Assisting ND Small Businesses to Prepare for and Recover from COVID-19 Impacts
Your ND Small Business Development Centers, ND Procurement Technical Assistance Center and VBOC of the Dakotas programs are focused on assisting with the continuity of operations of our small business clients across the state. Our commitment is to share the most timely information, processes and resources available.
Our service centers are primarily working remotely. We plan to continue to serve our clients virtually (phone, email, Zoom or Skype) unless we are directed otherwise by our various host institutions and organizations (UND, NDSU RTP, DSU, WSC, North Central Planning Council, Bowman County Dev. Corp, Divide County JDA). Our staff have been directed to use discretion over their own situations and what is taking place within their own regions. If you require a meeting with your advisor, they may ask you if you prefer a virtual or phone meeting instead of an in-person visit, this is for your safety and the safety of our staff, to avoid any possible situations where exposure may occur. Please check with your local service center for confirmation of any event you were planning to attend; group training events or workshops scheduled for the coming weeks may be postponed.
Please visit our Contact page to find the location nearest you if you have questions about the continuity of your business during this time. If you are an existing client, please contact your current business advisor. If you are a new, prospective client, please register for services at the center location of your choice. For all clients: please know that businesses impacted by the COVID-19 situation will take priority for appointment scheduling at this time. Each of our advisors are ready to assist, to ensure that your business is successful in any situation. #WeCanHelpWithThat
Our hearts and thoughts go out to the people who have been affected by this unprecedented event and we appreciate the healthcare workers, local communities, and governments who are on the front line working to contain this situation. We will continue to do our best to communicate useful business resources and provide support to mitigate the impacts to our state’s small businesses.
The following is information and available resources to help you during this period of uncertainty.
- March 26 - EIDL Application process - recording
- April 8 - SBA EIDL Advance and Streamlined EIDL application process - recording
- We are working on scheduling training events on EIDL vs. PPP for each region - stay tuned.
Department of Commerce Business Briefings, hosted by GNDC
- April 2 - What you need to know about the CARES Act - recording
- March 26 - Emergency Business Financing - recording
- March 18 - Overall Business Briefing - recording | recap
- Manage Your Business Remotely in Times of Uncertainty - May 6
- 11 Things You Must Adjust in Your Social Media During These Crazy Days - View Recording
If you are need of resources in Spanish, we are happy to share these recordings from the Puerto Rico SBDC.
North Dakota COVID-19 Business Impact Survey
The ND Department of Commerce is asking for your participating to better understand how the Coronavirus pandemic is impacting your business. Please take a few minutes to complete this brief survey.
SBA Disaster Loan Application Process
The online application portal has been updated. This one application allows you to apply for the standard EIDL and the $10k advance option. You will likely also find our step-by-step checklist helpful when preparing for and completing the application.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocated $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn. Known as the Paycheck Protection Program, the initiative provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses who maintain their payroll during this emergency. Learn more in this document from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, there is updated informatoin on the ND Department of Commerce website and we have put together a document checklist to assist people preparing to apply for the PPP.
We created this document to assist with some FAQ's on the PPP vs. and EIDL. We'll update as we continue to learn more. We are preparing a checklist of document to gather/prepare when working with a lender on the PPP.
Federal and State Resources
In advance of employees getting sick, the US Chamber has published these helpful tips:
- Determine whether flex working is an option: Review human resources policies and explore whether you can establish policies and practices, such as flexible worksites (e.g., telecommuting) and flexible work hours. Supervisors should educate employees that if they become sick they should telework instead of coming into the workplace until symptoms are completely resolved.
- Create an employee communications plan: Establish a process to communicate the latest Coronavirus information to employees and business partners (utilize the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Workplace Tips For Employees). Anticipate employee fear, anxiety, rumors, and misinformation, and plan communications accordingly.
- Decide how to handle spikes in absenteeism: In some communities, early childhood programs and K-12 schools may be dismissed, particularly if Coronavirus worsens. Determine how you will operate if absenteeism spikes from increases in sick employees, those who stay home to care for sick family members, and those who must stay home to watch their children if dismissed from school.
- Coordinate with state and local health officials: Coordination with state and local health officials is strongly encouraged for all businesses so that timely and accurate information can guide appropriate responses in each location where their operations reside. Given the intensity of an outbreak may differ according to geographic location, local health officials will be issuing guidance specific to their communities. Also, employers should take the time now to learn about plans in place in each community where they have a business by contacting their local public health department.
- Make a business continuity plan: Be prepared to change your business practices if needed to maintain critical operations (e.g., identify alternative suppliers, prioritize customers, consider digital meetings, or temporarily suspend some of your operations if needed).
The U.S. Small Business Administration is keeping on top of things for you as well. General guidance for preventing workplace exposure to acute respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19 is as follows:
- Actively encourage sick employees to stay home, ensure your sick leave policies are known by your employees
- Provide local managers (if you have multiple locations) with the authority to take appropriate actions based on the conditions in each locality
- Separate sick employees, send employees home if they display any symptoms of respiratory illness.
- Emphasize respiratory etiquette, hand hygiene and social distancing by employees, at work or out in public, to minimize exposure
- Perform routine cleaning (or more than usual), especially of frequently touched surfaces such as workstations, countertops, keyboards, shared writing utensils, the breakroom, and doorknobs. Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces can be wiped down by employees before each use
- Advise employees before traveling to take certain steps:
- Check the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations for each country to which you will travel. Specific travel information for travelers going to and returning from designated countries with risk of community spread of Coronavirus, and information for aircrew, can be found on the CDC website.
