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 Paycheck Protection Program in particular.
COVID State Small Business Help
As of April 13th, 2020, the State of South Carolina has no state-regulated loans or grants that are extended to small businesses affected by the coronavirus.
For business resource updates related to the coronavirus, visit the South Carolina Department of Commerce website. You can also visit South Carolina’s Business One Stop website for a larger pool of generic business resources.
COVID Local Small Business Help
The City of Columbia has established the Small Business Stabilization Forgivable (SBSF) Loan Program to assist local small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
- Businesses with 100 or less employees at the time of loan submission;
- Priority will be given to our most vulnerable businesses with five (5) or less employees and businesses with up to 50 employees;
- Businesses with a City of Columbia business license;
- Businesses with a physical establishment within the corporate limits of the City of Columbia;
- Businesses with documented or exhibited losses due to COVID-19; and
- Applicants must agree to provide a summary and verification report after SBSF loan funds have been exhausted, the report must indicate how the loan funds were spent and include supporting documentation (i.e. receipts, payroll records, etc…). Failure to submit these reports will result in borrower having to pay the loan back in full and forgiveness will be revoked.
For additional details or to apply, visit the City of Columbia's SBSF information page.
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.
Private Relief in South Carolina
The Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina has created a relief fund for 501(c)(3) nonprofits in nine South Carolina counties that support vulnerable populations. To see if your nonprofit business qualifies, visit the Coastal Community Foundation's website.
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
The South Carolina Department of Revenue has postponed tax payments and returns due on or after April 1st, 2020, to June 1st, 2020. This tax relief is automatically applied to all individual and business tax filers. Interest and penalty fees are also waived during this time period.
For more information, call the South Carolina Department of Revenue at 1-844-898-8542.
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 South Carolina governor issued an executive order suspending employer unemployment insurance payments until June 1st, 2020. The executive order also waives the one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits, allowing applicable workers to collect benefits in the first week.
Workers who are laid off or are facing reduced hours due to the coronavirus pandemic may be eligible for 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 the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control website.
NOTE: Governor Henry McMaster has implemented a stay home order, including the closure of nonessential businesses beginning April 8, 2020. To find out if your business is considered essential, please consult this list.
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