The coronavirus pandemic is a serious health concern. As we all learn about the scale and scope of the virus, small businesses (and every business) unfortunately know that the best health solutions run counter to ideal economic outcomes. Between social distancing and WFH solutions to local or state-wide shutdowns and essential businesses, every part of the country is seeing a reduction in economic activity. However, recent corporate and governmental actions aim to bolster local companies, which are typically the lifeblood of any community. As a result, some small business grants picked up amid the coronavirus pandemic.
From the U.S. stimulus package to Google and Facebook, small business grants help companies connect with their customers and maintain payroll (to keep local economies from shuttering).
Google AdWords Grant Program
Google provides the lifeblood of many small businesses. After all, between the Google suite and AdWords, many SMBs rely on free and paid Google products to help manage their operations and advertise to clients. Fortunately, Google recently announced steps to help local companies, NGOs and health organizations around the world.
“As the coronavirus outbreak continues to worsen around the world, it’s taking a devastating toll on lives and communities. To help address some of these challenges, today we’re announcing a new $800+ million commitment to support small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), health organizations and governments, and health workers on the frontline of this global pandemic.”
These steps include various financial commitments, which act as small business grants, such as:
- $250 million in ad grants to help the World Health Organization (WHO) and over 100 other government agencies around the globe provide critical information on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other measures to help local communities.
- $20 million in ad grants to community financial institutions and NGOs specifically to run public service announcements on relief funds and other resources for SMBs.
- $200 million investment fund supporting NGOs and financial institutions around the world to help provide small businesses with access to capital.
- $340 million in Google Ads credits available to all SMBs with active accounts over the past year.
- $20 million in Google Cloud credits for academic institutions and researchers to leverage our computing capabilities and infrastructure as they study potential therapies and vaccines, track critical data, and identify new ways to combat COVID-19.
- Direct financial support and expertise to help increase the production capacity for personal protective equipment (PPE) and lifesaving medical devices.
- Google increased the gift match Google offers every employee annually to $10,000 from $7,500. That means our employees can now give $20,000 to organizations in their communities.
As Alphabet CEO, Sundar Pichai noted in the announcement, “we’ll continue to help our communities—including our businesses, educators, researchers and nonprofits—to navigate the challenges ahead.”
Importantly, from an AdWords perspective, the Google Ads credits will seemingly function as a “small business grant” and appear in active accounts in the coming month. For small business owners, there are no submission requirements. To be eligible, companies must be active as of January 1, 2019 and advertising accounts will receive a notification when credits are applied. Additionally, ad credits should be eligible across the Google ecosystem, which includes Search, Display and YouTube.
For more information, Google provided a Q&A on the small business grant program. Additionally, Google updates the FAQs periodically, so feel free to check back for more information. For example, Google recently added eligibility criteria.
- Who is Eligible?
- How does the Credit Work?
“Each eligible customer will receive one ad credit. If an eligible customer advertises with multiple accounts, or multiple campaign types within an account, only one ad credit will be applied per customer.”
- When will Eligible Customers Receive the Ad Credit?
- How Much are the Ad Credits?
“The ad credit amount will vary by customer based on past Google Ads spend, and the country and currency where the business and Google Ads account is set up.”
Facebook Small Business Grant Program
Amid the growing concerns and realizations that the coronavirus will potentially devastate small businesses, Facebook reacted and introduced a grant program.
“We know that your business may be experiencing disruptions resulting from the global outbreak of COVID-19. We’ve heard that a little financial support can go a long way, so we are offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits to help during this challenging time.”
Ultimately, interested parties should sign up on the landing page to receive the most up-to-date information. However, Facebook shared the general parameters around the program, which will offer $100 million in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 small businesses around the globe. Presumably, most of the grants will be allocated towards ad credits, but Facebook does stipulate cash grants can be used for payroll and rent.
Finally, in addition to the grant program, which again, Facebook recommends interested companies sign up, the company launched a new business resources hub. Although the hub predominately highlights the ways that Facebook can help stay connected (via Groups), the hub also includes business recovery plans and quick action guides to plan for emergencies, along with some external links to help find the information needed to keep your business afloat during these trying times.
For example, the hub links to the following sites, which mainly help companies learn about the coronavirus and the available resources.
- SBA Emergency Preparedness Guide
- CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers
- Combating the Coronavirus, US Chamber of Commerce
- Information for Communities, Schools, and Businesses
- OHSA Resources for Workers and Employers on COVID-19
- Get Your Workplace Ready for COVID-19
U.S. Stimulus Small Business Loan Program
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was passed by the Senate and House of Representatives and signed into law. The CARES Act helps individuals and small businesses in light of the economic slowdown by providing “emergency assistance and health care response for individuals, families, and businesses affected by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.”
What does this mean to small businesses? Significantly, the CARES Act provides three primary financial programs that theoretically act as small business grants.
- Provides $350 billion in forgivable loans for small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program.
- Provides advances on SBA disaster loans that never have to be repaid.
- Forgives existing non-disaster SBA loan payments over the next six months.
For more details, then please refer to coronavirus.gov for official news and notes. However, to gage how any of these programs may be relevant for your needs, please find a high level overview.
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
As the name implies, the PPP helps small businesses continue to cover payroll obligations. Under the PPP, all eligible organizations can leverage the program to cover the cost of payroll and other eligible expenses for up to eight weeks.
Eligible businesses include small businesses, non-profits, veterans groups and tribal groups with less than 500 employees and interested parties should apply through their local banking institutions. Additionally, the PPP acts as a small business grant if companies adhere to the stipulations, which include:
- If you retain your full staff and payroll, all of your eligible expenses for up to eight weeks will be 100% forgiven.
- Loans of up to $10 million can be used to cover payroll, paid sick leave, insurance premiums, rent, utilities, and mortgage payments.
- Companies must complete the Paycheck Protection Program loan application form with the required documentation and submit the application to an approved lender that is available to process your application by June 30, 2020.
The PPP experienced some controversy due to the rollout process, but the initial tranche of $349 billion was quickly loaned out to eligible businesses. Although pundits may discuss the PPP’s ability to offer relief to small businesses, Congress approved an additional relief bill that allocates an additional $251 billion to the PPP. To address concerns, $60 billion is allocated to small banks and community development financial institutions that traditionally help underbanked urban and rural areas. Finally, another $60 billion was allocated to the Small Business Administration’s disaster loan program.
Small Business Administration Loan Forgiveness
As part of the CARES Act, the Small Business Association (SBA) announced certain loan forgiveness qualifications. For more details, please refer to SBA.gov, but generally, the forgiveness program is applicable to small business owners that participate in 7(a), Community Advantage, 504, or microloan programs.
Importantly, no action is required and applicable companies simply do not have to make any payments on existing SBA loans for the next six months.
Additionally, the SBA also offers the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), which was already available in all fifty states, Washington D.C., and territories. The EIDL helps small business owners continue operating under the coronavirus pandemic.
To learn more and apply follow this link, but essentially small businesses are eligible for up-front advance payment, which does not need to be repaid. Of note, the EIDL includes options for additional loans, which are offered at a long-term, low-interest rate.
Finally, the CARES Act will help many small and mid-sized businesses, but the loans and programs are not unlimited. As NPR reviewed the complete bill and shared the takeaways, interested and eligible parties should start prepping now and submit their applications sooner rather than later.
- Emergency grants: $10 billion for grants of up to $10,000 to provide emergency funds for small businesses to cover immediate operating costs.
- Forgivable loans: $350 billion allocated for the Small Business Administration to provide loans of up to $10 million per business.
- Relief for existing loans: $17 billion to cover six months of payments for small businesses already using SBA loans.