New Coronavirus Relief Package - Including $15 Billion in Small Business Grants - Could Be a Reality as Early as March
In the early morning hours of February 5th, the Senate approved a budget resolution which will likely pave the way for a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. Included in the proposal are a number of items aimed at individual assistance like another round of stimulus checks and extended unemployment benefits. The proposal also calls for brand new programs aimed at small businesses.
According to NPR, “The next step is for House and Senate committees to begin drafting legislation.” While there are still many elements of the proposal that will need to be negotiated, lawmakers are hopeful the final bill will go to a vote – and pass – as early mid-March.
Small Business Programs Under the Relief Package
The proposal currently includes $15 billion for a new grant program for small business owners. While full details of this grant program are not yet available as the legislative body works to negotiate and draft the bill, it will be separate from the existing Paycheck Protection Program and other current relief initiatives.
The proposal also aims to direct funds for small businesses through local channels. CNN reported, “[The new package] also proposes making a $35 billion investment in some state, local, tribal, and non-profit financing programs that make low-interest loans and provide venture capital to entrepreneurs.”
Many small businesses that have been impacted – but have not yet qualified or been otherwise unable to secure relief aid – may now have new options under these programs. As it currently stands, many in this group have been kept afloat in part by individual stimulus payments and unemployment benefits. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program expanded benefits to the self-employed as well as independent contractors and gig workers. The current proposal also includes an extension of this program.
Other Small Business Relief & Funding Options
State, City, and Local Programs – Although the new pandemic relief package is what is capturing national headlines, make sure to pay attention to your local news sources. Many states, cities, and other localities have created programs or are proposing diverting future federal funds to target the hardest-hit businesses in their areas through grants and other types of funding.
As an example, a measure was introduced this week in New York to set aside $100 million of the potential federal disaster funds that will result from the current proposal for an emergency small business grant program. On the other side of the country in California, they just closed their second round of applications for their small business relief grant program earlier this month.
Most states, and even certain cities, have current and forthcoming options available. Make sure to check your local government’s websites and keep a close eye on local news so you are aware of any programs that are – or may become – available to you.
Independent Business Initiatives – It’s not just state and local agencies that are offering relief. Many businesses that have fared well during the pandemic have or are rolling out their own initiatives. Earlier this year, Facebook rolled out and distributed a $100M small business grant program. Meanwhile, Comcast is setting up a grant program for minority-owned businesses in five major cities that will begin accepting applications in March. There’s a wide array of businesses offering their own programs.
Traditional Business Funding – Under certain circumstances, you may be able to pursue traditional business funding routes. This includes seeking investors or securing a bank loan. Perhaps you have an idea to pivot your business and offer a new product or service. Or, you may have an idea for a new pandemic-proof business. In these instances, more traditional funding options are still available to you. If you find yourself in need of a bank loan business plan or any documents to appeal to investors, Joorney can help.
Reminder on Existing SBA-Administered Relief Options
At this stage, nearly all small businesses are aware of the most popular and expansive programs provided for under the previous relief packages. It is important to note that most of these have received additional funding or are still open. These SBA-administered programs include the Payment Protection Program, the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loans, Express Bridge Loans, and debt relief for those that had loans prior to the pandemic.
Despite the optimism that the latest coronavirus relief package will be passed with relative ease, its fate is still uncertain and the parameters for the small business grants have yet to be confirmed. Thankfully, there are many other options that are currently and continue to become available. Even if you have been previously denied for small business support, it’s worth exploring your other options and keeping your ears and eyes opened to future opportunities that emerge as the pandemic lags on.