Managing Your Business During the COVID-19 Outbreak
Updated June 1 at 2:00 p.m. ET
At the Blount Partnership, we’re working to keep people safe and informed about the recent outbreak of COVID-19. We know that as members of the community, businesses like yours are experiencing unexpected challenges, and we’re committed to providing as much support as possible. We are sending out a Daily Resources e-mail with business updates on COVID-19; Click here to sign-up if you are not receiving those e-mails. Below are some resources gathered to help educate employers on the coronavirus:
CDC RELEASES EMPLOYER INFORMATION FOR OFFICE BUILDINGS
(June 1) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released recommendations for reopening office buildings that have been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
If businesses follow the CDC’s guidelines, office workers will return to a drastically different environment than the one they left behind weeks ago.
SUPPORT TENNESSEE RECOVERY AND SAFE HARBOR ACT
(May 29) legislation will soon be officially filed to provide crucial liability protections for Tennessee businesses. We are urging Tennessee's business community to contact state lawmakers to support reasonable liability protections which will likely be heard in the House Civil Justice Subcommittee and the Senate Judiciary Committee next week. Please call or email your senator and representative to let them know you support responsible safe harbors for Tennessee businesses.
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Contact the Senate Judiciary Committee
Contact the House Judiciary Committee
FEDERAL RESOURCES FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
(May 21) The American Small Business Development Center has launched a website that has federal resources and information to help small businesses recover from COVID-19 impacts. You can view relevant federal agency resources, access the latest news, and search for a Small Business Advisor near you. LEARN MORE
UPDATED GUIDANCE FOR RESTAURANTS, RETAIL AND LARGE ATTRACTIONS
(May 20) the Economic Recovery Group issued updated guidelines today for restaurants and retail, along with new guidelines that enable attractions and larger venues to reopen with social distancing and capacity restrictions on or after May 22.
The updated guidelines enable restaurants and retail to increase capacity as long as social distancing protocols remain in place. Restaurants should continue to space tables 6 feet apart, or install physical barriers where adequate separation isn’t possible. Bars remain closed unless used for seated, in-restaurant dining where there is 6 feet of separation between customer groups. Live music is permissible with appropriate precautions, which include maintaining at least 15 feet of separation between performers and audience in order to reduce potential exposure.
Large, non-contact attractions and venues including concert and performance venues, amusement and water parks, auditoriums, theaters and dinner theaters, zoos, large museums and more can also reopen safely under new Tennessee Pledge guidelines.
PPP FORGIVENESS FORM AND INSTRUCTIONS
(May 18) the Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, released the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness Application and detailed instructions for the application.
The form and instructions inform borrowers how to apply for forgiveness of their PPP loans, consistent with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). SBA will also soon issue regulations and guidance to further assist borrowers as they complete their applications, and to provide lenders with guidance on their responsibilities.
The form and instructions include several measures to reduce compliance burdens and simplify the process for borrowers, including:
- Options for borrowers to calculate payroll costs using an “alternative payroll covered period” that aligns with borrowers’ regular payroll cycles
- Flexibility to include eligible payroll and non-payroll expenses paid or incurred during the eight-week period after receiving their PPP loan
- Step-by-step instructions on how to perform the calculations required by the CARES Act to confirm eligibility for loan forgiveness
- Borrower-friendly implementation of statutory exemptions from loan forgiveness reduction based on rehiring by June 30
- Addition of a new exemption from the loan forgiveness reduction for borrowers who have made a good-faith, written offer to rehire workers that was declined
U.S. CHAMBER TOOLS TO GUIDE EMPLOYERS IN REOPENING
(May 14) Filling a huge gap, the U.S. Chamber launches a new “digital resources center with tools and guidance to help employers reopen their businesses safely.
OSHA ISSUES INDUSTRY-SPECIFIC COVID-19 GUIDANCE FOR CONSTRUCTION, MANUFACTURING, RESTAURANT AND RETAIL
(May 8) The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has not to date set forth mandatory coronavirus-specific rules for workplaces operating or reopening during the pandemic. However, OSHA has recently issued guidance tailored to the construction, manufacturing, restaurant (takeout/pickup), and retail industries – as part of what the agency indicated will be a series of industry-specific alerts designed to keep workplaces safe.
