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An Employer's 4-Step Approach to COVID-19 Navigation


Below are four steps you can take to prepare your business. We will update this information regularly as new information is available. If you have established relationships with your lender, a financial advisor, and an attorney we strongly suggest you reach out to them all as soon as possible to support you in navigating this process. You can also request assistance in navigating these programs through the University of Montana Business Emergency Assistance & Recovery (BEAR) program.

  • 1. Create a plan to protect the health and safety of your workforce and the public

    1. Implement the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
    2. Ensure your business and your staff are following state and local requirements for operation in Missoula County:
      1. Guide to Reopening in Missoula
      2. Missoula City-County Health Department Guidelines for Businesses
      3. Moving Forward: Resuming Business in a Changed Environment by Parsons, Behle & Latimer – a webinar offering guidance for implementing Montana’s reopening requirements
    3. If you are considering a strategic workforce reduction, first determine your liquidity and your need for financial relief or assistance (see item 3 below) to evaluate options and incentives available to encourage employee retention.
    4. If a workforce reduction is needed, provide your workforce with information on the resources available to help them financially through this transition.
      1. Unemployment
      2. Economic Impact Payments
      3. Montana Job Service
      4. State of Montana Emergency Housing Assistance Grant Program
  • 2. Evaluate your contracts and assess them for needed modifications

    Review your major agreements and contracts, such as supplier arrangements, leases, and loans. If you anticipate difficulty making payments, reach out to the entities with which you have agreements to discuss options. Many entities are willing and able to make accommodations, defer payments, or restructure agreements, but only with proactive communication about these needs. You may be better prepared for step three if you understand these options before you measure your liquidity.

  • 3. Assess your cashflow

    Given the current parameters and guidelines for businesses, it’s important to consider your cash flow in order to make an informed decision. Does projected revenue exceed the cost of operating with reduced customer capacity and additional operating expenses for things like PPE, screening, hazard pay, or liability insurance?

  • 4. Review your options for financial assistance through local, state, and federal sources

    1. Grants for businesses impacted by COVID-19 are available through the State of Montana. Here is the link to apply.
      1. The Montana Business Stabilization Grant provides up to $10,000 to support operating costs in order to retain existing small businesses, retain current employees or retain future business viability.
      2. The Montana Innovation Grant program provides up to $25,000 to help companies scale up, improve capabilities, or drive expanded distribution of products or services developed in response to COVID-19.
      3. Montana Food and Agriculture Adaptability Program Grants of up to $10,000 are available to food and agriculture businesses to help increase community resilience, create additional economic activity and bolster food security.
    2. Financial assistance specific to your industry or location may be available. MEP recommends getting in touch with your trade association or industry advocate group to ask about industry-specific assistance. The Missoula Downtown Partnership is launching a small grant program for downtown businesses, you can apply here.
    3. You can apply directly to the Small Business Administration for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). Here is a direct link to the application.
      The Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL) can provide up to $2 million of financial assistance (actual loan amounts are based on amount of economic injury) to small businesses or non-profit organizations that suffer substantial economic injury as a result of COVID-19.Applying for an EIDL loan qualifies your business for a loan advance of up to $10,000. The SBA hopes to fund the advance to a business’ bank account within three days of application. This advance does not need to be repaid as long as it is used for qualifying expenses. Applications for the EIDL program are processed first come, first served. You will be contacted by an SBA loan officer to discuss your application, hopefully within 2-3 weeks. The maximum loan amount is $2 million with a 30-year term and rate of 3.75% (2.75% for non-profits).
    4. You can work with your local bank or credit union to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) through the Small Business Administration. This program is designed to cover operating costs so that you can keep more employees on your payroll or quickly rehire them. Call your bank or credit union to apply.
    5. Talk with your lender, your attorney, and your tax advisor to determine how to use the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan, Paycheck Protection Program, and the tax provisions created by the CARES act for maximum benefit. You cannot apply for multiple financing to cover the same things — no double dipping — but you may be eligible to receive loans from both programs to cover different things. Also, businesses receiving PPP funding become ineligible to receive the Employee Retention Tax Credit or deferral of payroll tax payments created by the CARES Act.

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