It would be an understatement to say we have hit a rough spot in the road.

Government-enforced closings, people told to “shelter in place,” folks afraid to come out and be close to other folks. Not easy on a small business. I’m told a lot of small businesses will not survive this pandemic.

I don’t believe it. I know the will, the determination and the creativity of small business owners is much stronger than a virus. I’ve been around long enough to know that even when things get to looking this bad, it will get better. Our focus now should be to survive until it does and to plan on how we will handle the uptick in business that is coming.

Right now there are a number of programs being offered to help small business owners weather this storm. Check them out, apply and allow someone to help.

SBA Disaster Assistance

SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance per small business and can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. For additional information, contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center. Call 800-659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

Florida Small Business Bridge Loans

On March 16, Gov. Ron DeSantis activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to support small businesses impacted by COVID-19. The bridge loan program, managed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, in partnership with the Florida Small Business Development Center Network and Florida First Capital Finance Corp provides short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses that experienced economic injury from COVID-19. For more information about the program, email disaster@FloridaSBDC.org or call 866-737-7232.

Florida Damage Assessment Survey

DeSantis has activated the Business Damage Assessment survey to assess the impact of COVID-19 on Florida’s local business operations. The survey, managed by DEO, will evaluate businesses affected by COVID-19 and the impacts the virus has had on the local economy so actions to implement appropriate relief programs can begin. The survey can be taken online at www.florida disaster.biz.

Florida Reemployment Assistance

DeSantis has reminded Floridians that if their employment has been negatively impacted because of mitigation efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, these Floridians may be eligible to receive Reemployment Assistance. Visit Floridajobs.org and click on the Reemployment Assistance Service Center to learn more about the program and to watch a short video on how to apply.

Google Tools to help you remotely

Our Grow with Google Remote Work hub includes resources and free tools to help your own teams work smoothly, and to help you stay connected to the communities you serve. Google also created a new helpful site for small businesses with additional tips and recommendations to navigate this time of uncertainty for their employees and customers.

Contact your local chamber of commerce

Many chambers in the area are compiling and posting lists of their members who offer remote ordering and/or delivery. Many offer free benefits to promote your business and remind your customers you are still here. Things like Facebook postings, Hot Deals postings, posting a news release or post in their weekly newsletter. These benefits and more can help keep the name of your business top of mind for customers and potential customers. Don’t be afraid to reach out and tell folks you are still in business. Not a member of a chamber? Now might be a great time to join.

Watch for webinars

I am working with some of the chambers in the area to produce webinars with information on how to change the way you do business, ideas on how to stay in touch with your customers and employees, and how to plan for the rebound. Stay tuned.

Those of you who know me or remember my writings from earlier, know I am a giant proponent of small business and small business owners. I will be here to do what I can to see we all get through this and come out better on the other side.

You can always check out my blog at Edtalksbusiness.com or contact me at Edtalksbusiness@comcast.net.Things will get better.

Ed Davis is a longtime columnist and expert in small businesses in Southwest Florida.

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