COVID-19 HEALTH INSURANCE RESOURCES
(May 8) The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have published the following updated COVID-19 health insurance resources for businesses:
GOV. LEE AND TENNESSEE PLEDGE GUIDELINES
(May 6) Gov. Bill Lee continues to issue the first steps for the “Tennessee Pledge,” the state’s roll out of guidance and best practices for Tennessee businesses in 89 of the state’s 95 counties to keep employees and customers safe during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
General Business Guidelines
Exercise Facilities Guidelines
Close Contact Business Guidelines
Houses of Worship Guidelines
Lodging and Accommodations Guidelines (updated May 6)
Manufacturing Guidelines (updated May 6)
Construction Worksite Guidelines (updated May 6)
Office Building Guidelines (updated May 6)
Recreation Guidelines (updated May 6)
UPDATED PPP INFORMATION
(May 13) SBA requires all #PaycheckProtectionProgram borrowers to certify that the PPP loan is necessary to support ongoing operations. SBA is extending the safe harbor deadline for borrowers who applied before April 24 to return PPP funds. The new deadline is May 14, 2020.
Please review the updated PaycheckProtectionProgram FAQ for borrowers and lenders.
Gov. Lee Issues Guidelines for Restaurants, Retail Stores to Reopen Early
(April 24) Today, Gov. Bill Lee issued the first steps from the “Tennessee Pledge,” the state’s rollout of guidance and best practices for Tennessee businesses in 89 of the state’s 95 counties to keep employees and customers safe during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The first industries to receive guidance through the plan include the restaurant and retail industries. Read more.
OSHA GUIDANCE ON PREPARING WORKPLACES FOR COVID-19
(April 22) Whether you are a workplace that has remained open or one that is preparing to re-open, the focus on sanitation has taken on a new meaning. OSHA has released a set of guidelines that will assist you with your efforts. LEARN MORE
TSBDC COMPREHENSIVE RESOURCES
(April 20) Now is the time to assess the impact COVID-19 is having on your business. Tennessee’s small business advisers are here to help you navigate this unprecedented event. As a collective, we have a long history of helping businesses prepare for and recover from disasters. As Tennessee comes to grips with the Coronavirus, we are committed to providing businesses with guidance to help them manage during this crisis.
Please explore here to find information about your business and COVID-19.
CARES ACT FUNDING GUIDE FOR INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS
(April 17) The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a new guide to help independent contractors and self-employed individuals secure funding under the CARES Act.
The guide, which was prepared after the Small Business Administration provided new guidance, is intended to assist millions of independent contractors including accountants, construction workers, musicians, real-estate agents, freelance writers, and gig workers. The guide provides step-by-step assistance to help individuals understand eligibility requirements, borrowing limits, and appropriate use of funds under the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans. It also outlines the steps required to apply for Unemployment Compensation under a special program created by the CARES Act.
The guide for independent contractors and self-employed individuals is available at uschamber.com/ICguide.
SAVE SMALL BUSINESS INITIATIVE PRESENTED BY U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
(April 15) Small business owners across America are fighting to keep their workers employed and their dreams alive. Amid the pandemic and the economic fallout, too many already have shuttered, and millions more are on the brink of permanent closure.
We are committed to mobilizing and maximizing the impact of the nation's response. Join us in supporting small businesses, their workers, and the families and communities that depend on them.
HEALTH CARE OPTIONS
(April 8) If you lost or expect to lose your health insurance, you may be eligible to apply for health insurance through a Special Enrollment Period, and depending on your income, you may qualify for a subsidy to reduce the cost of your health insurance premium.
Knowing the basics of unemployment benefits before you apply will save time and allow you to concentrate on looking for a great new job.
(April 7) The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provides 39 weeks of eligibility for individuals who have traditionally been ineligible for Ul benefits. (Self-employed, gig workers, independent contractors)
This Pandemic Unemployment Compensation included an additional $600 per week, on top of regular benefits, to all Ul recipients; and provides an additional 13 weeks of UI benefits.
To apply for PUA, claimants will need to file an application on jobs4TN.gov or call (844) 224-5818. Filing online is the fastest, most efficient way to receive your benefits. Due to high call volume, you will experience extended wait times when applying by phone.
