regular bank or find a qualified lender on the Arizona Banking Association website at: SBA approved lenders.
Free training to navigate PPP application process
The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and the Arizona Small Business Association launched the CARES Act Readiness Program for Small Businesses, a free training program that helps both novice and experienced borrowers navigate the federal assistance program. The programs are in English at: Cares Act Arizona or Spanish at Cares Act Arizona Espanol.
FEDERAL LENDING FOR SMALL, MID SIZE COMPANIES
The Federal Reserve announced that it is establishing a Main Street Lending Program to support lending to small and medium-sized businesses that were in good financial standing before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information go to: Main Street Lending Program.
TAX CREDIT EXEMPTION FOR EMPLOYERS
The federal Employee Retention Tax Credit is a new tax credit program designed to help companies and nonprofits retain their employees during the coronavirus outbreak. Employers whose business operations are suspended, partially suspended or are experiencing significant revenue losses because of the virus outbreak are eligible for the tax credit exemption. To learn more, go to: Employee Retention Tax Credit Exemption.
The U.S. The Chamber of Commerce also has issued a guide to assist employers at: Employee Retention Tax Credit Guide.
INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS, FREELANCERS
Unemployment benefits for independent contractors
Due to COVID-19, independent contractors can qualify for unemployment payments in Arizona. In the past, this service was not available to freelancers and 1099 contractors. Applicants may receive up to $600 weekly during the pandemic. Expect a wait time as the Arizona Department of Economic Security is dealing with a record number of claims. For more information, go to: Az Unemployment.
NO INTEREST, LOW INTEREST LOANS
Kiva Tucson, Growth Partners Arizona and Community Investment Corporation have partnered to provide no-interest, no-fee, community-backed business loans from $1,000 to $15,000 that are crowdfunded on Kiva’s world-wide online platform. Learn more at: Kiva Tucson Loans:
Small Business Success Loan
Growth Partners Arizona, in collaboration with the Business Development Finance Corporation, are offering loans of $10,000-$75,000 to qualified small businesses for equipment, long-term working capital, tenant improvements, consolidation of more expensive debt, and more. For more information, go to: Business Success Loans.
HOTLINE HELP FOR PHOENIX BUSINESSES
City of Phoenix Hotline
Phoenix businesses hurt by the pandemic can call the hotline at (602) 262-5040 to be connected to resources, financial assistance, and more. The city does not have a call center so the hotline is the main phone number for Community and Economic Development. If possible, all calls are answered or returned within one business day.
The department also has a list of many resources available for city businesses at: Phoenix.gov/Resources.
The restaurant industry has been among the hardest hit in the pandemic. To help employees, a number of groups are offering grants and accepting donations to help including:
Arizona Restaurant Association Relief Fund provides immediate funding for restaurant workers impacted by the pandemic. Individual grants of $500 are being given to restaurant industry staff who have suddenly found themselves without a paycheck. Donations also are being accepted to help these employees. Go to: ARA Foundation Relief Fund.
Another Round Another Rally is providing $500 relief grants in emergency assistance for employees in hospitality. Chefs, servers, bartenders, dishwashers, sommeliers, managers and others in hospitality roles who have lost jobs or had hours slashed. The group has been flooded with requests so donations are welcome. More information is available at: Restaurant Relief Grants.
Chamber road maps and “cheat sheets”
Chambers of commerce statewide also have lists of local, state and federal resources to help businesses on their websites.
The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry offers a comprehensive resource guide at: Coronavirus Resources. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also has a host of links to resources and tips for small businesses and sole-operator companies at: Pandemic Resources.