5 Ways to Prepare for Re-Opening your Business:

Simple steps to assure that when your doors are once again back open you will be prepared and ready.

#1 Build a Covid-19 Plan
Take a few moments and write down your plan of action. This plan will later be used in marketing efforts to show you are serious about customer and staff safety. Call it your Covid-19 Safety Plan and review, as necessary. Include material needed checklist, new protocols, safety procedures, social distancing and marketing.

#2 Respect Social Distancing
By now you have been to a store that has placed the stickers on the floor on where to stand, saw the signs that say no more than 10 people, noticed some doors are marked entry and some are exit and even seen plastic shields in front of the counters. You need to consider similar procedures. Start gathering necessary supplies and signage to accommodate your Covid-19 plan.

#3 Create a Cleaning Schedule
Consumers will notice if your store is clean, organized, and safe to enter. Make sure you are rebuilding your cleaning plan and have all the necessary times needed to do so. Build a new schedule and add it to your daily calendar and make sure your staff is fully aware of the new procedures. Build in inspection times and checklists for quality control.

#4 Market Your Covid-19 Plan
As businesses begin to re-open, consumers will look for those locations that have clearly marketed their COVID-19 safety plan. Big franchises as well as other small businesses that have already remained open have executed this very well and for some it has really increased their numbers. When you begin to market that you’re back open for business, follow it up with your plan and protocols. Consumers will notice and will make sure they are entering a safe environment.

#5 Respect the Process
This process of re-opening will constantly adjust as our leaders evaluate the current environment. Just as many people who are ready for business to be as usual, there are others who will remain overly cautious for quite some time. If you cater your plan to the cautious the more open consumers will respect those procedures. The lack of a “Covid-19 Safety Plan” will undoubtedly lose come consumers. The faster we adhere to safety protocols, the faster we all will get back to business as usual.

Rural Small Business Relief Grant Opportunity

Small businesses in rural communities are encouraged to apply in the next round of this nationwide grant program. The $25 million program is being administered through the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the nation’s largest community development organization. LISC is offering $5,000-$20,000 grants aimed at helping small businesses in communities having a population of 50,000 or less. Grant funds can be used for business operating expenses that were not reimbursed through another federal grant program, and include wrap-around technical assistance. The application window for the next round runs October 26 – November 2. To learn more, please visit the website here.

How to Get Your PPP Loan Forgiven

Paycheck Protection Program loans were a popular option for businesses hoping to survive COVID-19-related shutdowns. Here is what businesses need to do to get their PPP loans forgiven.
To qualify for PPP loan forgiveness, the SBA set up various requirements that must be fulfilled. Effectively, forgiveness is granted to employers that kept or rehired employees while also maintaining general salary levels from before the pandemic. Employers can still be eligible for partial forgiveness if they don’t meet all of these criteria, such as if full-time headcount declined or salaries decreased somewhat.

Requirements include:

  • Funds are allowed to be used for payroll costs, rent, utilities and interest on mortgages.
  • At least 60% of loan must be used for payroll costs.
  • While the loan is being used, employers must attempt in good faith to maintain similar levels of employment and pay that they had prior to the pandemic.
  • For additional information on the PPP Loan Forgiveness process, go to the U.S. Chamber site or to be directed to the PPP Loan Forgiveness application, click here.

    Assessor COVID-19 Business Review

    If COVID-19 has impacted your business financially, the Ascension Parish Assessor’s Office may be able to offer assistance after review of your business’ loss and its impact on your property. As the owner, you must be able to show at least a three year history of financial documents to determine the economic impact was due to the pandemic, provide details regarding any government assistance received, and any other information needed after an in person meeting. Adjustments will be made on a case by case basis. If you feel your business meets the criteria for assistance, please contact the Assessor’s Office to schedule a meeting at your place of business, for your convenience. Call (225) 647-8182 or (225) 473-9239 by August 31 to schedule an appointment.

    This COVID-19 economic assistance is afforded to Ascension Parish businesses as a result of the combined efforts of the Assessor and other local parish government agencies.