Who is eligible for PUA? Individuals are eligible for PUA if they do not qualify for regular Ul benefits (including self-employed workers and independent contractors) and cannot work because they:
- Are diagnosed COVID-19 or have COVID-19 symptoms and are seeking diagnosis;
- Have a member of the household who is diagnosed with COVID-19;
- Are providing care for a family or household member diagnosed with COVID-19;
- Are the primary caregiver for a child whose school or care facility closed, due to COVID-19;
- Are unable to reach their place of employment due to an imposed quarantine, or because advised by medical provider to self-quarantine, due to COVID-19;
- Were scheduled to start new employment and cannot reach the workplace as direct result of COVID-19;
- Became the major breadwinner because the head of household died from COVID-19;
- Quit their job as a direct result of COVID-19;
- Had their place of employment closed as a direct result of COVID-19; or
- Meet any additional criteria specified by U.S. Secretary of Labor.
Individuals are not eligible for PUA if they can telework or are receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits (regardless of meeting a category listed above).
FAMILIES FIRST CORONA VIRUS RESPONSE ACT
(April 1) The U.S. Department of Labor announced new action regarding how American workers and employers will benefit from the protections and relief offered by the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, both part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
COVID-19 BUSINESS TOPICS
The Blount Partnership asked its members who specialize in workplace law to give some simple input into the impact of COVID-19 workplace laws. Here's what they submitted.
- Inc.'s Essential Business Survival Guide for the COVID-19 Crisis
- CARES Act: Paycheck Protection Program
- 10 FAQs for Business Clients During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- 10 Things You Need to Know About IRS Response to COVID-19 Pandemic
- How the Coronavirus Rescue Bill Boosts Unemployment Benefits
- According to EEOC guidance, what is helpful? What must I do under OSHA guidelines in response to COVID-19?
- What is the new expansion of family and medical leave? What is the new requirement regarding paid sick leave? How do employer's pay for this?
- Answering Your Questions on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and Required Posting
- CARES Act Expanson: What You Need to Know When Applying for SBA Loans due to COVID-19
- COVID-19 Unemployment Insurance Update
- Smokies Live: A daily blog about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Paycheck Protection Program prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses. Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards.
(April 17) PPP Loan Forgiveness Information
(April 17) Ten Things to Know about PPP Forgiveness
- For a top-line overview of the program CLICK HERE
- If you’re a lender, more information can be found HERE
- If you’re a borrower, more information can be found HERE
- Borrower Application Form (Updated 4/2/20)
- Lender Application Form
- New Lender Application Form (Federally Insured Depository Institutions, Federally Insured Credit Unions, Farm Credit System Institutions)
- Interim Final Rule
- Interim Final Rule on Affiliation
- Applicable Affiliation Rules
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Find an eligible lender
- Frequently Asked Questions
- How to access stimulus funding for your small business
- Application and more information
- Borrower Application (PDF)
- Borrower Fact Sheet (PDF)
Loan Terms & Conditions
- Eligible businesses: All small businesses, including non-profits, Veterans organizations, Tribal concerns, sole proprietorships, self-employed individuals, and independent contractors, with 500 or fewer employees, or no greater than the number of employees set by the SBA as the size standard for certain industries
- Maximum loan amount up to $10 million
- Loan forgiveness if proceeds used for payroll costs and other designated business operating expenses in the 8 weeks following the date of loan origination (due to likely high subscription, it is anticipated that not more than 25% of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs)
- All loans under this program will have the following identical features:
- Interest rate of 0.5%
- Maturity of 2 years
- First payment deferred for six months
- 100% guarantee by SBA
- No collateral
- No personal guarantees
- No borrower or lender fees payable to SBA
SBA DISASTER LOANS
Disaster loan assistance through the U.S. Small Business Administration is available to small businesses and nonprofit organizations that have suffered economic injury as a result of COVID-19.
Small businesses and nonprofit organizations can apply for loans up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses. Applicants may apply online here.
Applicants may also call SBA's Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Additional COVID-19 guidance from the SBA can be found here.
Congress passed and President Trump signed a $2 trillion stimulus bill with major provisions for small business relief. We will provide additional updates on federal small business resources as they become available.
Alternatives for companies waiting on approval for a SBA disaster loan.
Companies may apply for a SBA Express Bridge Loan which would provide expedited approval and funding for working capital up to $25,000. The company must have a current relationship with a lender with SBA Express authority to apply. For more information, please contact David.Leonard@sba.gov.
The Export-Import Bank is also providing financing solutions including a modified Working Capital Guarantee Program and Bridge Loan Financing, for more information please see their website and contact email@example.com for more information. If/when a disaster loan is approved then the proceeds could be used to pay off the bridge loan.
WEBINARS FOR SBA LOAN INQUIRIES
Beginning Monday, March 30, TNECD will host a daily webinar for SBA-loan related inquiries, Monday through Friday.
