A variety of programs have launched to help small businesses who are experiencing financial difficulty due to COVID-19. Here I discuss loans, grants, and unemployment compensation.
COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan & Grant
The US has always offered economic disaster loans, but under the CARES and other acts, some special options are available. This includes a 10k loan that can become a grant under the correct circumstances. Uniquely, this grant is available to sole proprietors and independent contractors, including gig workers.
The special circumstances that can turn your 10k loan into a grant include covering the following:
- Paid leave
- Increased costs because of supply chain disruption
- Mortgage or lease payments
- Meeting other obligations due to revenue loss
Some Details about the Coronavirus Loan Program Under CARES
- Up to $2M
- 30 year term
- Small business interest rates are 3.75%
- Payments deferred for a full year
For more, see this article at Forbes, Getting Cash for your Small Business Through Cares
More Details and Application
For more information about the loans and grants see https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance and https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources
To begin the application process see https://covid19relief.sba.gov/#/ Either before or after you complete this process, contact your bank.
Eligibility for Unemployment Compensation
Unemployment compensation requirements are changing too. Normally sole proprietors are not eligible for unemployment. Many states already made changes, but under the CARES Act, additional coverage is available. Check with your state’s unemployment compensation website to site to see if you are now eligible. Make certain you are on the correct website. For example, this is Pennsylvania’s site https://www.uc.pa.gov/COVID-19/Pages/default.aspx The Pennsylvania site notes that Sole proprietors, independent contractors, and gig workers will receive special instructions and that they should not file using the traditional process.
Watch Out for Scammers
You may be perfectly comfortable completing the grant/loan application by yourself. If this is the case, please be certain you only access the appropriate .gov websites. Only government websites end in .gov. However, scammers may try to use some configuration of the word government or gov in their domain names. Also, keep in mind that when a website uses .org, it is not necessarily a nonprofit. Use of .org is not vetted.
If you are applying for anything through your state, make sure that the domain name is appropriate for your state. Normally this means the official abbreviation for the state along with .gov, but some states vary.
Be careful about clicking links in emails. It is better for you to actually type in the domain name yourself. Scammers are big on sending emails. I imagine phone calls and letters will start arriving soon too.
You will need to speak with your bank too. Obviously it is best to work with a bank with whom you already have a relationship. Watch out for random supposed banks sending emails, letters, or calling