HDR regularly sends out bi-weekly all-business emails with resources, news, and updates, and has been in regular contact with downtown small business owners in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. See below for the email sent to business owners on Thursday, March 19th. If you’re interested in receiving news and updates like this, please email Andrea.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Funding, action, more:
NEW CITY NO-INTEREST DISASTER IMPACT LOAN – 3-year term, no payments for 90 days after loan disbursed, up to $5000. APPLY TODAY – limited funds. Downtown is getting this directly first – others will rely on the media so get a jump on it. Applications are available on harrisonburgdevelopment.com. Contact Peirce Macgill at Harrisonburg Economic Development (540) 432-7701
SBA-DISASTER UNLOCKED – An hour ago, Virginia’s disaster application was approved. This unlocks SBA programs for you. DON’T WAIT. No application fee. Unsecured loans up to $25,000, secured up to $2M. 3.75% interest rate, repayment plans up to 30 years. Apply directly through SBA not banks. View applications in advance & and submit them online. Assemble all your docs before starting the application. The SBDC should have a 2pm Monday online tutorial. When that is scheduled, I will send you the link. Save the date for now.
Link to applications – https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/Information/PaperForms
SBDC – They are here to help you. You can still call them to talk through issues, problems, and get guidance. https://www.valleysbdc.org/
STATE SALES TAX RELIEF – later today the Virginia Commissioner of Revenue will issue a statement for consider requests for paying February sales tax due tomorrow
INCOME TAX – Extension of due days for corporate income taxes – May 1 returns are due but payment is extended to June 1. No late payment if paid by June 1. But I think they might have interest if later than that. State Tax Commissioner will post more online.
RENT: Call your property manager/landlord and explain you have no cash flow and ask them how they can help. If your property manager isn’t helpful – go directly to your building owner. HDR has reached out to a couple of the larger landlords and they all seem to be willing to work with you but you need to ask. They all say it will be determined on a case by case basis – so far there has been one month free, rent deferments, payment plans, waived fees, no evictions. Aim high – it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Call your bank. If you have a loan, find out how your terms can be reworked to keep you in business. We are going to start collecting bank information for our website since some are offering fee waivers, one-time deferments, etc. BB&T has a Coronavirus Relief Loan Program – 60-month, up to $50,000, deferred principal and interest. We’ll track everything that comes in that could help you.
Call utility companies. Tell them what you are facing. It sounds like they will work with you. At the very least, they are waiving late fees. If you can’t make a full payment, tell them what you can pay. The city’s water utility will be flexible.HEC in particular is very supportive – no fees, no disconnects, and if you can’t pay your bill in full, talk to them – they are willing to work with you. Columbia Gas has no disconnects, and no late fees until May 1 and will offer payment plans. Call them.
NEW 10-MINUTE PICK UP PARKING – HDR asked the city to install temporary 10-minute parking spaces around downtown to help with customer convenience for those still open. The city was all over this and made it happen in just a few days. They went up today! Ideas for additional placement? Message me.
FACEBOOK FREE ADS AND GRANTS – Since they collected all our data, they decided to give back! Sign up today for an alert as Facebook will be giving away $100 Million in cash grants and ad credits for 30,000 businesses. https://www.facebook.com/business/grants?content_id=BHPE62v7Kk9H0QH
UNEMPLOYMENT – If you let staff go or reduced their hours, they can get quicker access to unemployment benefits from the state. 1-week waiting period suspended. http://www.vec.virginia.gov/node/11699
MARKETING – Don’t stop talking to your customers. Emails, social media. Stay connected. When your head stops spinning, get creative.
Help us keep our downtown business page updated – https://downtownharrisonburg.org/covid19/
OTHER STUFF –
We are working as quickly as possible on different ideas. We have some support local radio PSAs and videos in the works. We are talking with financial institutions about additional relief loans and grants. We have been advocating for fee and penalty waivers for taxes. We have been talking with property owners about rent. Stay tuned.
There is also a team of restaurant owners who have been meeting with each other and contacting city staff and elected officials about the impact local taxes and penalties will have on the business community. They anticipate some answers tomorrow but so far feel as though they are being heard. More on this to come.
I am initiating a larger ask across Virginia via my counterparts in other communities to advocate the state government to consider not counting the current layoffs due to COVID19 against your unemployment taxes. We will draft something and send contact info with the hopes that you will make a call or send an email. Stay tuned.
Stay Healthy & Safe. You are Resilient. You are not alone in this.