It’s not business as usual for the Longwood Small Business Development Center nor the small businesses and localities they serve across southern Virginia.
“We are receiving four times as many calls and emails than normal. Many business owners—and even banks—are confused and frustrated by changing rules, requirements and applications processes,” said Sheri McGuire, the Executive Director of Longwood SBDC.
Longwood SBDC may not always have every answer, but what they do have is 30 years of relationships with state and national resources via SBDC, SBA and others to track the answer down. “Our consultants are consistently looped into conversations with leaders in their communities, often very early on as part of their planning processes” said McGuire.
Although many state and national organizations are already offering guidance via email, blogs, fliers and webinars, the SBDC’s goal is to give attention to each client’s specific needs. “We’re able to work with our clients one-on-one, taking the time to get to know their business details, offer moral support and give the best, individual advice we can,” McGuire stated.
She also noted, “We’ve adapted our consulting process to be virtual yet real-time, either by phone or video conferencing.” A new training model will also give businesses an opportunity to work together virtually in a workshop format. Content is changing based on client needs.
To date, Longwood SBDC has received over 120 requests for information regarding COVID-19 from businesses across their service area, from Martinsville to Petersburg.
“We are honored that our clients are coming to us for guidance during this time,” said McGuire,
“And we are here to help you move forward in choosing which of the many options for relief to take advantage of during this crisis.”
As of April 12, there are three main avenues of emergency funding available through the SBA:
Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance of up to $10,000. This advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Funds may be made available within days of a successful application. This loan advance will not have to be repaid.
The Payroll Protection Program (PPP) is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. It will be fully forgiven if the funds are used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities (due to likely high subscription, at least 75% of the forgiven amount must have been used for payroll). Loan payments will also be deferred for six months. No collateral or personal guarantees are required. Neither the government nor lenders will charge small businesses any fees.
Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) designed to overcome temporary loss of revenue. These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, for payroll and accounts payable, and for other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is very low — 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for nonprofits.
It is important to note that the SBA has adopted new shortened and streamlined applications for these loans. “The applications for emergency funding for COVID-19 inflicted hardship doesn’t require a lot of financial data up front,” she said. “Although SBA and/or your banker will likely ask for additional information later.”
McGuire and her team of consultants are encouraging businesses to gather and keep monthly records of their sales history, business expenses and payroll — all items they can find on a standard profit and loss report and their payroll tax form.
SBDC will continue to work creatively to alleviate the lasting impact of the COVID-19 crisis with new programs and initiatives. “We’re figuring this out together,” McGuire concluded. “We want our small businesses to know that they’re not alone — SBDC is here to help.”
Longwood SBDC is also compiling a list of trusted resources on their website and sharing via their email newsletter. For assistance and for notices regarding training and resources call 434-395-2086 or visit www.longwood-sbdc.com/covid19.
As a small business resource for more than 30 years, the Longwood SBDC core mission is to provide education, consulting, and economic research to support potential and existing small business owners throughout Southern Virginia. Longwood SBDC works with local sponsors to provide consulting services free of charge; for more information visit www.sbdc-longwood.com
Sheri McGuire, Longwood SBDC Executive Director