April 2, 2020 MEETING CANCELLED!
Small Business information from the City:
My name is Martha Obermiller, and I am the Revitalization Coordinator here in the Economic Development Department at the City of Fort Worth. I just wanted to pass along information and resources for East FW businesses and business owners in case they're in need of assistance or information during this COVID-19 outbreak. Please feel free to reach out if there is any additional assistance our office can offer. I hope to connect further with you post this outbreak.
All the best,
Strategic Development & Revitalization Coordinator
Economic Development Department
1150 S. Freeway Suite 106
Fort Worth, 76104
The City of Fort Worth is continuing to monitor and assess the impact to the business community from the Covid-19 pandemic. It is critical that Fort Worth's business community take all necessary steps to help the city reduce the spread of COVID-19.
In addition, there are a number of resources being pulled together at the local, state and federal levels to assist business owners during these challenging times. Along with a variety of resources offered by the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA), the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce has partnered with Fort Worth HR to provide tools and resources to local employers and Human Resource professionals as it pertains to their employees and COVID-19.
Common issues that small businesses may encounter
Capital access. Incidents can strain a small business's financial capacity to make payroll, maintain inventory and respond to market fluctuations (both sudden drops and surges in demand). Businesses should prepare by exploring and testing their capital access options so they have what they need when they need it. View the SBA's capital access resources.
Workforce capacity. Incidents have just as much impact on your workers as they do your clientele. It's critical to ensure that your workers have the ability to fulfill their duties while protected.
Inventory and supply chain shortfalls. While the possibility could be remote, it's a good preparedness measure to ensure you have either adequate supplies of inventory for a sustained period and/or diversify your distributor sources in the event that one supplier cannot meet an order request.
Facility remediation/clean-up costs. Depending on the incident, there may be a need to improve the protection of customers and staff by increasing the frequency and intensity that your business cleans surfaces that are frequently touched by occupants and visitors. Check your maintenance contracts and supplies of cleaning materials to ensure they can meet increases in demand.
Insurance coverage issues. Many businesses have business interruption insurance. Now is the time to contact your insurance agent to review your policy to understand precisely what you are and are not covered for in the event of an extended incident.
Changing market demand. Depending on the incident, there may be access controls or movement restrictions established which can impede your customers from reaching your business. Additionally, there may be concerns about public exposure to an incident, and customers may decide not to go to your business out of concern of exposing themselves to greater risk. SBA's resources partners and district offices have trained experts who can help craft a plan specific to your situation to help navigate any rapid changes in demand.
Marketing. It's critical to communicate openly with your customers about the status of your operations, what protective measures you've implemented, and how customers will be protected when they visit your business. Promotions may also help incentivize customers who may be reluctant to patronize your business.
Plan. As a business, bring your staff together and prepare a plan for what you will do if the incident worsens or improves. More information on how to create a business continuity plan is located further down this page. It's also helpful to conduct a tabletop exercise to simulate potential scenarios and how your business management and staff might respond to the hypothetical scenario in the exercise. For examples of tabletop exercises, visit FEMA's website.
SBA Products and assistance
The U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) can assist small businesses with accessing federal resources and navigating their own preparedness plans as described by the CDC's Guidance for Businesses and Employers.
SBA works with a number of local partners to counsel, mentor and train small businesses. The SBA has 68 District Offices, as well as support provided by its Resource Partners, such as SCORE offices, Women's Business Centers, Small Business Development Centers and Veterans Business Outreach Centers. Resource partners such as SCORE and the Tarrant Small Business Development Center can be reached at the Fort Worth Business Assistance Center, located at 1150 S. Freeway, Fort Worth, TX 76104.
Access to capital
SBA provides a number of loan resources for small businesses to utilize when operating their business. More information on loans or how to connect with a lender is available on the SBA website.
Access to lending partners
SBA has developed Lender Match, a free online referral tool that connects small businesses with participating SBA-approved lenders within 48 hours. Many of these programs can also be accessed at the Fort Worth Business Assistance Center.
7(a) program offers loan amounts up to $5,000,000 and is an all-inclusive loan program deployed by lending partners for eligible small businesses within the U.S. States and its territories. The uses of proceeds include: working capital; expansion/renovation; new construction; purchase of land or buildings; purchase of equipment, fixtures; lease-hold improvements; refinancing debt for compelling reasons; seasonal line of credit; inventory; or starting a business.
Express loan program provides loans up to $350,000 for no more than 7 years with an option to revolve. There is a turnaround time of 36 hours for approval or denial of a completed application. The uses of proceeds are the same as the standard 7(a) loan.
Community Advantage loan pilot program allows mission-based lenders to assist small businesses in underserved markets with a maximum loan size of $250,000. The uses of proceeds are the same as the standard 7(a) loan.
504 loan program is designed to foster economic development and job creation and/or retention. The eligible use of proceeds is limited to the acquisition or eligible refinance of fixed assets.
Microloan program involves making loans through nonprofit lending organizations to underserved markets. Authorized use of loan proceeds includes working capital, supplies, machinery & equipment, and fixtures (does not include real estate). The maximum loan amount is $50,000 with the average loan size of $14,000.
SBA Disaster Assistance Loans
The SBA is also providing targeted, low-interest disaster recovery loans to small businesses that are severely impacted by the situation surrounding COVID-19. These Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance, and can provide economic support to small businesses to help them overcome the temporary loss of revenue they might be experiencing.
Visit the SBA website to learn more about accessing COVID-19 Disaster Relief Lending.
Business continuity plans
Every business should have an emergency plan to ensure that its resources aren't overwhelmed in times of need, and that their customers will continue to receive products or services on time. Additionally, costs can add up if the business is forced to close for an undetermined amount of time.
Businesses who are prepared with a plan can resume service faster, and might be able to assist with community recovery.
Elements of a business continuity plan
Determine and document which staff, materials, procedures, and equipment are absolutely necessary to keep your business operating.
Identify and document your suppliers, shippers, and other important resources.
Define and document crisis management procedures and individual responsibilities in advance.
Plan for your building or brick-and-mortar location to be inaccessible.
Plan for payroll continuity.
Include employees from all levels in your planning, to ensure that it makes sense from all perspectives, from front-line to management.
Keep both digital and physical copies of important records – lease agreements, insurance policies, employee contract and identification information, bank account records, etc. – in multiple secure locations.
If your business is a multi-tenant building or complex, consider working with neighboring businesses to share resources and create a continuity plan that covers all of your needs.
Learn more about creating a continuity plan by viewing FEMA's Business Continuity Guide.
Director Economic Development
City of Fort Worth