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Supporting local businesses and workers is one thing each of us can do right now. We’ve set up this page with resources, key information, creative initiatives and contacts.

Quick links to information in this document:

Unemployment Insurance

Business Insurance notes

Mortgage, lease, rent relief for Residents and Businesses

SBA & Mountain BizWorks Loan Information

Tax Information

General Business Assistance

Gig Workers Assistance

Restaurant Workers Assistance

Musicians, Artists and Event Producers Assistance

Hospitality Workers Assistance

Nonprofit Assistance

Childcare Assistance

Census Jobs

External links to helpful info:

OneBuncombe Fund

Food trucks and temp. signage ease on restrictions (City of Asheville)

$2.2T Stimulus package  (entire bill, our advisors are looking at it and we’ll update this site as soon as we have some distilled, accurate information) Mountain BizWorks’ has a good summary here >

Paid Sick Leave for small businesses (via IRS)

Families First Act

Coronavirus Información en Español (via Hola Carolina)

 

For the most recent updates affecting our community please visit Buncombe County’s COVID-19 preparedness page.

We support the American Sustainable Business Council‘s effort to Save our Economy Now. Please consider signing on and telling congress. It’s easy!

Visit here for the summary of the recent Chamber survey (over 500 participants).

Virtual Town Halls
The City of Asheville and the Chamber have pulled together panelists to discuss important considerations and resources for businesses. Recordings here >

FAQ’s: Below you’ll find links to some answers, others are answered directly. Note, not all questions have been answered, yet. If you have knowledge, answers or additional questions, please email [email protected]. Our goal is to update this page as frequently as possible. Many thanks to all the folks who contributed!

General questions we have collected from the community

  • Is there anything being done for mortgage, rent or lease relief?
    • What aid/support might there be for property owners who cannot pay their mortgage? Mortgage Relief for Homeowners from Mike Figura and Mosaic Realty
    • Are there incentives for property owners to not evict tenants for non-payment whether business or residential. See the ACT article on evictions and foreclosures being postponed. No info on businesses that we’ve seen, yet, but some encouraging news from Detriot.
    • Should we pay our rent and/or talk with the landlord? see Mortgage, lease, rent relief for Businesses
    • Are we able to put a moratorium on evictions?From Kimberly Hunter, Realtor:
      • If you have a relationship with a trusted real estate broker or someone on retainer, they can help you work through your financial needs on paper for suggesting adaptations to your lease that will buy you time. A real estate attorney will be needed to put something in writing but the initial process around financials and a shift in terms can be done by our real estate agent. If you don’t have one, call me 828-702-7842 and I will help.
  • I owe state and federal taxes for 2019, can these payments be deferred? See Tax Information
    • Should we pay our payroll taxes? (advice from Sandra Dennison, SBTDC)
      • Yes- this should be a priority over other things. Call the state and see if they can work with you at this time.
    • Should we pay sales tax? (advice from Sandra Dennison, SBTDC)
      • Yes, you will want to pay sales tax as well. This is priority and both of these can result in high interest paybacks if not paid.  In the state and federal government eyes- you received this money and so you must pay it to them. Again call to see if they can work out arrangements but do not just stop paying.
  • What is happening with the flood of unemployment insurance claims? Will there be a delay in payments? See Unemployment Insurance
    • How can we help our part-time employees when we can’t give them hours?
    • If I need to close, is it better I lay off employees now?
    • If we lay them off will they be able to draw unemployment income?
    • How much will unemployment insurance cover? And for how long?
    • Is there any support or assistance for contract workers?
    • Can members of an LLC apply for unemployment? If not, is there anything they can do to get assistance?
    • Should we pay employees 2 weeks of sick leave first, assuming the current House bill passes the Senate?
    • Are there other options to help employees? What the best thing businesses can do for their staff?
    • From Jake Farrar, Van Winkle Law Firm
  • If someone came to my business while having the virus, are we at risk of being sued?
  • Is there a way to use TDA money to help small businesses recover? Read the TDA updates
    • Can there be a grant for those businesses in Asheville that specifically help tourism. Like bars, restaurants, venues, theaters, bakeries, coffee shops, bus tours, independent retail and perhaps even independent radio stations?
    • Can they provide 0% interest loans?
    • How can we pressure TDA to put off advertising as long as possible?
  • Where can I find resources for living and working virtually?

