There’s good news in the fight against Covid-19. By all accounts, the curve has been flattened in North America, with some jurisdictions preparing to begin early phases of re-opening. More than 20 vaccines are in development in different laboratories around the world, and some of them, like VIDO-Intervac in Saskatoon, Canada are poised to begin the second phase of testing, potentially making a vaccine available by next Spring. Doctors in Los Angeles have reported success pairing Hydroxychloroquine with zinc to treat extreme cases of Covid-19, and the world awaits news from a company called Gilead Sciences, who will shortly release results from large scale, phase 3 testing on a repurposed Ebola drug called Remdesivir, that has shown early promise.
So there are multiple lights at the end of the tunnel. While there’s still work to do, the prognosis for the recovery of our physical health here in North America looks good. But what remains to be seen is the effect this disease has on our financial and economic health. Larger centers like New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto are in no hurry to re-open, and many businesses…especially small businesses…are suffering to the point where re-opening at all is beginning to look questionable.
During March 2020, 77% of Canadian businesses were fully or partially closed, and more than half of Canadian companies reported a drop in profits of more than 50%. A new poll from MetLife and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reveals that one in four small American businesses (24%) say they are two months or less from closing permanently amid the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. On both sides of the border, businesses are feeling the sting.
To help, Governments have announced a myriad of programs, and here’s a few we’d like to suggest our customers look into if they haven’t already:
1. Here’s the U.S. Chamber of Commerce page explaining the expansion of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, to companies with 500 or fewer employees: https://www.uschamber.com/report/guide-sbas-economic-injury-disaster-loans
2. Here’s the SBDC website, with among other things, a Pandemic Loans Comparison guide, and a business resiliency plan template: https://americassbdc.org/coronavirus-information/
3. Here’s the SBA’s website explaining the Paycheck Protection Program: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program
2. The Canadian government is also offering interest-free loans of up to $40,000 through the Canadian Emergency Business Account and is partnering with major banks to provide loan guarantees for small and medium businesses.
3. The Canadian government has also reached an agreement with the provinces to enact a program called Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) that allows businesses to have up to 75% of their rent cost forgiven.
4. Canada has also established a $675 million dollar fund to help smaller businesses that wouldn’t otherwise qualify for programs, through the various regional development agencies.
Information about these and other programs can be found on the government website, here. Does this help you? Are there other programs we should know about, that are making a difference for your company? Reach out to me at email@example.com and share your stories of being a small business during Covid-19.