Navigating the pandemic as a small business owner isn’t easy. But there’s a lot of help, so long as you know where to look. Here are ways you can help keep your business humming as California emerges from more than a year of COVID-19.
From bars to caterers and everything in between, the federal government has made close to $30 billion in relief available specifically to food businesses. That includes not just restaurants, but also food carts, stands and trucks, caterers, bars and saloons, bakeries, brew pubs, wineries and more. For a full list, click here.
For the first 21 days of the program, the SBA will exclusively select businesses owned by women, veterans and individuals who qualify as both socially and economically disadvantaged.
You can qualify for funding that equals your pandemic-era losses up to $10 million, and you won’t be required to pay it back so long as you use it no later than March 11, 2023.
Owners of concert halls, museums, playhouses, and more are eligible for up to $10 million in relief.
To qualify, you must have had your venue open by January 1, 2019.
This money is part of the SBA’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program. It includes more than $16 billion in grants for shuttered venues. For more on eligibility, click here.
There is a priority list. The SBA says it will consider applications from venues that have suffered the most during the pandemic. But there are a lot of ways a venue operator can use this money, from payroll expenses to insurance, rent, taxes and more.
OTHER INDUSTRY-SPECIFIC LOANS
Let’s say you don’t own a restaurant or a venue, but you still need financial assistance this year. You can apply for a federal Paycheck Protection Program loan.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is currently offering another round of PPP. If you own a small business, there’s a good chance you are eligible. This includes sole proprietors, who can now apply using their gross income instead of net, and business owners who use an ITIN instead of a Social Security Number to file a tax return.
The SBA will offer these loans until May 31 if you meet the following requirements:
- Any business that employs fewer than 500 people.
- This includes (but is not limited to) C corporations, S corporations, faith-based organizations, private nonprofits, tribal groups and veteran groups.
- If you’re self-employed, you may also qualify if you file an IRS Schedule C with your 1040 form. This includes independent contractors and sole proprietors.
- Your business must’ve been up and running prior to February 15, 2020 and still be open.
The first thing you need to do is get matched with a lender in your area. Click here to start that process. These loans are meant to keep your employees on payroll, and they’ll be fully forgiven if you meet all the following criteria (as a new applicant):
- Keep all your employees on payroll at their current compensation levels.
- Make sure the loan is used only for payroll costs and other eligible expenses.
- Ensure that 60% of the proceeds are spent on payroll costs.
If you’re a returning applicant, the rules are similar, EXCEPT you must spend your PPP loan in the same way you did the first time around.
Remember, just because you secured a PPP loan in the past does not mean you can’t apply again. Plus, you may also be eligible for loan forgiveness.
For more information, head to the SBA’s PPP loan application website here.
COUNTY-SPECIFIC LOAN AND GRANT PROGRAMS
If your application for a PPP loan is unsuccessful, or you need additional assistance, look no further than your own county’s website.
From Los Angeles to Orange, counties across California are offering loan and grant assistance for struggling small businesses.
In LA, there is money for Black and women-owned small businesses and rebates for wastewater charges.
Across Orange County, cities are stepping up with additional help to keep businesses running. In Anaheim, there’s grant money and free PPE for restaurants. In Santa Ana, up to $5,000 is available for microbusinesses, defined as an enterprise with five or fewer employees.
Make sure to check your own city and county’s COVID relief web pages for additional opportunities.
If you don’t meet any of the requirements for a county grant, you can also apply for relief from the state.
You may be eligible for tax extensions and even relief via the state Department of Tax and Fee Administration. For more information, click here.
If your business has recovered, but you need some additional capital investment, you may be able to secure financing via the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank (iBank). Its Loan Guarantee Program has helped business owners in sectors such as agriculture, construction, hospitality and more.
To check out the full list of the state’s remaining aid options, click here.
FREE PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT FOR EMPLOYEES
In Los Angeles, the county is offering a 30-day free supply of personal protective equipment (PPE). This includes face masks, hand sanitizer and face shields at no cost, so long as supplies last. The amount of PPE may vary depending on your business and its needs. Click here to apply.
In Orange County, officials say they’ve already provided more than 60,000 small businesses with PPE. For future distribution, check their website here.
A number of cities across Southern California are also conducting similar programs. Make sure to check your local city website for more information.