Brower: Help for small businesses during COVID-19 emergency | SkyHiNews.com

Brower: Help for small businesses during COVID-19 emergency

By Patrick Brower
Patrick Brower, Grand Enterprise Initiative

People involved with helping local businesses and economic development in Grand County have been working hard in the last few days to try and find potential relief for the county’s small businesses who will be seriously hurt by this coronavirus emergency that is causing tumult around the world.

Here are the nuts and bolts that we have found with the help of DiAnn Butler, Grand County’s economic developer. There are two options available now. One is through a local economic development fund (Grand County BEDA) and the other is through the United States Small Business Administration (SBA).

First, the Grand County Business and Economic Development Association (BEDA), which we’ve used to provide smallish loans to small businesses starting or expanding in Grand County, has expanded its mission to include emergency relief for the coronavirus scare.

In its new COVID Business Bridge Loan Program, a limited amount of its funds will be made available through low interest loans to businesses who can demonstrate that they will need funds to get through this crisis. In the past, the limit on the loans has been $5,000.

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Businesses should be able to demonstrate the need for the money for basic expenses such as utilities and rent to get through this crisis period so they can be able to open again once the crisis has passed. Businesses should be able to provide basic documentation with the loan application such as operating history, a business plan (if available), recent profit and loss statements and tax statements of the owners.

The turnaround time can be fairly quick for this program.

This is a locally administered fund that we have worked with many times over the years. It has USDA rural business development funds in its reserves. Contact me (info below) or Frank DeLay at frankldelay@outlook.com for more information or to get a loan application.

On the federal level, the Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the coronavirus. Grand County has been included as an eligible area in this program.

Applicants must have fewer than 500 employees, must demonstrate direct impacts from COVID-19, offer services even indirectly impacted by the Coronavirus. Pot shops, casinos, charitable organizations and agricultural enterprises are not eligible.

Applicants must have a good credit history acceptable to the SBA, show cash flow proving ability to re-pay the loan and must show losses in the county related to COVID-19. Loans are for up to $2 million with an interest rate of 3.75 percent and 2.75 for nonprofits.

The hard part for the SBA loan is the documentation, that includes completed application, tax information authorization, tax returns, schedule of liabilities, persona financials, profit and loss statements and perhaps more.

Funds could be available within three weeks. Contact SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or by sending an e-mail to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

But we understand that the roadblock for some businesses who may need funds is the preparation and documentation needed to apply. I am available to help businesses understand what’s needed and how to prepare. DiAnn Butler (dbutler@co.grand.co.us) is also available to help understand the process and what’s needed to apply. If we can’t help then we can steer businesses to people who can.

Other programs through the state and other local entities are sure to become available, but these are the two that are available for now. Grand Innovators is working to help restaurants and small businesses operate as best as possible and to find online access points for students in need of internet access since the schools will be closed for a while.

In the meantime, patronize local businesses as best as you can by taking advantage of restaurant take-out options and accommodating rotating customer entry guidelines in place for a variety of local retailers.

Patrick Brower is the Enterprise Facilitator for the Grand Enterprise Initiative. He offers free and confidential business management coaching to anyone who wants to start or expand a business in Grand County. He can be reached by calling 970-531-0632 or at patrickbrower@kapoks.org.


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