These are trying times for all of us and our small-business community is taking a real heavy hit during this COVID-19 outbreak. Business owners are going to be looking for a variety of tools to help manage this situation and I would like to pass along some information I hope is helpful.
Minnesota is among states where the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Disaster Loan Assistance Program’s low-interest loans are available to cover small-business operating expenses after a disaster declaration was issued.
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) indicates this program can provide low-interest loans of up to $2 million to small businesses and private non-profits. These loans can go toward working capital to meet needs including payroll, accounts payable, and fixed debt payments that can’t be paid due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Long-term repayment options of up to a maximum of 30 years are available at 3.75% interest, and at 2.75% interest for non-profits. Businesses can defer payments for the first four months and it is recommended owners apply online at sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance.
Loans can be directly dispersed within three weeks. Businesses will need to gather their tax statements from last year, in addition to providing financial information to show current and expected business losses.
Questions can be directed to the SBA Hotline at 1-800-659-2955. More information from Minnesota’s DEED can be found at https://mn.gov/deed/.
In addition, the state has launched a new loan program designed to help small business and independent contractors is available. It is aimed at bridging the gap until SBA Disaster Loans and other federal assistance can be disbursed and has features more attractive than the federal SPA program.
Key highlights include loans from $2,500 to $35,000, with 50% forgivable. The interest rate is 0%. Loans could start going out this week. The governor's executive order also allows cities and counties with revolving loan funds to issue loans on those funds. Check with DEED for the details.
These may not be a cure-all for everyone, but give businesses some options to consider as they await further action from he state and federal governments.
Protective equipment drive
Hospitals across the nation and here in Minnesota are running out of important personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks and gowns, that help keep them safe while diagnosing and treating patients.
Due to this nationwide shortage, the Minnesota Nurses Association, local hospitals, and others are calling for donations of factory-made N95 ear loop masks or for volunteers to create CDC-approved, reusable face masks. Instructions on how to make hand sewn masks can be found on their website.
Masks can be safely donated from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. through April 5 and can be dropped off at the following locations:
Please be sure to remain in your car when you arrive to donate. A staff member will come to you to accept your donation.
This is a great way to support our healthcare professionals as they treat and diagnose Minnesotans. Please be sure to thank a doctor or nurse today!
Red Cross needs your help
The Red Cross faces a severe shortage because nearly 2,700 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Blood drives account for more than 80 percent of blood that the Red Cross collects, so if you are healthy and eligible to donate, please visit RedCrossBlood.org, or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App to schedule an appointment.
I will keep you posted as this situation unfolds. Things seem to be changing by the minute and the Legislature could very well be called back to St. Paul as soon as later this week to take on some key bills to support efforts to mitigate COVID-19 and support responses.
Be safe, stay healthy and let me know if there is anything I can do to help.