- Additional Measures in Response to Currently Occurring Sporadic Importations of the
- Employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.
- If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employees exposed to a co-worker with confirmed COVID-19 should refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.
The CDC also has a specific resource page of Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to help you plan, prepare and respond to Coronavirus.
Locally, the ND Department of Health has released their recommendations for events and public gatherings, and the definitions of the three risk levels or thresholds associated with Coronavirus.
“These recommendations are designed to help leaders, event organizers and others determine which actions are needed to mitigate and contain the spread of coronavirus,” Burgum said. “While North Dakota is currently at the lowest risk level, with one confirmed case of COVID-19 and no evidence of community spread, event organizers are free to implement more stringent restrictions. We anticipate crossing these thresholds as community spread of COVID-19 arrives in North Dakota.” General information and updates for the Coronavirus situation in ND can be found on the ND Dept. of Health website.
To best serve businesses and communities dealing with the threat of COVID-19, the Department of Commerce has temporarily re-directed human and financial resources to support you.Visit our website for the most current information.
Ways Your Business May Be Impacted
Incidents can strain a small business's financial capacity to make payroll, maintain inventory and respond to market fluctuations (both sudden drops and surges in demand). Businesses should prepare by exploring and testing their capital access options so they have what they need when they need it. See SBA’s capital access resources.
Incidents have just as much impact on your workers as they do your clientele. It’s critical to ensure they have the ability to fulfill their duties while protected.
While the possibility could be remote, it is a prudent preparedness measure to ensure you have either adequate supplies of inventory for a sustained period and/or diversify your distributor sources in the event one supplier cannot meet an order request.
Depending on the incident, there may be a need to enhance the protection of customers and staff by increasing the frequency and intensity by which your business conducts cleaning of surfaces frequently touched by occupants and visitors. Check your maintenance contracts and supplies of cleaning materials to ensure they can meet increases in demand.
Many businesses have business interruption insurance. Now is the time to contact your insurance agent to review your policy to understand precisely what you are and are not covered for in the event of an extended incident.
Depending on the incident, there may be access controls or movement restrictions established which can impede your customers from reaching your business. Additionally, there may be public concerns about public exposure to an incident and they may decide not to go to your business out of concern of exposing themselves to greater risk. SBA’s Resources Partners and District Offices have trained experts who can help you craft a plan specific to your situation to help navigate any rapid changes in demand.
It’s critical to communicate openly with your customers about the status of your operations, what protective measures you’ve implemented, and how they (as customers) will be protected when they visit your business. Promotions may also help incentivize customers who may be reluctant to patronize your business.
As a business, bring your staff together and prepare a plan for what you will do if the incident worsens or improves. It’s also helpful to conduct a tabletop exercise to simulate potential scenarios and how your business management and staff might respond to the hypothetical scenario in the exercise. For examples of tabletop exercises, visit FEMA’s website.
Business continuity refers to maintaining business functions or quickly resuming them in the event of a major disruption. A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is a plan-of-action a company puts in place that can be relied upon in the event of an emergency, when tension and stakes run high.
Fears about COVID-19 can take an emotional toll, especially if you’re already living with an anxiety disorder. But you’re not powerless. These tips can help you get through this stressful time.
Inc.'s solutions center offers expert advice on handling panicked customers, interrupted supply chains, webinars, Zoom meetings, hyper kids, and a work environment that changes by the hour.
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.
Xfinity WiFi hotspots in out-of-home locations will be available for free to anyone who needs them, including non-Xfinity Internet customers, to keep our communities connected with their friends and family. Learn more.
As developments continue to unfold in response to the spread of COVID-19, we know many small businesses have questions about implications in the workplace and funding options to help bolster their businesses during this difficult time. We are compiling relevant tips and resources and information on new funding opportunities and policy developments that we are sharing on our website and through online presentations. We will be posting daily updates to this page with useful information about the ways small businesses can prepare for the impact of COVID-19 on their business and community.
The National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) and Direct Employers Associaltion announced the launch of NeedAJobNow.us.NLx.com, a job site dedicated to providing a centralized lcation for displaced employment opportunities from U.S. corporations with immediate hiring needs due to COVID-19.
"This new tool will help states quickly connect workers to employers with urgent job openings," said Scott B Sanders, NASWA Executive Director. "The Need a Job Now site will provide new opportunities for our workforce during thse unprecedented times and we are proud to partner in this NLx initiative."
eBay has laynched "Up & Running" to immediately bring small businesses online.
Compare your community's social distancing activity to its activity prior to COVID-19.
As a result of the spread of COVID-19, state agencies handling unemployment insurance, reemployment services and pre-employment training are faced with a new set of challenges. Read more.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) announced its first round of published guidance to provide information to employees and employers about how each will be able to take advantage of the protections and relief offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) when it takes effect on April 1, 2020.
Al Haut, District Director for the U.S. Small Business Administration, recently presented at our COVID-19 ND Business Briefing on Emergency Business Financing. This call was recorded and is available here. The information he provided was specific to what is currently available including
available websites and processes as well as some insight into what is coming as legislation
is voted into policy.
We (virtually) sat down with Al following the call to drill down on three questions to assist businesses and individuals.
Thryv and the ASBDC recently updated a national join study on the impact of coronavirus on small businesses. As devastation from the virus sweeps the nation, they committed to updating the study regularly. Week-over-week data is revealing trends in demand for small businesses as well as future implications for their financial stability. See the results.