COVID Small Business Relief: Loans and Grants
Depending on the size of your small business, you may be qualified for certain loans and grants on both the federal and state level.
What is considered a small business?
Small businesses are defined based on what type of industry they belong to. To determine if your business is considered to be a small business by the Small Business Administration, visit the SBA Size Standards webpage.
COVID Federal Small Business Help
The Small Business Administration (SBA) is providing disaster loan assistance in all states. These low-interest loans are targeted toward small businesses and nonprofits that have experienced severe economic injury due to the coronavirus.
As part of the Coronavirus Aid Package (CARES Act), small businesses can also apply for forgivable loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that can be used to pay employees and fund other day-to-day business operations. To learn more, visit our guide to the CARES Act or read about the Payback Protection Program in particular.
COVID State Small Business Help
The state of Arkansas has established the Quick Action Loan Program, allocating a total of $7 million to assist eligible companies with loans up to $250,000. Of these allocated funds, $4 million from the Governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund will be put towards small to medium-sized companies that deal in essential goods and services; the remaining $3 million from the Attorney General’s Consumer Education and Enforcement Fund will directly support small businesses. For more information, read the Quick Action Loan Program Summary.
The state will also make up to $12 million available through the Community Development Block Grant to provide grants to local governments. These local governments will then provide loans to companies affected by coronavirus and grants to clinics, hospitals, and nonprofits providing care services. To request additional information or to apply for assistance, you can email COVID19.firstname.lastname@example.org or call (501) 682-1121. For more details and updates, visit the Arkansas COVID-19 Resource page.
The Women's Foundation of Arkansas has set up a fund for women-owned small businesses affected by the coronavirus. The initiative will provide grants of $5,000 to up to 20 women-owned businesses. Applications for the first round of funding closed Monday, April 13. Visit this page again for more updates on the next round of applications. To learn more or apply, visit their FAQ.
COVID Small Business Relief: Private Sources
Some private companies and organizations have established grants for small business relief. Facebook is one such company. The Facebook small business grant was created to help small business owners amid disruptions that are being caused by the coronavirus.
Certain credit card companies and banks, like Bank of America, are also offering economic relief for their small business members.
For a larger list, visit our guide to private grants for small business relief.
The federal government has extended the payment deadline for all first-quarter tax payments from April 15th, 2020 to July 15th, 2020. Small businesses must file IRS Form 7004 to extend their tax payments, while individuals must file IRS Form 4868.
State Tax Relief
Though the deadline for individual tax filing has been moved to July 15, 2020, the deadline for corporate taxes is still set for April 15, 2020.
Changes to Federal Paid Leave
As of March 18th, 2020, the federal government is providing certain workers paid sick leave in the event that they are ill, quarantined, or seeking medical care.
This relief act applies to employees at small, midsize, and nonprofit companies so long as the employee has been employed for more than 30 days. For more information, you can read the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
The Department of Labor also recommends that small business employers check if their employee’s sick leave is covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). If an employee or their family is incapacitated due to the coronavirus (or any pandemic illness), their employer is required to provide job-protected, unpaid leave.
So long as employers are covered, they are required to abide by federal FMLA and state FMLA laws. For more information on the FMLA, check out the Department of Labor’s website.
In the event that your small business undergoes financial difficulties during the coronavirus spread, consider implementing these guidelines for the good of your business and its employees:
- Consider putting employees on temporary leave instead of terminating them
- Communicate with customers regarding business closures, reduction of hours, or maintenance changes
- Diversify your suppliers or stock inventory with an adequate amount of supplies to last an extended period of time
- Contact your insurance agent to review any business interruption policies that your business may have in place
- Prepare a plan with your employees regarding present and future business actions regarding the virus
- Review your emergency business continuity plan. If you don’t have one, take a look at New York’s Emergency Planning Process Sheet.
- Determine whether your business is considered essential or nonessential. Visit our guide to essential businesses for more information.
For more business solutions, visit the SBA website.
The Coronavirus Aid Package (CARES Act) is providing extended unemployment benefits to workers who are ineligible for regular unemployment programs but are out of work solely because of the coronavirus pandemic. Unemployment compensation has also been extended by 13 weeks.
The governor has ordered unemployment benefits to be expedited, waiving the one-week waiting period. Requirements for seeking further employment have also been temporarily waived for 30 days as of March 17, 2020, for individuals employed by businesses that are closed temporarily with plans to reopen. For instructions on making a claim, check the Unemployment Benefits guide.
On April 16, 2020, the state of Arkansas launched a new website called ARunemployment.com to provide up-to-date information about unemployment benefits.
NOTE: Workers cannot file for unemployment if they are receiving any kind of direct financial help from your business.
Small business employers should also establish strategies with their employees and customers to avoid spreading the virus:
- Encourage sick employees and customers to stay home
- Separate sick employees from the rest of the employees and encourage them to go home
- Practice good self-hygiene
- Avoid travel
- Clean all work environments routinely and thoroughly
For periodic state updates, visit or subscribe to Arkansas’ COVID-19 Information page.
The best way to prevent the spread of the virus in your business is to create a “work from home” policy. If your business is able to provide remote work opportunities for its employees, consider the following strategies:
- Invest in new technologies and software
- Provide remote training for employees
- Establish a remote communication system
- Enforce a daily routine
- Trust in your employees’ ability to stay on track