This article was updated on June 25, 2020.
What Is Georgia Doing To Help Businesses?
To support businesses during COVID-19, Georgia’s main aim has been to reopen the economy as soon as possible. This was most aptly seen on April 24th when Governor Kemp decided to start reopening the state. In addition to this, Georgia has developed some state-specific COVID-19 business resources.
Small Business Development Center Webinars
The University of Georgia’s Small Business Development Center put together an informative webinar series addressing each region of the state. These webinars provide resources to Georgia businesses as they weather COVID-19.
In conjunction with reviewing these webinars, Georgia’s leaders recommend that local business owners pursue the economic support provided by the federal government.
What Types of Programs Are Being Offered By The Federal Government?
The federal government rolled out the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 27th. This economic relief plan distributes $1.8 trillion to small businesses across the country using the following programs:
- Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
- Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)
- Guaranteed Loan Payment Relief
- Express Bridge Loans
Weeks later, House lawmakers voted for an additional $484 billion relief package. This helped bolster emergency funds, including $310 billion going directly into the Paycheck Protection Program.
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
The first portion of the CARES Act is the Paycheck Protection Program. Developed by the Small Business Association (SBA), this program incentivizes small businesses to keep employees on the payroll by offering them a forgivable loan of up to $10 million.
In turn, businesses must keep their workers employed for at least eight weeks and use the loan to pay for:
- Payroll (60% of the loan must go towards this expense)
- Mortgage interest
If the business fails to meet these guidelines, the loan must be repaid with a 1% interest rate. To acquire a PPP loan, you can apply through an SBA 7(a) lender of your choice, including any federally-regulated bank or credit union.
Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)
In the case of a disaster, the Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) offers small businesses up to $2 million to supplement their operating expenses. COVID-19 easily qualifies as one of these disasters.
This loan is only meant for businesses with 500 employees or less, including:
- Small businesses
- Sole proprietors
- Independent contractors
- Tribal businesses
- 501(c)(19) veteran organizations
EIDL loans have an interest rate of 3.75%, so take that into consideration. However, payments on these loans are deferrable for the first year.
To get funds sooner, you can also apply for an EIDL advance of up to $10,000. Small businesses should receive this advance within a few days of their application, making it a wonderful resource for those immediately impacted by COVID-19.
This EIDL advance must be used for:
- Sick leave pay for employees
- Payroll expenses
- Supply chain disruption costs
- Rent and mortgage expenses
- Debt payments
SBA Guaranteed Loan Payment Relief
To give businesses some much-needed debt relief, the SBA also includes Guaranteed Loan Payment Relief as a part of the CARES Act. The SBA will pay the principal, interest, and fees of a business’s SBA 7(a) loans, 504 loans, or microloans for up to 6 months.
SBA Express Bridge Loans
If a small business already has an active business relationship with an SBA Express Lender, they can qualify for an Express Bridge Loan. This program gives businesses loans of up to $25,000 with a fast turnaround.
Express bridge loans are not forgivable, so they must be repaid in full or in part by proceeds from the incoming EIDL loan. Their interest rate can be as high as 6.5% with a term of up to 7 years.
COVID-19 and Georgia
Ever since the first case of COVID-19 was discovered in Georgia, local businesses have faced tough times. As a result, local and federal governments are offering businesses various forms of economic assistance.
How Has COVID-19 Affected Georgia?
The Georgia counties that have seen the most significant outbreaks are:
Updated case numbers can be found through Google’s coronavirus tracker. By mid-June, Georgia’s case numbers were on the rise after reopening. There has also been some speculation that the state doctored statistics. If this is true, the outbreak may be more widespread than it presently seems.
Governor Brian Kemp’s Response
In response to this outbreak, Governor Kemp was reluctant to issue a statewide stay-at-home order. He preferred to let local counties determine their level of risk and establish local mandates accordingly.
However, on April 2nd, Governor Kemp instituted an executive order asking all Georgia residents to shelter-in-place through April 30th. This order shut down many businesses temporarily, including movie theaters, gyms, hair salons, and other businesses deemed “non-essential.” Schools were also closed down through April 24th.