Note: Links refresh daily. Check back – log in information is available immediately before the call.
The afternoon calls from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. EDT will exclusively assist Tennessee businesses with COVID-19 disaster loans inquiries.
STATE UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS
For workers who are out of a job, the fastest and most efficient way to file an unemployment claim is to go to www.Jobs4TN.gov. Due to the high volume of claims because of the COVID-19 emergency, filing by another method may delay the processing of your claim.
How to file an unemployment claim
More information for workers is available here.
For businesses, if your company has reduced hours or is closed due to COVID-19, you may also expedite the unemployment claim process for your employees. Additional information on employer-filed mass claims can be found here.
Please visit the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development for additional resources and updates.
The department has provided resources for mass layoff and unemployment claim information.
Guide to File for Unemployment | Instructions for Partial Claims
Mass Layoff Partial Claims Guide | UI Weekly Certification Flyer
Helpful Q&A | Unemployment Process Table (PDF)
CARES ACT AND THE WORKPLACE
(March 26) The Wage and Hour Division provides information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to COVID-19, and its effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
CISA Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce
Private Sector PPE Donations - All communications about donations should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and all communications about vendors, including manufacturers interested in making component parts should be send to email@example.com.
Best Practices for Manufacturers: COVID-19
- Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employee Paid Leave Rights
- Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employer Paid Leave Requirements
Questions and Answers
- Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Questions and Answers
- COVID-19 and the Fair Labor Standards Act: Questions and Answers
- COVID-19 and the Family and Medical Leave Act: Questions and Answers
- Employee Rights: Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave under The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
- Federal Employee Rights: Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave under The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
- Families First Coronavirus Response Act Notice – Frequently Asked Questions
TENNESSEE TALENT EXCHANGE
Alongside unemployment benefits, the State is also spearheading a new initiative, the Tennessee Talent Exchange, which will quickly match Tennesseans who are out of work because of COVID-19 with businesses that are currently experiencing a surge in job openings.
The Tennessee Talent Exchange is designed to connect jobs seekers to hiring companies in the grocery, retail and logistics industry.
EMERGENCY CASH ASSISTANCE
The Department of Human Services is also making essential financial resources available to certain families that have been significantly impacted by COVID-19.
PRIVATE SECTOR PPE DONATIONS
The Blount Partnership is supporting Governor Lee's call for Tennessee manufacturers, distributors and businesses to help with critical health care supply needs.
If you are a business that has personal protective equipment to donate, you can email: Covid.firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations are being accepted at armories throughout Tennessee. A map of locations can be found on TEMA's website.
For vendors, including manufacturers interested in making component parts, please contact: Covid.email@example.com
- To sell medical supplies or equipment to the federal government, please email specifics to firstname.lastname@example.org
- If you have medical supplies or equipment to donate, please provide the details to FEMA at https://www.fema.gov/covid19offers
- If you are a private company that wants to produce a product related to the COVID response – email email@example.com
- If you are a hospital and other companies in need of medical supplies, please contact the state Department of Public Health and/or Emergency Management.
- For non-medical supplies, services or equipment, if you are interested in doing business with FEMA, visit their Industry Liaison Program at https://www.fema.gov/industry-liaison-program
- For additional information please visit FEMA's website: https://www.fema.gov/coronavirus/ and https://www.fema.gov/coronavirus/how-to-help
BEST PRACTICES FOR EMPLOYERS
For employers that continue to operate, the Center for Disease Control has an invaluable resource of best practices to protect employees, customers and suppliers.
Broadband access is more important than ever as Tennesseans have been instructed to stay home from work and school as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are resources to help you stay connected.
Launch Tennessee has compiled various resources for Tennessee's startups and small businesses to reference during the COVID-19 outbreak.
LaunchTN is working in partnership with Tennessee's COVID-19 Unified Command to engage companies, including entrepreneurs and startups, to rapidly connect solutions, resources, and capabilities to major issues facing our state.
The Tennessee Innovation Crowdsource Platform will allow us to organize and evaluate proposals, complete due diligence, and recommend promising strategies to state procurement specialists for expedited treatment. We invite all companies to participate, regardless of whether you're able to scale at the level needed right now.
HEALTH AND EMPLOYEE WELLNESS
If you believe that you are sick with COVID-19, follow these instructions from the CDC.
(March 30) The CDC in partnership with Apple have launched a new COVID-19 website + app that will provide a screening tool for #CoronavirusSymptoms as well as latest information from trusted sources about the coronavirus outbreak. Download the app and LEARN MORE.
