This article was updated June 25, 2020.
What Is Texas Doing To Help Businesses?
In addition to developing a reopening strategy, Texas has created programs to provide economic relief to Texas businesses in need during COVID-19.
The Shared Work Program
Many Texas business owners can’t afford to pay their employees’ full paycheck at the moment. If you’re one of them, this leaves you with the hard choice of either laying off employees or going under. Fortunately, the Texas Workforce Commission is offering employers support through their Shared Work Program.
This program allows businesses to reduce their employees’ work hours between 10% and 40%. In turn, the program supplements employees’ income with partial unemployment benefits. The goal of this program is to reduce layoffs while giving Texas businesses some relief.
To learn more about the Shared Work Program, visit the Texas Workforce Commission website.
Mass Claims Program
For businesses that have been forced to close temporarily or permanently, keeping employees on the payroll might be off the table. In this case, the Texas Workforce Commission has developed its Mass Claims Program.
This program helps employers file for unemployment benefits on behalf of their employees. Here are its benefits:
- It streamlines the filing process
- It’s more efficient
- It gets employees their unemployment benefits faster
Small Business Webinar Series
Finally, to help small business owners stay up-to-date, the Governor and the Texas Economic Development Council have put together a webinar series. This series covers a wide range of COVID-19-related information tailored to small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Texas COVID Relief Fund
On May 6th, Governor Abbott announced a partnership with the OneStar Foundation to provide funding and resources for Texas organizations that support healthcare, education, and economic development.
What Types of Programs Are Being Offered By The Federal Government?
In addition to seeking support from the Texas government, make sure you review the Federal Government’s offerings as well.
The Federal Government has developed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, established on March 27th. This act puts $1.8 trillion towards the following programs.
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
The Small Business Association (SBA) created the Paycheck Protection Program to help small businesses keep their employees on the payroll. To ease the burden on business owners, the SBA is providing a forgivable loan of up to $10 million to any small business that holds onto its employees for 8 weeks (although businesses can also now choose a longer, 24-week term). This loan must be used for:
- Payroll (75% of the loan must go towards this expense)
- Rent or mortgage
- Utility expenses
If your Texas business could benefit from this loan, apply through the SBA 7(a) lender of your choice.
The funds for this program were depleted due to the demand from small businesses. It was then re-upped on April 23rd, with the secondary relief package. Then, the June Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 made it easier to spend funds and receive loan forgiveness.
Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Advance
Another program from the SBA is the Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. It provides up to $2 million in disaster relief to small businesses with 500 employees or less.
Since so many businesses need money right now, the SBA is offering an advance of up to $10,000 on their EIDL loans. This allows businesses to get funds within a few days. Best of all, this advance does not need to be repaid, as long as it’s used for:
- Sick leave expenses
- Payroll expenses
- Costs associated with supply chain disruptions
- Rent and mortgage expenses
- Debt payments
SBA Guaranteed Loan Payment Relief
Another facet of the CARES Act is the SBA’s Guaranteed Loan Payment Relief. This program helps businesses pay for their 7(a) loan, 504 loan, and microloan expenses for up to 6 months.
SBA Express Bridge Loans
One final aspect of the CARES Act is the Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program. This program is available to businesses that already use an SBA Express Lender.
It provides fast funds of up to $25,000 to supplement lost revenue due to COVID-19. In other words, it bridges the gap while small businesses apply for traditional EIDL loans.
Take note that these loans are not forgivable and come with a 6.5% interest rate.
COVID-19 in Texas
COVID-19 has made its way across the country and Texas is no exception. Updated case numbers can be found through Google’s case tracker. In the virus’s wake, many businesses are facing economic hardship and uncertainty. Fortunately, there are several programs built to support Texas businesses during this time.
Governor Greg Abbot’s Response
Due to this outbreak, Governor Greg Abbot implemented several protective measures outlined in his executive order from March 19th. This executive order prevented all Texans from:
- Visiting nursing homes and retirement facilities
- Dining in at restaurants and bars
- Hosting gatherings of more than 10 people
- Going to gyms and fitness centers
- Attending in-person school classes
To enhance public safety even further, Governor Abbot issued another executive order on March 31st extending social distancing through April 30th and ordering all schools to stay closed until May 4th. On April 7th, Governor Abbot also closed down all Texas state parks and historical sites.
On April 27th, Texas began reopening.
How Are Texas Counties Responding?
While Governor Abbot’s state-wide order did not include a shelter-in-place policy, several Texas counties have implemented one on their own. Likewise, many jurisdictions mandate Texans to wear masks whenever they leave their homes.
