Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) and You: What is available to me?

29. May 2020 16:18

By: Laurie Wolff, Certified Global Business Professional

If you missed funding in the initial rounds of the CARES Act stimulus, it is not too late to connect with your local Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) for help.  Some states, for example New Jersey,  have released new grant programs for small business as they have received their own federal funds.  A variety of nonprofits are raising funds to assist business, sometimes limited to particular regions or to particular types of business owners, such as women and minorities.  These programs are usually small grants, but those that receive them often get other help such as business counseling. 

As the need continues, I’m confident new funding will get raised and distributed.  Even if nothing is available for your business at this moment, the staff of the local SBDC is likely to learn of anything new as it comes along.  In New Jersey, businesses that applied but did not receive funds because the money ran out are getting priority in the second round.   

SBDCs can also provide counsel on best practices for managing cash flow, identifying new customers and potential markets, pivoting your business and other assistance to weather the crisis even if direct grants are not available.  They are a gateway to connecting your business with a network of service providers and resources to help you grow.

To find help near you, visit https://www.sba.gov/local-assistance/find/

Too see more from Laurie, be sure to check out her sessions Trade Finance: Getting the Funding You Need and Managing Risk for Exporters and Identifying New Export Markets and Customers at the IWF 2020 Education Conference.

Reach Laurie Wolff c/o IWFNetworkNews@iwfatlanta.com   

Getting Business Finance and Help at Your Local Level

6. April 2020 10:38

By: Laurie Wolff, Certified Global Business Professional

So far in my blogs we’ve focused on small business resources available at the national level through the CARES stimulus package. Where else can you get help? Almost certainly your state has programs available to assist small business. Many states are offering zero interest or low interest loans to businesses that qualify. There are funding pools available in some metropolitan areas or parts of states.

For example, the state of Illinois has several programs for businesses, some limited to Chicago, some to outside the Chicago area. California has state wide programs, and specific areas such as Sacramento and San Francisco have their own programs.

I live in St. Louis and our local tech incubator, which does lots of small business development, is networking and sharing links for a variety of regional programs. Your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) or economic development office will have the best information about programs available just for firms in your area as well as state wide or national programs.

If you haven’t made a relationship with them before, now is a good time to get networked with other businesses in your community. I’m sure District Export Councils and Chambers of Commerce are also trying to identify and share resources with their members. Local business communities and business assistance centers are pulling together to help get us through this pandemic induced economic crisis.

Private lenders, both traditional and the “fin tech” nontraditional lenders, are also offering help. Our new era of “fin tech” where nontraditional lenders and payment mechanisms have grown rapidly is both good and bad—there are new sources for funds and new abilities to move them rapidly, but there is also more possibilities for fraud and for nontraditional intermediaries to have liquidity issues. Exercise caution.

Do due diligence before you agree to anything. And, don’t forget that the government resources may be grants, which directly contribute to your bottom line, even if they might take longer to access.

I plan to talk with you about exporting when we meet in Atlanta at IWF 2020, but in the meanwhile I’m happy to answer questions and make referrals to resources, whatever will help you move forward with your business.

Reach Laurie Wolff c/o IWFNetworkNews@iwfatlanta.com

The New CARES Act Is Aimed at Helping You With Worker Payroll. Here's How to Tap It

3. April 2020 16:01

By: Laurie Wolff, Certified Global Business Professional

My guess is you are struggling with the economic impact of COVID-19. Some of you have new opportunities, given the need to retrofit spaces to protect employees and possibly even to produce high need items to fight the pandemic. Some of you can still operate normally. Others are facing state-wide stay-in-place orders that are challenging operations. Still more are seeing large decreases in your booked business and are having to lay off workers and manage your cash flow.

Help is on the way. But you will have to actively engage if you want to take advantage of any of the programs. I will have blogs on several opportunities but for this one I’m focusing on one program offered through the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Part of the CARES Act (the recently passed more than $2 trillion stimulus package) is directly aimed at keeping people working in small businesses across the country. Even if all is great for you right now, pay attention and consider applying. If you qualify as a small business, you can get a government loan that becomes a grant based on maintaining your payroll. Even if times are still good, this will increase your bottom line and allow you to invest in future opportunities. If times are tough, this is a potential life line to hold out until we get through the pandemic induced shut downs.

The Paycheck Protection Program offers small businesses loans that can be forgiven if all employees are kept on payroll for eight weeks and the loan is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest and utilities. The forgiven amount has to have at least 75 percent related to payroll expenses, but other expenses can be part of the loan package. 

Consider including expenses related to business expansion. The can include attendance at trade shows such as IWF 2020, which allows you to meet new customers or find new suppliers. I advised another small business I work with to include in his loan package funds to relocate part of his business to business sales effort - which now can’t happen in person - to an online platform. Are you getting the idea? 

 


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The loan has a maturity of two years, no payments for six months, and an interest rate of 1%. For now the window for payroll is between February 15th and June 30th so firms that have laid off workers can rehire them based on the loan and still qualify. Possibly the government may lengthen the window or increase the total funding level given future need, but for now the authorization is $350 billion. Loans can’t be for more than $10 million and most will be small.

You need to have a relationship with a banker to get this loan. Many banks that previously did not do SBA loans are seeking approval to make them for their customers. The existing SBA lenders, including the large national banks, are saying they will not be able to expand beyond their existing customers. If your bank isn’t trying to become a lender under this program, my best advice is to talk with the other banks in your town or region to find someone willing to work with you. While the loan is guaranteed by the government, the banks still have to do diligence and so the best situation is to work with a bank that already knows you and your operations.

I hope that the business owners that attended my IWF 2018 workshops on expanding their business through international trade stepped out, followed my advice, and got SBA loans because that now is advantageous. If you already have a SBA loans, it makes it easier to get this one, and the SBA has two programs open to extend payments or add extra lending to their existing clients’ loans.

To qualify as a small business, you generally have to have less than 500 employees, but you can go to SBA.gov to see if your business qualifies. Information about this and other programs is available there, but really, truly for this program you need to talk to your bank to see if they are ready to accept applications and if not, call around town to find a bank that will.

More on other opportunities in future blogs, but all the best as we try together to get through these challenging times!