Forget the Feds! Take advantage of Regional Support for Your Business
If your business is looking for financing, especially during these times, there are various places you can turn. While many small business owners applied for Federal grants and loans, in the form of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the EIDL, some of these financing opportunities have come and gone. But have you considered regional support for your business?
Today, many localities across the country have all sorts of support mechanisms and are ready to help small business owners looking for COVID-19 relief. All you need to do is know where to look to take advantage of them.
Here’s where you can start looking.
Small Business Administration Regional Offices
The SBA doesn’t just operate out of Washington, D.C., all across the country, you’ll find SBA District and Regional Offices set up to help local small businesses in that area.
Within these local offices, the SBA offers programs such as SCORE for free and low cost mentoring and counseling, Women’s and Veteran’s Business Centers to help small business owners create business plans, networking, and marketing help.
This summer, the SBA also introduced the Community Advantage Recovery Loan (CARL) Program, which provides funding for small business owners in underserved markets.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Virtually every community around the country has a branch of the Chamber of Commerce (CoC). It can be an excellent source for small business owners to network and get in touch with local funding programs.
Many local Chambers of Commerce are also offering free help and guidance during this time. Search your state or local CoC website. There, you might find a list of local member brands providing grants, training and other free services to small business owners in the region.
State, County and City Government
Many states and county governments are also offering small business loans and grants for COVID-19 relief. To find these, search for your local city, county and state’s economic development offices and small business programs, which tend to administer these programs.
Statewide programs vary in size and scale. However, many offer smaller grants and funding to businesses serving in front line work or operating culturally essential institution. These new options are in addition to more traditional options. Many of these loans focus on keeping struggling small businesses afloat, offering funding to keep employees on the payroll to prevent staff reductions and cover the costs of sick workers.
Rents are also a continuing concern for small business owners. So, check your state, local, and city governments to see if they have enacted rent moratoriums or offer rent assistance.
Several state and county governments are also facilitating personal protective equipment (PPE) to small business owners for employees at no additional cost.
Business Improvement District Programs
Business Improvement Districts (BID) are geographical areas that are overseen by a non-profit organization that helps maintain, improve and promote the area.
An essential part of the growth and improvement of any BID is through its small local businesses. Many BIDs have economic development programs that offer loan and grant programs to qualifying small business owners, especially those who might be underserved in the community, such as women and people of color.
Private Local Groups and Entrepreneurs
Don’t forget to look to local groups and entrepreneurs as well. Many of these groups and individuals offer grants, loans and even microloans to qualifying local business owners in the area.
There are already thousands of groups and non-profit organizations that work regionally providing small business and SBA loans during so-called “normal” times. They are working to continue their efforts during COVID-19 by expanding current loan options and offering new loans and grants.
You Have Options
Even though your business might be struggling under the weight of everything happening in the world right now, know that there are funding options out there for you.
Once you’ve gone through your opportunities at the Federal level, look look a little closer to home and consider taking advantage of regional support for your business. More often than not, you’ll find people and other businesses who want to help you get through this tough time.