Coronavirus Small Business Relief for Tennessee

The ongoing spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has had lasting impacts on US small businesses. Federal, state, and local governments have created relief assistance to support small business owners.

Our guide to Coronavirus Small Business Relief for Tennessee provides information on grants, loans, tax relief, and emergency assistance for all small businesses, both on a federal level and on a state level.


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.

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.

Read more about the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program to see if your small business qualifies. You can also download the SBA’s Tennessee EIDL Fact Sheet for more information.

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 27th, 2020, the State of Tennessee has no state-regulated loans or grants that are extended to small businesses affected by the coronavirus.

For state updates on small business relief, visit the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development website.

COVID Local Small Business Help

Chattanooga City Council created a COVID-19 Small Business Stabilization Fund of $2.5 million to set up grant and loan programs which include:

  • COVID-19 Mitigation Grants - $5,000 grants to small businesses.
  • COVID-19 Bridge Loans - loans up to $25,000 to help small businesses who were impacted by state and local executive orders.
  • COVID-19 HUD 108 Loans - loans greater than $25,000 to help businesses in low-income census tracts or incentivizes business owners to hire and retain employees.

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.

COVID-19 Tax Relief & Federal Paid Leave

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, both federal and state governments are actively providing tax assistance for small businesses as well as updated employee leave policies.

Tax 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

The State of Tennessee extended the franchise and excise tax filing and payment deadline to July 15th, 2020.

Business tax filing and payment deadlines are extended to June 15th, 2020.

For updates on state tax relief, visit the Tennessee Department of Revenue’s website.

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.

Running Your Business During Coronavirus Pandemic

Because of the ever-changing nature of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to set business maintenance policies for you and your employees.

Emergency Guidelines

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.

Unemployment Insurance

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.

Workers that are temporarily laid off or are facing reduced hours as a result of the coronavirus pandemic are eligible for unemployment benefits.

Employers that are reducing hours or closing because of the pandemic may expedite their unemployment claim process by either providing a mass layoff list or an employer-filed mass claim.

For more information, visit the Tennessee Department of Workforce & Development website.

NOTE: Workers cannot file for unemployment if they are receiving any kind of direct financial help from your business.

Employee Safety

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 more guidelines, visit the CDC’s website. You can create your own guidelines poster.

For periodic state updates, visit the State of Tennessee's website.

NOTE: The Governor, Bill Lee, of the State of Tennessee has issued a “stay-at-home” executive order shutting down non-essential businesses until midnight on April 30th, 2020, but can be revised or extended. To see if your business is considered essential, read the Tennessee governor’s executive order.

Remote Workforce

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

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