As a digital marketing firm dedicated to serving small businesses, and as a Total Small Business ourselves, LuckyTamm Digital Marketing understands the anxiety and fear you’ve probably been experiencing over the past few weeks while COVID-19 has upended life as we know it. With a record-setting 3.3 million applications for unemployment benefits the week ending March 21, many small businesses are facing very difficult times.
If your small business has been affected by COVID-19, due to employees becoming ill or shelter-in-place mandates, there are a number of resources that can help.
New Loans for Small Businesses through the CARES Act
The biggest news for small businesses right now has been the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which allocated $10 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) and $350 billion for Paycheck Protection Loans for small businesses affected by COVID-19. These methods can help you get cash for your business to stay afloat, although timelines on payouts are still undefined.
Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) for SMBs
The EIDL option includes a $10,000 emergency grant that can be forgiven if your organization spends the money on any of the following:
- Paid leave for sick or non-working employees
- Maintaining payroll
- Increased costs due to supply chain interruptions
- Mortgage or lease payments
- Repaying obligations that can’t be met due to revenue loss
The CARE Act has made it possible for sole proprietors, independent contractors, tribal businesses, cooperatives, and ESOPs with fewer than 500 employees and nonprofits can apply for the available loans and grants. You can apply for an EIDL or the grant directly at the Small Business Administration here.
Paycheck Protection Loans for Employee Payroll and PTO
The Paycheck Protection Loan Guarantee is available to small businesses with fewer than 500 employees, although some businesses with fewer than 1,500 employees may also be eligible. 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations with fewer than 500 employees and 501(c)19 veteran organizations are also eligible, as are self-employed, sole proprietors, freelancers and gig economy workers.
Similarly to the $10,000 EIDL grants noted above, these loans are forgiven if used for any of the following:
- Payroll costs
- Rent pursuant to a lease
- Utilities including electricity, gas, water, transportation, telephone, or internet access expenses
- Group health insurance premiums and other healthcare
There are some stipulations that you must follow in order for these loans to be forgiven. For instance, your organization has to maintain the same average number of employees for the first eight-week period beginning on the origination date of the loan as you did from February 15, 2019 – June 30, 2019 or from January 1, 2020 until February 15, 2020. You may receive some forgiveness for part of the loan, but the forgiven amount will be reduced. You can do a step-by-step calculation at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce website here. You also have to personally certify that your company qualifies as a small business.
To apply for a Paycheck Protection Loan, go directly to a local lending institution.
Help for Government Contractors through PTACs
Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) offer help to small businesses in the form of local, in-person counseling and training services. They provide technical assistance for any small business that wishes to sell products or services to federal, state, and/or local governments. They are continuing to provide this type of support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, so if you have been wondering if you can bid on government contracts or how to go about it, now is a great time to seek their assistance. They’re also conducting their counseling virtually right now to comply with stay-at-home orders. You can find your local PTAC here.
Unemployment through the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions
If you have had to lay off your workers in New Mexico due to COVID-19, or if you’ve been laid off, the Department of Workforce Solutions (DWS) is working to help anyone affected by the disease to apply for unemployment benefits. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is part of the CARES Act, and will be available to self-employed, independent contractors, and gig economy workers for the first time this year.
If you’re calling the Unemployment Insurance Operations Center, you will have a designated day to call based on the last number of your Social Security Number: 0 – 3 : Monday 4 – 6 : Tuesday 7 – 9 : Wednesday Missed your day: Thursday and Friday — Michelle Lujan Grisham (@GovMLG) March 28, 2020
DWS is asking that as many people who can apply for unemployment benefits through their website here, as their phone lines are extremely overrun. However, if you must call, to apply for benefits, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has asked that you call on a day designated by the last digit of your social security number:
- 0-3: Monday
- 4-6: Tuesday
- 7-9: Wednesday
- Missed your day: Thursday or Friday
The number to call is 877.664.6984.
State Resources for Small Businesses, Families, and Individuals
New Mexico lawmakers and business leaders are working together to help small businesses and their families across the state. Please check out these links for help with specific issues.
- Roadrunner Food Bank can help families or individuals who are facing hunger get food for free. Call (505) 349-5240 or (575) 523-4390 or visit their online food assistance tool for help.
- U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich has created an extensive list of New Mexico resources for small businesses here, including banks, credit unions, utilities, and phone and internet service providers.
- Download this Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act from the U.S. Senate for more information on getting started.
National Resources for Small Businesses
There are a number of national organizations that are mobilizing to help small businesses navigate the relief efforts currently. Please visit their websites to learn more.
Of course, one of the best things we can all do as small businesses is to help each other. Support local restaurants by ordering delivery or take out when you can; offer your services to those in need free-of-charge when you can; donate to the local food bank; and be smart with your marketing efforts to keep from causing more emotional damage. We are all in this together, and we will come out stronger on the other side.
If your business needs help with crisis communications during the COVID-19 quarantine, please get in touch with us — we can help.