Answers and helpful documents

below from the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce (see their website for updates and more resources)

Unemployment Insurance

EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 117 – North Carolina

In addition to ordering that restaurants end sit-down service and move to take-out or delivery only, it also expands access to unemployment insurance for workers affected by COVID-19 in any industry.

  1. Removes the 1-week waiting period to apply for unemployment insurance;
  2. Removes the requirement that an applicant must look for another job during this time;
  3. Allows employees who lose their jobs or have hours reduced to apply for benefits;
  4. Permits applicants to apply for benefits remotely by phone or online; and
  5. Employers will not be held responsible for benefits paid as a direct result of COVID-19 claims.

 

below from Kathy Sheppard, Sheppard Insurance Group

Business Insurance

I wish I could give you some comforting news in regard to insurance coverage but unfortunately that is not the case.  For the most part your various business insurance coverages will not respond to problems arising from COVID-19. With that said each person should contact their own agent or insurance company for definite confirmation based on their specific policies.  I will address the most common types of coverage I have been asked about.

Loss of business income– This coverage is activated after direct physical loss to your business, such as after a fire, burst water pipe, windstorm, etc.  As a rule, the existence of a communicable disease is not considered direct physical loss and as such there would be no trigger for the loss of income coverage.

Property coverage-You may have an exclusion in your policy under the property coverage for loss due to virus or bacteria.

Civil Authority- You may see a reference in your policy for loss of income after being ordered to cease operations by Civil Authority.  However, even in that case there has to be a direct physical loss to your business for the coverage to respond.

General Liability- This is the coverage you would look to if someone claimed your business was the cause of their contracting COVID-19.  Many, if not most, business policies include an exclusion for “Communicable Disease” that states in part the policy does not pay for bodily injury or property damage that arises out of the actual or alleged transmission of a communicable disease.

Workers Comp- As a rule an employee contracting the virus would not be considered a work-related injury but there could possibly be exceptions so any claim should be reported to your insurer to make that determination.

These basics are relevant to most small businesses such as retail shops, offices, restaurants, etc. which I assumed is the target audience for this particular discussion.  None of this is a new reaction by insurance companies to this pandemic. These policy exclusions have been in force since long before COVID-19.

If you do have to curtail or even close your business for a period of time I suggest you have a conversation with your agent about ways to perhaps minimize your insurance costs.  

  • Workers Comp- You may be able to reduce your payroll to reduce the premium.  Each workers comp classification has a related minimum premium you would have to maintain to keep the policy in force.  In some cases, it may also be best for you to cancel the policy if you do not anticipate opening again for a long period of time.
  • Commercial Package or Business Owners Policy- This is your property and general liability coverage.  If your business is temporarily closed you need to advise your agent and/or insurance company to see if there are any coverage ramifications during that time.  There may be ways to reduce some premium for this type of policy. If you maintain a lease your landlord probably requires you still have general liability coverage but you could possibly reduce that premium based on reduced anticipated annual payroll or revenue. You might want to reduce your property coverage based on reduced inventory and this would save some premium.
  • Business Auto- You are required to keep liability in force as long as there is a valid tag.  You are required to keep physical damage coverage in force if there is a loan. But depending on your circumstance your agent may suggest some cost saving measures.

Even if I do not personally handle your insurance program I am more than happy to have a one on one conversation with any of you with specific questions.  We have got to help each other through this!

below from Sandra Dennison, SBTDC

Small Business Administration & Mountain BizWorks Loan Information

Disaster Loans are now live and businesses can apply. The SBTDC is ready to help. They’re working with AB Tech’s Small Business Center, The Western Women’s Business Center, Mountain BizWorks, and many others to get our local businesses prepared to send these loan applications in. Below are the forms and information that the SBA will be looking for to make their decision. Sandra advises that all businesses work with a local business resource provider to make sure a complete application is submitted. As you can imagine the SBA is going to be flooded with requests and if an incomplete application is submitted, it could be rejected. Additionally, business owners should inquire with their primary bank 1st to begin restructuring their current loans as well as having conversations with their landlord about potential rent deferment if necessary. The SBTDC as well as the providers above can also help get financial packages assembled for local lenders as well.