    OSHA has put out guidance on preparing the workplace for re-opening as well as COVID-19 guidance for specific industries in both English and Spanish here: OSHA Guidance

    The Louisiana Office of the Governor has partnered with the Louisiana Office of the State Fire Marshall to create a website for safely opening businesses in a safe, phased-in approach. To register your business and review these guidelines, click on the Open Safely site.

    For those that are members of SHRM, there are content resources available for safe re-opening and FMLA Leave Expansion and Emergency Paid Sick Leave Policy at this page: SHRM Resources

    The Department of Labor (DOL) also has a site dedicated to workplace safety and employment policy regulations, unemployment insurance relief, and support for dislocated workers. This includes printable posters for the workplace. DOL Site.

    Resources and Fliers:

    Main Street Recovery Program
    Paycheck Protection Program: Update June 18, 2020
    South Central Planning and Development Commission, click Corona Recovery Loan Program.
    Small Business Grants for Women-Owned Businesses, click here.
    For information on what you should know about the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act and the Coronavirus, click here.
    For information on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), click here
    For information on opening restaurants, click on the Fire Marshall’s Guidance for Restaurant / Food Service Outdoor Seating Criteria
    Tips for Reopening after Stay at Home Order is Lifted
    Coronavirus Economic Stabilization Act of 2020 (“CESA”)
    Economic Injury Disaster Loan Update April 24, 2020
    Employee Retention Tax Credit Guide
    Louisiana Loan Portfolio Guaranty Program
    Louisiana Loan Portfolio Guaranty Program (LPGP) – FAQs
    U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s list of small business resources for coronavirus assistance
    Senate Committee on Small Business & Enterpreneurship released the Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act.
    Small Business Guide and Checklist
    To read a summary of H.R. 748 from Senator Bill Cassidy Click here.
    Conronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act has passed.

    Information and Guidance for Businesses on Federal Aid During COVID-19:
      America’s Small Business Development Centers released a spreadsheet last week that compares all of the currently available SBA programs, including the Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Paycheck Protection Program. You can access the document by clicking here.

      NOTE: Businesses are strongly urged to discuss all of these options directly with their local bank, accountant, or attorney for the best advice and guidance.

    Economic Injury Disaster Loan:
      Available now at Apply here.

    • Interest Rate: 2.75% for non-profits, 3.75% For-Profits
    • Up to $2 Million in Assistance (Up to $500,000 for first 6 months)
    • 30-Year term
    • One year of deferred payments
    • For more information on the current SBA Disaster loan program requirements and step-by-step directions: SBA Disaster Loan Assistance.

    Paycheck Protection Program:
    • Interest Rate of 4% for both non- and for-profit businesses
    • Up to $10 Million in assistance
    • 10-Year Term
    • 6 Months of Deferred Payments
    • Possible forgiveness plan for first 8 weeks if you meet qualifications (forgiveness includes payroll, utility bills, mortgage/rent)
    • 7(a) loans will be available through approved local banks in about 2 weeks
      • Required Documents Checklist

      • Payroll summary report for last 12 months
      • IRS Form 940 & 941 (payroll tax forms)
      • 2019 business tax returns (or 2018 return if 2019 is not yet filed)
      • Statement of payroll benefits offered to employees
      • Evidence of payroll taxes, inusrance premiums and benefits paid
      • Driver’s licenses for all owners with 20% or greater ownership stake
      • Entity formation documents:
      • Articles of Incorporation (or Articles of Organization)
      • Bylaws and Operating Agreement
      • Tax ID Number (Employer Identification Number)
      • Board of Director Minutes (if applicable)
      • Ownership Verification (if applicable)

        Curious about what loan option is best for you? Look at this SBA chart for a quick reference guide.

      Ascension Economic Development Corporation staff members are available to assist you Mondays and Wednesdays 9:00 am – 12:00 pm. For alternate time frames better suited to your schedule, please call (225) 675-1750 or email info@ascensionedc.com to schedule an appointment.