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COVID-19 FINANCIAL HELP FOR CONTRACTORS

These are trying times indeed. With the pandemic caused by COVID-19 still accelerating and thousands of people dying each day, it makes one pause and think. As a small business owner not only do you need to be concerned about your health and the health of your loved ones you also have the additional burden of making sure your business remains healthy. This terrible disease will pass. At this time, it is important to stay positive and look to the future. While the most important thing is you and your family’s health, some time needs to be spent on strategic planning of how to manage your business during this crisis. Farmer Brown is here to help. You can rest assured knowing that we are still open and working to protect the needs of your business. Towards that end, we are preparing this guide on COVID-19 financial help for contractors to give you some possible direction on what steps you can take to protect your business during this unprecedented crisis. As I am sure you are aware, on March 27, 2020 the President signed the largest appropriations bill in the history of the United States, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This bill was an attempt to mitigate the financial disaster facing millions of Americans and American businesses. There are provisions in the bill to help small businesses, however you need to know how to apply to receive this aid. The aid will come in many different forms and types. Some may be outright grants and others may be low-interest loans.

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GOVERNMENT RESOURCES: COVID-19 CONTRACTOR’S FINANCIAL HELP

ESSENTIAL BUSINESS EXCEPTIONS

Essential businesses are exempt from closure during this crisis. Businesses that are considered “essential” are determined at the state and local level, but most states and localities are turning to the essential critical infrastructure guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for guidance. Construction trades are almost universally considered essential businesses, however, in some cases construction work is considered non-essential. To find out if your business is an essential business in your area here are some helpful links:

COVID-19 CONTRACTOR’S FINANCIAL AID AS OUTLINED IN THE CARES ACT

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is providing additional guidance for small businesses that may be impacted by COVID-19. SBA continues to assist small businesses with accessing federal resources, such as working capital loans and counseling, through the SBA’s Local Assistance Directory. Under the CARES Act, the SBA loan programs have been expanded in eligibility and forgivable loan availability. The new programs, as outlined below, are designed to help small business owners and their employees to stay afloat during this unprecedented time by providing financial support for expenses that are unable to be met due to a loss of revenue such as payroll, benefits, rent, and utilities. Many government agencies have posted resource guides to the finding state and federal funding under the new provisions proposed by the CARES Act. Additional federal resources are posted by the America’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC); local assistance can be found using the Find Your SBDC tool. The U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship published The Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act for a complete guide from the federal government on these new small business provisions. The SBA has also launched an online resource page, Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to COVID-19. We have researched these sites and condensed the information for you below.

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

In additional to small businesses, if you are self-employed or work as an independent contractor you may qualify for the Paycheck Protection Program. This program offers specific loans for small businesses to secure job retention and ensure the ongoing employment of your workers; these loans may be used for the following expenses:

  • Payroll
  • Healthcare benefits
  • Employee compensation
  • Mortgage interests
  • Rent and utilities
  • Interest on debt acquired prior to the loan

The SBA incentivizes this by forgiving up to 100% of the loan if all employees are kept on payroll for 8 weeks and with proven appropriate use of funds. Businesses with fewer than 500 employees are eligible to apply, including self-employed individuals, and independent contractors. The Paycheck Protection Program is expected to officially launch as early as this Friday, April 3, 2020. PPP loans are available until June 30, 2020 and will be made available from SBA-approved lenders as well as additional lenders approved by the Department of Treasury. Contact your local Small Business Development Center to be connected to lenders, or visit the SBA’s List of 100 Most Active 7(a) Lenders.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL)

If your business is suffering significant economic damage as a result of COVID-19, SBA is reviewing applications for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration (EIDL). Specific details regarding which small businesses may qualify, interest rates, principal and interest deferment, and how to apply can be found here. As of March 27, 2020, under the CARES Act, small business owners in all U.S. states and territories are eligible to apply for this loan.  Additionally, an Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance has been made available in the CARES Act. This loan advance is specifically for businesses currently experiencing a loss of revenue as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The loan advance will be distributed within three days of application approval. The SBA is offering additional expedited loan services through the Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program. This pilot program authorizes SBA Lenders to grant SBA-guaranteed loans in emergency situations while business owners apply and wait for the long term financing.  The application for the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Loan Advance is offered directly from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Applications can be completed and submitted here. You must apply for the EIDL loan prior to requesting the advance.

Small Business Debt Relief

Within the CARES Act, the Small Business Debt Relief Program aids small businesses suffering financial losses due to COVID-19 by covering existing non-disaster SBA loans (for example, 7(a), 504, and microloans) for a period of 6 months. Additionally, the program is available to small businesses upon successful application and distribution of new 7(a), 504, or microloans within six months of the passage of the CARES Act. To determine your eligibility for a 7(a), 504, or microloan visit the SBA’s website. PPP loans are not eligible for debt relief as they are subjected to their respective forgiveness program.

If you need assistance finding adequate insurance coverage in order to apply for a SBA, PPP, or EIDL loan contact one of our agents.

Funding by the State and Local Municipalities

When faced with a business need, please use the SBA’s Local Assistance Directory to locate the SBA District office nearest you. The Local Assistance Directory offers additional help to connect small businesses with potential lenders, guidance in finding which low-interest loans your business may qualify for. You can call to schedule a virtual counseling session as most of the physical offices have closed for precautionary measures. Local resources for small businesses and official COVID-19 responses for each state can be found by following the links below.

COVID-19 CONTRACTOR’S FINANCIAL HELP

Every small business will suffer to a certain extent due to the pandemic. Your company in the construction industry may be impacted mildly or severely; we are here for all COVID-19 contractor’s financial help questions. If your business is considered essential by your state, you may still benefit from these loan opportunities. If you are permitted to continue working on jobsites, or are working from home planning future projects, your income may still be impacted by shortened hours, laying off employees, and project cancellations. Business interruption due to COVID-19 makes your business eligible for PPP and EIDL programs. If your business continues to operate during this time, consider the following:

  • Ensure the safety of your employees and your clients. This includes following all health guidelines as outlined by the CDC as well as increased sanitation of tools and materials.
  • Consider applying for PPP loans to ensure the economic stability and overall wellbeing of you, any of your workers, and your business if an illness or interruption were to occur.
  • Expect delays and plan accordingly. If ordering new materials or tools is necessary in the coming weeks or months, plan ahead. Various industries around the world are experiencing intense material shortages due to slowed production and limited distribution.
  • If you are considering any or all of the loan programs suggested above, or in our State by State and Private Loans guides, ensure you have the proper certifications, paperwork, and insurance coverage to be eligible.
  • In the construction industry, we face risk head on every day. However, these are unprecedented times we are experiencing. Stay safe, keep your employees safe, and make sure you have the correct coverage in the event of an emergency.

Almost every small business is suffering severe financial consequences due to the coronavirus pandemic. Although at the moment there is no firm end date in sight, we are hopeful the small businesses in the construction industry can survive this crisis with the financial resources becoming available by the government. In order to be approved for any loan, lenders must deem the applicant as a responsible business owner; this is typically hard to prove as a small business owner or independent contractor. Increase your accountability and likelihood to receive a loan by showing lenders you care about your business with adequate insurance. Contractors typically experience successful loan applications with proof of general liability insurance at the minimum. If you need assistance finding adequate insurance coverage in order to apply for a SBA, PPP, or EIDL loan contact one of our agents or complete the form below for a fast, free quote.

OTHER RESOURCES FOR COVID-19 AND CONTRACTOR’S FINANCIAL HELP

 

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