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Where the Money Is for Small Businesses

The pain and insecurity of the shock of the coronavirus on small business owners have been overwhelming. Entrepreneurs have taken extreme steps to stay operational, and many are deeply worried about their prospects in the coming months and beyond.

But help is out there. Federal, state and local governments, as well as communities, corporations, and foundations have stepped up with financial resources.

For a small business trying to stay afloat during the shock of the coronavirus, every little bit of financial aid can have a bearing on their future.

For Amy Bass, owner of Nota Bene, a fine paper boutique in Pittsburgh, her lifeline was a small loan from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. “It helped by getting one of my full-time employees off unemployment and paying one month’s rent,” she said.

It has been a rough ride as she worked through the two-month closure. “We are now open, but pretty much all events throughout the end of the year, including holiday parties have been canceled,” Ms. Bass said. “It will be a long year for us.”

Here’s a rundown of what is available, but keep in mind that the rules continue to change:

Small Business Administration

The agency is providing grants and low-interest loans for small-business owners financially impacted as a result of Covid-19. But a warning: Demand is high, and the process may not be swift.

The Paycheck Protection Program provides a loan that is fully forgiven if the funds are used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities (a portion of the forgiven amount must have been used for payroll). No collateral or personal guarantees are required. Neither the government nor lenders will charge businesses any fees.

Forgiveness is based on the employer maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels. Forgiveness will be reduced if the full-time headcount of the business declines, or if salaries and wages decrease, according to the S.B.A. website.

The S.B.A.’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program offers an advance of up to $10,000 to provide economic relief. Applications are limited to provide loans to U.S. agricultural businesses with 500 or fewer employees. The interest rate is 3.75 percent. Loans can have repayments of up to 30 years.

The agency is also providing small businesses that have a relationship with an S.B.A. Express Lender to access a bridge loan of up to $25,000.

Apply online at the S.B.A.’s website or call the agency at 800-659-2955. The site has a directory to find its local offices.

State and Local Governments

They also have small-business assistance programs of their own. The New York City Department of Small Business Services, for example, can help businesses apply for loans and other financial products. There are free small-group and one-on-one consultations to help businesses evaluate and apply for financing and access to city-sponsored special loans and grants.

In San Francisco, Mayor London N. Breed and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development recently announced the opening of the application process for $6.5 million in funds to support small businesses impacted by Covid-19. This includes $1.5 million for San Francisco’s Small Business Resiliency Fund grant program to provide at least 190 businesses up to $10,000 in aid. Another $5 million is earmarked for the Hardship Emergency Loan Program (SF HELP) in the form of up to $50,000 in zero-percent interest loans to around 100 small businesses.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf recently announced a $225 million statewide grant program to support small businesses that were impacted by Covid-19 and business closure orders.

Check with your mayor’s or governor’s office for resources and updates.

Companies, Crowdfunding, and Foundations

Governments are not the only ones helping out. Foundations, websites, and other entrepreneurs have jumped in. Here are a few:

Local Chambers of Commerce are also supporting their small-business owners. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has a state-by-state guide that outlines the different loans, grants, and funds that state and local governments — as well as private organizations — are offering.

Hello Alice, a platform that helps entrepreneurs connect with other business owners, government resources, potential funders, and mentors, is offering $10,000 grants to small businesses, supplied by Silicon Valley Bank, the eBay Foundation, UBS, and other partners. The first rounds are complete, but the group will provide more rounds of funding through July 16.

The Red Backpack Fund, which is backed by Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx, is donating $5,000 grants to 1,000 female entrepreneurs. The fund is accepting applications in cycles. The most recent started June 1; future cycles will begin on July 6 and Aug. 3.

The LISC Small Business Relief Grants program offers up to $10,000 to small businesses affected by Covid-19, especially entrepreneurs of color, women-owned businesses, and other enterprises that don’t have access to flexible, affordable capital. The program is funded by Verizon, Sam’s Club and others. Its next application round is scheduled to open on June 11.

GoFundMe, the fund-raising platform, has started the Small Business Relief Initiative, partnering with Yelp, Intuit QuickBooks,, and GoDaddy to provide owners with grants and resources. GoFundMe, QuickBooks, and Yelp have each donated $500,000 to the Small Business Relief Fund, and it is open for anyone to make a donation. There will also be $500 matching grants to qualifying businesses that raise at least $500 on GoFundMe.

IFundWomen, a crowdfunding platform, is giving microgrants to women-run businesses, issued on a rolling basis. “Start a campaign” to be considered for a Covid-19 relief grant.

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