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Coronavirus Small Business Financial Assistance in NYC - How To Apply

Khang T. Vuong13 May 2020

New York City is home to 220,000 businesses, 98% are small businesses with less than 100 employees. The Coronavirus quarantine has put many small businesses into difficult financial situations and triggered many to start laying offs. We have compiled a list of resources below for you to help you navigate which is the right program you could qualify for:

Relief Programs for Small Businesses During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Amid 814 reported cases of coronavirus, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio just ordered businesses to limit their operations, with no clear timeline for reopening. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit small businesses hard, forcing bars, restaurants and entertainment venues to close and economically impacting nearly all small business owners.

During this period of social distancing, small businesses may be wondering what they can do to keep their doors open and continue supporting their employees. These resources are designed to help local businesses manage the COVID-19 crisis while sacrificing as little of their profits as possible.

Financial Assistance for Small Businesses Impacted by Coronavirus COVID-19

Many businesses are experiencing a loss in profits associated with the coronavirus pandemic. Thankfully, Mayor de Blasio announced on March 8 that the City would provide relief for small businesses that can demonstrate at least a 25% loss in revenue due to the coronavirus.

NYC Small Business Continuity Fund

Businesses with fewer than 100 employees that meet the criteria may be eligible for up to a $75,000 loan from the Small Business Continuity Fund, with 0% interest and repayment terms of 15-20 years. In order to qualify, your business must:

  • Be located within the five boroughs of New York City
  • Demonstrate that the COVID-19 outbreak caused at least a 25% decrease in revenue
  • Employ 99 employees or fewer across all locations
  • Demonstrate the ability to repay the loan
  • Have no outstanding tax liens or legal judgments

Requirements: to demonstrate a loss in revenue, the City of New York requires documentation such as point-of-sales reports, bank statements, quarterly sales tax filings, 2019 tax returns or CPA-certified profit and loss statements.

Businesses are encouraged to gather their documentation in preparation for the loan program to become available. Apply here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/N336ZYB

"New Yorkers are resilient. We will live through this. Together"

NYC Employee Retention Grant Program

Businesses with fewer than five employees may be eligible for a grant of up to $27,000 to cover up to 40% of payroll costs for two months to help retain employees. (Non-profits may also be eligible.) In order to qualify, your business must:

  • Be located within the five boroughs of New York City
  • Demonstrate that the COVID-19 outbreak caused at least a 25% decrease in revenue
  • Employ one to four employees across all locations
  • Have been in operation for at least six months
  • Have no outstanding tax liens or legal judgments

The application for the grant program can be found by clicking here. The City of New York requires that you provide documentation, including:

  • Financial documents for at least two months in 2020 demonstrating revenue decrease due to COVID-19
  • Financial documents showing your revenue for the same two months in 2019 (unless you were not in business at that time)
  • Financial documents showing your revenue for the full 2019 calendar year
  • Your most recent two months of payroll records (to determine your grant amount)

Financial documents can include point-of-sales reports, bank statements, quarterly sales tax filings, 2019 tax returns or CPA-certified profit and loss statements.

Additionally, you will need a signed Participation Affidavit certifying that you are eligible to participate in the program as well as your bank account information. Apply here: https://www1.nyc.gov/nycbusiness/article/nyc-employee-retention-grant-program

Facebook Grant Program

The City of New York is not the only place to find resources for coping with COVID-19; private entities like Facebook are also stepping up to provide financial assistance to small businesses in need.

In total, Facebook is offering $100 million in cash grants and credits for up to 30,000 small businesses around the globe. Awards from this grant program can help cover payroll costs, rent costs, marketing costs and other operational costs.

Applications are not yet live for this grant program, but in the meantime, businesses can sign up for updates and access additional

Facebook Grant Program

Healthcare Help

Keeping up with rent and utilities is already tough, having to maintain healthcare coverage while doing so can be extremely stressful for business owners, especially when the average monthly premium can cost north of $400 a month per individual in NYC.

Individuals making less than $16,753 could qualify for the NY State Medicaid program. If your annual income is between $16,754 and $48,560, you could qualify for ACA subsidies for the ObamaCare plan - which costs between $150-$300 with subsidies.

If you are not qualified for either, Mira has an affordable option for non-hospital medical services that only costs $25/month, regardless of income level. If you are a business owner, you could also provide Mira for current employees, or offer Mira along with exit packages. It's the right thing to do.

Healthcare is an essential needs and there are helps available in NYC

SBA Disaster Loan

At the federal level, the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering up to $2 million in disaster loans to small businesses facing economic turmoil due to the coronavirus.

Payment terms last up to 30 years to keep payments affordable and are determined on a case-by-case basis, with a fixed interest rate of 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for non-profits.

Following your application, the SBA will review your credit and estimate the total economic injury to your business to determine if you are eligible for a disaster loan. The SBA aims to arrive at a decision within two to three weeks after submitting your application. If you are awarded an SBA Disaster Loan, you will receive an initial disbursement of $25,000 within five days. You will also be assigned a case manager to help you meet all requirements for maintaining loan eligibility.

Businesses located in Westchester, Duchess and Putnam counties in New York are eligible to apply for an SBA Disaster Loan. Those with other credit available are not eligible to apply for the SBA Disaster Loan.

Applications are available online and to print. Applicants applying for assistance due to the coronavirus are instructed to select “Economic Injury” only when indicating the type of damage their business has suffered.