Here’s what you can do to prepare:

Gather the following information:

  • Most recent Federal Tax Return
  • Year-End Profit & Loss Statement
  • A current year to date Profit & Loss Statement
  • Monthly break down of sales figures

Get Familiar with the Necessary SBA Forms:

  • Completed SBA loan application (SBA Form 5 for business) or (SBA Form 5C for sole proprietor)
  • Tax Information Authorization (IRS Form 4506T) for the applicant, principals and affiliates (20% Owners/GP/50% Affiliate)
  • Schedule of Liabilities (SBA Form 2202)
  • Personal Financial Statement (SBA Form 413). 20% Owners/GP

below from Mountain BizWorks

Mountain BizWorks is joining with partners from across the state to launch an innovative recovery resource – the NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Lending Program. This program is being launched with an initial allocation of $15 million from the Golden LEAF Foundation to the NC Rural Center who is coordinating the multi-lender partnership.

  • Maximum loan size: $50,000
  • 6 months of no interest and no payments, followed by 48 months of principal and interest payments at 5.5%

Learn more and apply >

 

below from Leah B. Noel, CPA, PC

Tax Information

On Friday morning, the Treasury Department, the IRS and North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced that the income tax filing deadline has now been extended to July 15, 2020.

 

Earlier this week, an announcement was made that there would be an extension of the tax payment deadline, but that announcement did not change the filing deadline – that has now changed. The agencies have now extended both the filing deadline for filing individual and business (C Corporations) income tax returns, as well as the payment deadline for those who owe taxes.

 

Leah B. Noel will continue to monitor sources for additional relief and guidance and provide updates.

General Business Assistance

Gig Workers Assistance

Restaurant Workers Assistance

Musicians, Artists and Event Producers Assistance

Hospitality Worker Assistance

Asheville hospitality workers relief GoFundMe (organized by Emily Dunaway)

Nonprofit Assistance

  • Community Foundation of NC Emergency and Disaster Response Fund (EDRF): provides funding for human service organizations in addressing basic needs that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

below from Mike Figura of Mosaic Realty

Mortgage, rent, lease relief for businesses

  • Landlords can take advantage of mortgage forbearance programs that are available to them and pass along relief to their tenants. We encourage landlords to check in with their tenants to see how they are doing and to take advantage of mortgage forbearance programs when needing to reduce their tenant’s rent.  This is especially important in a rent-burdened community like Western North Carolina. Tenants and landlords can elect to use this form, created by Mosaic Community Lifestyle Realty and Marshall, Roth and Gregory, P.C., to help make temporary rental contract adjustments for residential and commercial property.
    Download: Agreement to Amend Residential Rental Contract or Commercial Lease Agreement (“COVID-19 Amendment”)

Childcare Assistance

Census Jobs

US Census Taker Jobs Pay $19/hour

The US Census is recruiting workers, a lot of them in Buncombe County. These jobs may help you get through these tough times in good financial shape. Applications that you can fill out online are for part to full-time Census Taker positions. The field work (people contact) won’t start until at least the end of May and you may be working in June, July and August. The Census Taker job pays $19/hour in Buncombe County with premium pay after 6 PM weekdays and on Sundays and you get 57.5 cents a mile for official travel. You’ll be expected to work 20 hours a
week. Scheduling these hours is totally flexible — You can make them fit around your part-time work schedule if you have one. Work is temporary, maybe 8 weeks to start with some more weeks possible. There is good income for you, paid weekly, until you get your long-term gig back.

Learn more and apply >
or contact our local representative, Peter with any questions
[email protected]
| 828-641-7100 (office)

While most Census Taker activity is expected to be in June, July and August, hiring is going on now. The earlier an applicant gets the application in, the more likely the applicant will be called.

 

Gratitude in solidarity

Many thanks to our team at Go Local Asheville, the City of Asheville, Asheville Downtown Association, Just Economics, Asheville Chamber of Commerce, Explore Asheville, the Radical Communicators Network, Hola Carolina, Mountain Xpress, Claudette Silver (Silver Muse Productions), Sage Turner (French Broad Food Coop and candidate for City Council), Kimberly Hunter (Realtor), Sandra Dennison (SBTDC), Jake Farrar (VanWinkle Law Firm), Geoff Ferland (Hummingbird Insurance), Leah B. Noel (CPA), Elizabeth Schell (local activist and owner of Purl’s Yarn Emporium) and others for helping to compile this list of resources.