Information from the Tennessee Department of Health regarding COVID-19 can be found here.
COVID-19 PUBLIC INFORMATION NUMBERS:
833-556-2476 and 877-857-2945 Available 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. EDT Daily
RESTAURANTS / ALCOHOL TAKEOUT/DELIVERY FAQs
(March 23) Restaurants and Limited Service Restaurants (bars) may sell alcohol to go (takeout or delivery) under the following conditions. FAQ's AND RESOURCES: TAKEOUT/DELIVERY SALES OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES
(March 22) Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed Executive Order 17 calling for businesses across the state to utilize alternative business models beginning at midnight CDT on Monday, March 23, 2020 until midnight CDT April 6, 2020. The order also outlines ways businesses and citizens should work to protect vulnerable populations.
Executive Order 17 prohibits social gatherings of 10 or more people and also enacts the following provisions regarding restaurants, bars, and similar food and drink establishments:
Establishments are to exclusively offer drive-thru, take-out or delivery options to support families, businesses and the food supply chain during this emergency.
Establishments may sell alcohol by take-out or delivery (with the purchase of food) in closed containers to those who are age 21 and up.
SBA Disaster Loan Applications Open March 20
(March 20) Gov. Bill Lee announced that Tennessee has received a declaration for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration in response to a request submitted on Wednesday, March 18.
Small businesses and nonprofit organizations that have suffered economic injury as a result of COVID-19 can apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million per applicant to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have otherwise been met.
The Economic Injury Disaster Loans are administered and processed through the SBA. Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at sba.gov/disaster.
Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on SBA disaster assistance.
Interest rates for the loans are 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for nonprofit organizations. The loans can be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable or other bills that can’t be paid due to the disaster’s impact.
Phase Three Relief Legislation Being Completed in Congress
(March 20) -- Details of phase three of Congress's COVID-19 relief legislation are being made available and will be considered in the Senate over the weekend. Many expect the legislation will continue to be debated and passed next week. It is expected to be one of the most costly such efforts ever, reportedly topping over $1 trillion. As reported, some early details of the legislation include:
- 2020 Individual Recovery Rebates
- Waives the 10% early withdrawal penalty for withdrawals up to $100,000 from qualified retirement accounts for corona virus related purposes
- Delay of employer payroll tax – half due by December 31, 2021, half due by December 31, 2022
- Temporarily increases the amount of business interest expense businesses are allowed to deduct on returns by increasing the reduction from 30% to 50% of the taxable income for 2019 and 2020
- Technical corrections in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which will result in increased cash flow for some businesses.
- 208 billion in loans and guaranteed loans to at risk industries - commercial airlines (50 billion), air cargo carriers (8 billion), other eligible businesses (150 billion)
- Small business loans for any company with less than 500 employees. The cap of that loan is either $10 million or the average of monthly payments.
COVID-19 Business Best Practices
(March 20) Businesses are looking for ways to keep employees, customers, suppliers and their communities healthy. Expectations are that this global pandemic could last months, and employers need to develop strategies to protect employees and their ability to conduct business for a sustained period. Here is a summary of those best practices. These are not designed to be for every business but an example that could be adopted/modified: LEARN MORE
Families First Coronavirus Act
(March 19) President Trump signed the bill shortly after it cleared Congress this week. Now that the legislation has been signed into law, its provisions become effective within 15 days. Here are the key provisions of the legislation that are likely to impact employers: CLICK HERE FOR SUMMARY
Tennessee Small Business Development Center Continues to Provide Assistance
(March 19) The Tennessee Small Business Development Center continues to provide services to clients virtually, by phone, and by email.
For small business inquiries regarding SBA COVID–19 Disaster Relief loans and other related concerns, businesses may visit our website at www.TSBDC.org, select the red “Request Free Advising” tab and follow the instructions from there.
Gov. Lee Submits Request for Economic Injury Disaster Loan from SBA
(March 18) Once the declaration is made, all Tennessee small businesses and nonprofit organizations that have suffered economic injury as a result of COVID-19 will be eligible to apply for disaster loan assistance of up to $2 million per applicant.
The loans can be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable or other bills that can’t be paid due to the disaster’s impact. Interest rates for the loans are 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for nonprofit organizations.
The SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.
Additional information about Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance, along with instructions on where to apply, will be announced once the declaration has been received.
For more details and how to apply, go here.
