Vermont Small Business Coronavirus Resources

We’ve aggregated the expert’s advice on some of the most asked COVID-19 questions.

With the uncertainty for many industries during the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis we’ve heard many of our clients pondering similar questions regarding small business assistance. Everyone is experiencing the same uncertainty and the best way to fight that is with accessible information.

We figured sharing the resources we’ve come across would greatly benefit our local communities so here is a list of common questions and resources from experts to help answer them.

CARES ACT (Coronavirus Legislation)

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2020 (the CARES Act) has passed.

The relief package promises to deliver $2 trillion in federal funds. It includes $377 billion for small businesses, including loans that offer loan forgiveness for funds spent on payroll, rent, mortgage interest, and utilities.

Small business owners are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.

Forbes has created a perfect explanation of each provision in the legislation, including everything from business relief funds, student loan delays, unemployment benefits, and direct personal payments.

If you’d like to view the full Bill’s text it can be read on Congress’s website here.

Employee Retention

Included in the CARES Act is the Paycheck Protection Program. This program prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses.

The Paycheck Protection Program is designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on payroll by providing each small business a loan up to $10 million for payroll and certain other expenses.

If all employees are kept on payroll for eight weeks, SBA will forgive the portion of the loans used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. Up to 100 percent of the loan is forgivable.

Federal Tax Credit to Support Paid Sick Leave

Employers with less than 500 employees can claim a special 100% reimbursement for employee paid leave, up to 80 hours paid sick leave and expanded paid child care leave per employee. Self-employed individuals can receive an equivalent credit. We recommend discussing this option with your accountant or tax professional.

For more information, visit the IRS website.

Unemployment

Employees who experience reduced hours or layoffs due to COVID-19, are eligible to apply for unemployment benefits from the State of Vermont. Unemployment benefits have temporarily been expanded to an increase of $600/week on top of the previous max. The new act is also including freelancers and others not typically eligible for unemployment, and a 13-week benefit extension.

For more information, visit the Vermont Department of Labor website.

Types of Loans & Grants

There are multiple loan and grant programs rising to try and fill in for stagnated industries. Here is a quick list of both local and national COVID-19 funding resources:

SBA disaster loans

The CARES Act set the stage for Federally backed low interest SBA disaster loans with convertible grant opportunities. Small businesses under 500 employees that have experienced hardship due to COVID-19 can apply to the disaster loan program.

The application can be found here.

If you need help navigating the application process the US Chamber of Commerce has created a guide to navigating the disaster loan assistance application process.

Vermont Community Foundation Response Fund

VCF has established the COVID-19 Response Fund to support local nonprofits making a difference addressing community impact. They are looking to create an emergency response grant program but also want to provide long-term relief through ongoing philanthropy.

If you’d like to donate, VCF has set up online donations here.

Eligibility for the current Vermont Community Fun COVID-19 grant program consists of local and regional organizations that are on the front lines of serving vulnerable populations. If you’d like more information about their efforts they are addressing general inquiries through grants (@) vermontcf.org.

VSECU No-Interest Loans

VSECU has partnered with the Vermont Community Foundation to offer 24-month no-interest loans to local businesses that have lost income due to COVID-19. This offer is being extended to both current members and new members that sign up.

They are also offering some members a skip-a-pay program and custom solutions when warranted. If you’d like more information on all these programs they’ve set up an emergency loan page here.

IRS Payroll Tax Credits

The IRS has announced they will fully reimburse small and medium-sized organizations for the cost of any COVID-19 related employee leave. This reimbursement will be in the form of tax credits.

The IRS hasn’t will be allowing businesses to claim these credits early but is still deciding how to make this happen. When they determine the best course of action, they will be posting an announcement on their COVID-19 Information page.

Google & Facebook Ad Credits

Active advertisers on both platforms can apply for and receive ad credits applied to their accounts. The amount will vary depending on the length of advertising history and ad budget over the course of the account.

Facebook has pledged $100M to small businesses trying to keep advertising running during this time and Google has offered up $800M.

Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility

VBSR has been providing free helpful webinars on everything from businesses trying to navigate operating remotely to keeping the community safe during a time of social distancing.

Upcoming digital events related to COVID-19 can be found here.

Past events have been recorded for anyone to watch when it suits them:

  • Transitioning your Business to a Remote Workplace – watch here.
  • Coronavirus Response Toolkit for Workplaces and Families – watch here.
  • Discussion on the Federal Response to COVID-19 with Congressman Peter Welch – watch here.
  • How to Support your Employees with Child Care Needs during COVID-19 – watch here.
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Keeping your business and community safe (partial recording) – watch here.

Finding Essentials

Are you having trouble finding the items you need most? Instok was put up almost overnight by two college student’s Rithwik Pattikonda and Darshan Bhatta who were trying to help their parents find in-stock items at their local grocery stores. They've received National coverage in everything from hometown papers to USAToday.

Instok will browse the online inventory of big box stores (Walmart, Target, etc.) by your zip code to try and locate which ones are carrying the items you need and which ones are out of stock. COVID-19 panic buying has made the simple chore of shopping extremely difficult for many families and Instok can help better organize your next shopping trip.

Vermont Small Business Development Center

It might be hard to think about what happens after this current disaster ends, but it’s important to plan towards the future and have something to look forward to. That’s why VtSBDC published the Disaster Recovery Guide for Businesses.

This free resource is used to assist in the navigation of business operations post-disaster. We recommend that while using this guide you reach out to a VtSBDC advisor to help you through the process.

Additional Vermont Resources

The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development has published and is actively managing the COVID-19 Guidance For Vermont Businesses webpage. They’ve outlined critical measures instituted in Vermont for both personal and business matters.

This page will continue to be updated with news announcements and new legislation that will directly impact residents. Keep an eye on these resources for further developments.

Local Restaurants Still Open

Don't forget to support the local restaurants that are trying to find a way to keep their doors open and staff paid. SevenDays put together a guide for restaurants by location who are staying open with curbside pickup and delivery. If you are trying to figure out dinner for the night help your favorite restaurant keep the money flowing.

Did we miss something important?

Let us know by emailing support (@) bluehousegroup.com. We will be constantly updating this list of regional resources to best help our clients and friends find the information that is most valuable to everyone.