Reopening Businesses in Texas
On April 17th, Governor Abbot released an executive order outlining his plans to reopen Texas, which are made possible due to comprehensive COVID-19 testing and contact tracing. Certain businesses began reopening on April 24th. Their eligibility is currently determined by the level of threat they pose to spreading COVID-19.
Governor Abbott has also called together a team of advisors and medical experts to form the Strike Force to Open Texas. This team is guiding the Texas reopening process so it’s done safely and strategically.
In accordance with these guidelines, the following businesses and facilities have reopened:
- Parks and beaches – As of June 3, public parks can operate at 50% capacity
- Bars – As of June 3, bars can operate at 50% capacity
- Restaurants – As of May 22nd, restaurants can operate at 50% capacity
- Gyms – As of May 18, gyms can operate at 25% capacity
- Personal services like nail salons and barber shops can reopen with social distancing measures in place
Although case numbers began to rise after the first phase of reopening, Texas has continued reopening. As of June 3, a wide array of large capacity businesses could operate at reduced capacity:
- Amusement parks
- Video game facilities
Schools remain closed for the academic year, and restrictions around nursing and retirement homes remain in effect.
The Strike Force website provides printable flyers to educate customers, as well as guidelines for businesses in each industry. Business must take the following steps:
- Train employees on COVID-19 safety
- Encourage masks
- Regularly clean and disinfect
- Implement social distancing between customers and employees
- Disallow activities that involve physical contact (i.e. dancing)
- Provide hand sanitizer
The state reserves the right to monitor businesses and to fine or close any that do not comply. However, there are local county ordinances that may supersede those of the state regulations. Be sure to contact your local government to see about reopening your business.
Nextdoor: Your Local Neighborhood Hub
In addition to seeking government support, small businesses can enhance their revenue by creating a Nextdoor Business Page. Nextdoor is a neighborhood hub for local businesses and customers. Whether you’re located in Austin, Dallas, or a small Texas suburb, there’s a Nextdoor community for you.
Nextdoor helps locals in your area discover your business and gives them a place to leave reviews. Since 67% of Nextdoor members share recommendations with each other, your Business Page will help you attract more customers quickly.
To stand out during this pandemic, find ways to provide services tailored to your community’s COVID-19 needs. For example, add groceries to your restaurant offerings or put together a special, catered Sunday brunch. By supporting your neighbors, you can create a meaningful connection with them and receive their patronage in return.
Texas Health and Human Services. Texas Case Counts: COVID-19. https://txdshs.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/ed483ecd702b4298ab01e8b9cafc8b83
Office of the Texas Governor. Governor Abbott Issues Executive Orders In Accordance With Federal Guidelines To Mitigate Spread Of COVID-19 In Texas. https://gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-abbott-issues-executive-orders-in-accordance-with-federal-guidelines-to-mitigate-spread-of-covid-19-in-texas
Office of the Texas Governor. Governor Abbott Issues Executive Order, Implements Statewide Essential Services And Activities Protocols. https://gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-abbott-issues-executive-order-implements-statewide-essential-services-and-activities-protocols
Office of the Texas Governor. Governor Abbott Announces Temporary Closure Of State Parks And Historic Sites. https://gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-abbott-announces-temporary-closure-of-state-parks-and-historic-sites
Office of the Texas Governor. Executive Order No. GA- 16. https://gov.texas.gov/uploads/files/press/EO-GA-16_Opening_Texas_COVID-19_FINAL_04-17-2020.pdf
Office of the Texas Governor. Governor Abbott, Texas National Guard Announce COVID-19 Mobile Testing Sites. https://gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-abbott-texas-national-guard-announce-covid-19-mobile-testing-sites
Office of the Texas Governor. The Governor’s Report to Open Texas. https://gov.texas.gov/uploads/files/organization/opentexas/OpenTexas-Report.pdf
Covering Katy News. Texas Retail Stores Reopen April 24 - How it will work. https://www.coveringkaty.com/news/texas-retail-stores-reopen-april-24---how-it-will-work/article_362f2688-816f-11ea-8629-078d2ee4967a.html
Texas Health and Human Services. COVID-19: Guidance for Employers, Employees, and Customers of Reopened Retail Services. http://media.graytvinc.com/documents/ReOpenedRetailGuidance.pdf
Texas Health and Human Services. Executive Order No. GA-17. https://gov.texas.gov/uploads/files/press/EO-GA-17_Open_Texas_Strike_Force_COVID-19_IMAGE_04-17-2020.pdf
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
Investopedia. Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020. https://www.investopedia.com/paycheck-protection-program-flexibility-act-of-2020-an-overview-4846944
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.