On April 24th, the state started reopening. Then, on May 1st, the statewide shelter-in-place order was lifted.
To address the growing number of cases, Governor Kemp amped up Georgia’s healthcare staff. He brought in 570 additional healthcare professionals to help combat the virus.
Reopening Businesses in Georgia
- Gyms and other fitness centers
- Hair salons and barbers
- Nail salons
- Tattoo and body art shops
- Bowling alleys
- Massage therapists
From there, on Monday April 27th, the following were allowed to reopen:
- Movie theaters
- Dine-in restaurants
- Private social clubs
By June 15th, restaurants and movie theaters could begin to operate at full capacity, and bars could have up to 50 people. Likewise, salons and other personal services businesses could begin to accept walk-in patrons.
To open their businesses safely, business owners must adhere to reopening guidelines. They must:
- Disinfect and clean the place of business prior to reopening
- Ensure staff and clients do not have COVID symptoms
- Require employees to wear masks
Other measures like posting signs, requiring employees to wear gloves, and providing masks to clients are optional.
Note: Be sure to check with local regulations at the county level. Certain counties may be able to reopen earlier than others.
Furthermore, Governor Kemp still urges vulnerable and elderly Georgia residents to stay at home until June 12th. Whether or not these will remain open depends on the coming weeks and how the spread of the virus affects the legislature.
Nextdoor: A Neighborhood Hub for Local Businesses
There are many programs out there to help keep your Georgia business up and running. Once you’ve filed your loan applications, there’s one last thing you can do to support your business: create a Nextdoor Business Page.
Nextdoor brings local businesses and customers together in one place. With a Nextdoor Business Page, you can request recommendations from happy customers and boost your reputation locally. This will help you attract more customers in your neighborhood, even during this tough time.
According to internal surveys, 98% of people say local businesses positively impact their neighborhood’s quality of life. To tap into that sentiment, do your part for your community by providing pandemic-related services. By supporting your Nextdoor customers, your business will be much more likely to make it through the pandemic and beyond.
Georgia Department of Public Health. Georgia Department of Public Health COVID-19 Daily Status Report. https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report
Governor Brian P. Kemp Office of the Governor. Governor Kemp Issues Shelter in Place Order. https://gov.georgia.gov/press-releases/2020-04-02/governor-kemp-issues-shelter-place-order
Georgia USA. Governor Kemp’s Statewide Executive Order: Should My Business Remain Open?https://www.georgia.org/covid19bizguide
Governor Brian P. Kemp Office of the Governor. Georgia Announces Increased Staffing in Healthcare Facilities for COVID-19. https://gov.georgia.gov/press-releases/2020-04-14/georgia-announces-increased-staffing-healthcare-facilities-covid-19
Governor Brian P. Kemp Office of the Governor. Gov. Kemp Updates Georgians on COVID-19. https://gov.georgia.gov/press-releases/2020-04-20/gov-kemp-updates-georgians-covid-19
WCTV. Georgia Gov. Kemp says businesses may begin reopening as soon as Friday. https://www.wctv.tv/content/news/Georgia-Gov-Kemp-says-businesses-may-begin-reopening-as-soon-as-Friday-569797711.html
Governor Brian P. Kemp Office of the Governor. Georgia Board of Cosmetology and Barbers Issues Safety Guidelines for Reopening. https://gov.georgia.gov/press-releases/2020-04-21/georgia-board-cosmetology-and-barbers-issues-safety-guidelines-reopening
University of Georgia Small Business Development Center. WEBINAR INFORMATION. https://www.georgiasbdc.org/georgia-small-business-recovery/#webinars
U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship. The Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act. https://www.sbc.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/2/9/29fc1ae7-879a-4de0-97d5-ab0a0cb558c8/1BC9E5AB74965E686FC6EBC019EC358F.the-small-business-owner-s-guide-to-the-cares-act-final-.pdf
The Washington Post. By Order of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/05/18/only-america-is-sunday-day-after-thursday/
If you are a local business, claim your free Business Page to get started on Nextdoor. Resources on how to use Nextdoor to stay connected with your local customers during coronavirus, pertinent news affecting businesses, and more, are available in our Small Business Guide for Coronavirus Relief.