In addition to your signed and completed application, you will also need to submit a Tax Information Authorization form and complete copies of your most recent federal tax return. You will also need to provide a Personal Financial Statement for each principal owning at least 20% of the company, as well as each general partner or managing member. Finally, you will need to attach a Schedule of Liabilities form listing all fixed debts you owe on behalf of your business.

SBA Disaster Loan

Federal Assistance Checks

The Treasury Department has also proposed issuing two checks to every American as part of an economic stimulus plan. This money can be used to help your business keep its doors open throughout the coronavirus crisis if necessary.

The proposal called for payments to be issued on April 6 and May 18, with a total of $250 billion issued nationwide. Cash payments have been proposed to amount to between $1,000 and $2,000 per person, per check.

Should the proposal go into law, these payments will be issued to qualified taxpayers by the IRS and the Bureau of the Fiscal Service. It is currently unclear whether low-income Americans or Americans who do not pay taxes due to disability or unemployment will be eligible for relief.

Unemployment, Paid Leave, Rent, Taxes and Utilities

Unemployment benefits may be available to business owners who have been quarantined (and are currently unpaid) due to the coronavirus, even if they have not lost their jobs. Click here to view more information about qualifying for unemployment benefits in the state of New York.

The coronavirus emergency relief package provides paid sick leave to most workers at small and midsize companies, as long as they have been employed at least 30 days. Qualified workers can receive two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined, seeking diagnosis or preventative care for coronavirus or are taking care of sick family members. Self-employed workers also qualify but must calculate their average daily income and claim it as a tax credit.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced a nationwide moratorium on eviction and foreclosure, meaning your small business is safe for at least 60 days – even if you cannot make your rent payments.

If you are a self-employed individual who owes less than $1 million in taxes, you may wait to pay federal taxes until July 15 with no penalties. At this time, the state of New York has not extended its state filing deadline for taxes due to the coronavirus.

Finally, many utility providers have agreed to stop cutting people off when they fail to meet their monthly payments for the time being. Internet companies who have agreed to do this include AT&T, Comcast, Sprint, T Mobile, Cox, RCN and Verizon. Water providers in the state of New York have also suspended shut-offs for the time being due to non-payment. If your gas and electric are provided by Con Edison, you are also protected from shutoffs until further notice.

NYC Health Guidance for Businesses

NYC Health recently released a set of guidelines for businesses to follow in order to support social distancing measures during the coronavirus pandemic. Some of the measures they are encouraging business owners to consider include:

  • Allowing employees to telecommute (if the job allows)
  • Creating flexible work schedules with staggered hours
  • Informing employees of paid sick leave policies
  • Encouraging employees to stay home when sick and not to return until they are well
  • Relaxing leave policies to accommodate staff following guidance to stay home until well
  • Asking staff to walk or bike to work to reduce overcrowding on public transportation

Symptoms of Distress or Harassment

If you or your employees are experiencing symptoms of distress such as trouble sleeping or feeling sad, anxious or overwhelmed, please contact NYC Well. This confidential helpline is staffed 24/7 by trained counselors who can provide support in over 200 languages. To reach NYC Well, call (888) 692 - 9355 or text "WELL" to 65173.

Unfortunately, misinformation regarding the coronavirus is leading some people to experience harassment. If you or an employee is being harassed due to race, nation of origin or other identities, you may report harassment to the NYC Commission on Human Rights by calling 311 and saying "human rights."

We recommend gathering the appropriate documentation prior to applying. If applicable, contact your CPA for assistance in documenting your finances for the grant application.

Crisis Management Advice for Businesses During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Any business handling a crisis needs a crisis management strategy to reassure customers during uncertain times. Given the COVID-19 crisis, your customers might be afraid about what the future has in store for them.

Hearing from their favorite local businesses can provide much-needed reassurance to restore their faith during times of trouble. Plus, loyal customers can step up to provide your business with help during its time of need.

If you are a small business managing the COVID-19 crisis, here are some guidelines for communicating with your customers about the coronavirus and what it has in store for your business:

  • Share updated hours of operations and policies. Your hours of operation may be impacted by COVID-19, especially if you are a restaurant or bar who has been mandated to provide carryout and delivery only. Remind customers of your updated store hours and policies so they know where and when to reach you during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Provide frequent updates via email and social media. Many businesses, as you know, have been providing updates to your inbox and social media feeds about how the coronavirus is impacting their business. Keeping customers in the loop helps them feel connected with you, even during times when they might not be able to visit your in-person location.
  • Consider discounts or adjusted operations. To accommodate social distancing guidelines, you may want to offer discounts on delivery fees and/or shipping for online orders. Instead of in-store pickup, you may offer curbside delivery on customers‚Äô orders straight to their cars. Or, if you are a restaurant, you may consider expanding on delivery hours and waiving costs in order to better meet customers‚Äô needs during the time of the coronavirus.
  • Share what you are doing to help. Customers love to see small businesses working to impact the communities around them. Share what you are doing to encourage good health and hygiene in your store, such as disinfecting frequently or allowing employees to work from home, via communication channels like email and social media. You may also want to connect with other small businesses in your area to see how you can work together to help one another through these trying times due to the coronavirus.

References:

https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/covid/covid-19-main.page

https://www.facebook.com/business/boost/grants

https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources

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