By Melissa M. Stewart
5 Crucial COVID-19 Resources For Small Businesses
The COVID-19 crisis has had devastating consequences for small businesses in Coastal Virginia, with companies across the region being forced to close their doors, cut staff and face large reductions in profits. The good news? A plethora of easy-to-access virtual resources are available for assistance.
With the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security) Act signed into law, and loans offering much-needed reprieve, there is help out there. But knowing where to begin and what you qualify for can be daunting. Tons of websites offer information about federal programs, but we wanted to put together a list of five key local and state-wide resources aimed at helping small businesses navigate the negative effects of coronavirus.
Whether you need financial aid, ideas and education on creating new revenue streams and protecting employees or supportive advice from other area companies, these sites will help ensure you have a plan to successfully survive the pandemic and recover quickly after a return to business as usual.
The Hampton Roads Chamber has put together a very useful, all-encompassing page with links to many of the most important COVID crisis resources for small business owners. Find out all you need to know about access to loans and grants, including how to apply, tools and tips for staying open and safe if you qualify, crucial details of the CARES Act, recommendations for best business practices and even suggestions for keeping your staff productive by using suggested remote apps like Zoom or GoToMeeting. Check back often, as the site is being updated continuously as new information becomes available.
This online forum is perfect for small business leaders who thrive when given the ability to interact and receive guidance. Start by reading the advice blog, and then sign up to visit the message board and participate in daily and weekly discussions. Perhaps the best feature is being able to direct questions to different local experts each week. Not only is this type of sharing helpful but taking advantage of virtual contact is also vital to keeping the business community connected.
Another great compilation of resource links, this one put together by the Virginia Chamber. The digestible list cuts through the crisis clutter and provides all the pertinent resources, including communications from the Virginia Department of Taxation for businesses, Virginia Department of Health statistics and all of the updates from the office of Gov. Ralph Northam. Info@VaChamber.com.
The Small Business Development Center has staff members located throughout the state who are available to meet with small business owners virtually by phone or web conferencing. Visit their site to make an appointment with an advisor and ask questions on creating a COVID-19 strategy specific for your business needs. Also access live and pre-recorded webinars with useful topics such as managing a remote workforce, good online hiring practices and much more.
The Hampton Roads Workforce Council and Greater Peninsula Workforce Board have received funding from the Governor, through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, to specifically assist employers that are eligible to remain open during the COVID-19 emergency. Funds are reserved for small businesses (250 employees or less) and may be used to clean facilities and support emergency needs. The grant supports avoiding layoffs minimizing the duration of unemployment. This Virginia Career Works site includes an information sheet on the grants, a link to download the application and step-by-step instructions on the process.