TN Dept. of Labor & Workforce Information Regarding Layoffs & Unemployment
(March 18) The Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TNDOLWD) released a website with guidance for business's operations that are affected due to COVID-19. The department has provided resources for mass layoff and unemployment claim information.
Guide to File for Unemployment | Instructions for Partial Claims
Mass Layoff Partial Claims Guide | UI Weekly Certification Flyer
U.S. Chamber Information For Businesses & Employees
Blount County Food and Service Providers Facebook Group
(March 17) As CDC recommendations change on a seemingly daily basis, the Blount Partnership has developed a takeout restaurant listing featuring our Blount Chamber dining establishments.
We've also created a public Facebook group page. The goal is to offer another way for area restaurants and service providers to promote their menus, takeout & delivery specials and ANY other information they'd like to share with the public.
Because of the unprecedented circumstances we are all navigating, the chamber has chosen to encourage ANY business to join/post.
Please do the following:
(1) JOIN as your business page AND as an individual.
(2) SHARE with other businesses and individuals so they can join (membership is NOT required to join or post for this group!)
(3) POST your business' NEW or existing take-out/delivery services, menu specials, precautions you are taking for the safety of customers, etc.
Facebook Small Business Grants Program
(March 17) We know that your business may be experiencing disruptions resulting from the global outbreak of COVID-19. We’ve heard that a little financial support can go a long way, so we are offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits to help during this challenging time. LEARN MORE.
President & Federal Goverment Guidelines from March 16
Business Tips from Better Business Bureau
(March 16) Better Business Bureau reminds everyone to remain vigilant to avoid scams related to the virus, use necessary, common sense precautions when traveling, and find reliable sources to stay informed about what to do as the virus spreads. LEARN MORE.
Small Business Administration Disaster Assistance in Response to the Coronavirus
(March 16) The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Upon a request received from a state’s or territory’s Governor, SBA will issue under its own authority, as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by the President, an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration. LEARN MORE.
Small Business Administration Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus
- Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program
- Guidance for Businesses and Employers
- SBA Products and Resources
- Government Contracting
- Local Assistance
Here are 5 steps you can take today:
(March 16) 1. Keep yourself safe and informed.
Stay up to date by following credible, official sources like the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and your local government health department so you can respond quickly to changes that could affect you or your customers.
For individuals who are concerned about the potential need for testing based on signs and symptoms or the travel guidelines, call your primary care physician office for a phone screening, which will help determine whether you are a potential candidate for testing.
If you need further state and local resources, please refer to the list below:
Tennessee Coronavirus Public Information Line: 877-857-2945
Tennessee Department of Health: 615-741-7247
East Tennessee Regional Health Department: 865-546-9221
Blount County Health Department: 865-983-4582
2. Stay in touch with your customers.
Proactively share important information with your customers using email, your website, Facebook page, Instagram Business Profile, or however you typically connect. Remember that you can pin important posts to the top of your Facebook page for quick viewing. You might include information about the measures you’re taking to make your premises or products safe, or how you will handle customer inquiries if there are expected shipping delays.
3. Try hosting online events.
In case you need to postpone or cancel any planned events as a result of the outbreak, try hosting a webinar or organize live sessions on social channels such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn.
4. Prepare a customer service plan.
In order to be responsive and transparent with your customers during this challenging moment, prepare for incoming questions and requests. Consider drafting templated responses for your emails or set up instant-reply messages with information you expect your customers will be looking for. Connect with your customers for free in real time using Instagram Direct Messages , Messenger or setting up a WhatsApp Business profile .
5. Provide a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs).
Prepare a list of responses for questions your customers are likely to ask, and provide as much detail and reassurance as possible in your answers. Here is an example of what an FAQ could look like:
Q: Can I cancel my order (travel tickets / educational programs / gym memberships)?
A: Of course we will cancel your order / reschedule or cancel your trip / pause your membership on request. Once your order is cancelled, the spend amount from your original purchase will be refunded to your account. We look forward to doing business with you again soon.
SBA Emergency Preparedness Guide
Business Continuity Plan
CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers
Combating the Coronavirus, US Chamber of Commerce
OHSA Resources for Workers and Employers on COVID-19
Getting Workplace Ready for COVID-19 (PDF)
Small Business Resilience Toolkit (PDF)
Small Business Resilience Checklist (PDF)
Tennessee Coronavirus Public Information Line-Available 10 AM to 10 PM Central Daily 1-877-857-2945