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COVID-19 Business Resources
Back to Business Program

The COVID-19 global pandemic has resulted in unprecedented challenges in the United States, and small businesses are being hit particularly hard. Back to Business, a new community business program from Thrive Economic Development (ThriveED) and the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at UW-Whitewater assists small businesses in Jefferson and Dodge counties as they look for ways to stay afloat during these turbulent times.

Learn more about the Back to Business program, and complete an intake form to get assistance for your business.


Additional Resources and Support

In these unprecedented times, Thrive Economic Development will work hard to ensure that businesses in our two-county region have access to the information and resources they need.

Guidelines and Resources for Reopening

Blueprint for Reopening Jefferson County

Reopen Guidelines developed by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
The WEDC has developed guidelines with input from national and state health and industry experts for a variety of industries. They will continue to add industries, so we encourage you to check the site often if your industry is not listed.

Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) Health and Safety Toolkit

MMAC and Medical College of Wisconsin Poster for Businesses

Self-Certification for Best Practices
The guidelines developed by the WEDC represent best practices for a safe reopening for a variety of industries. They are guidelines, not laws. You may want to promote that your business is following the practices set forth in the WEDC guidelines. We have created a self-certification form for businesses to download and customize. Feel free to add your logo and branding, or drop it into another document. You can post the form at your business, or your website or anywhere else your customers will see it. Download the form here.

Grants & Loans for Businesses

We’re All In Small Business Grant 
Funded by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the We’re All In Small Business Grant Program will provide $2,500 to 30,000 Wisconsin small businesses to assist with the costs of business interruption or for health and safety improvements, wages and salaries, rent, mortgages and inventory. (Updated 6/15/20: The online grant application period is open now! It is open through 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, June 23. All applications received during the application period will be considered. There is a scoring system to determine recipients. Learn more and complete the application here.)

Download a summary of the We’re All In Small Business Grant here

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed by President Trump on March 27, 2020 to provide direct financial relief to businesses and employees. It includes items like loans for small businesses, changes to SBA loans, payments to individuals, expanded unemployment benefits, work share benefits, and paid leave changes.

Download a Guide to the CARES Act

A few important initiatives in the CARES Act include:

    • Paycheck Protection Program (part of the CARES Act)
      The program would provide cash-flow assistance through 100 percent federally guaranteed loans to employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency. If employers maintain their payroll, the loans would be forgiven, which would help workers remain employed, as well as help affected small businesses and our economy snap-back quicker after the crisis. PPP has a host of attractive features, such as forgiveness of up to 8 weeks of payroll based on employee retention and salary levels, no SBA fees, and at least six months of deferral with maximum deferrals of up to a year. Small businesses and other eligible entities will be able to apply if they were harmed by COVID-19 between February 15, 2020 and June 30, 2020. This program would be retroactive to February 15, 2020, in order to help bring workers who may have already been laid off back onto payrolls. Loans are available through June 30, 2020. (Update on 6/17/20: The SBA has released new EZ and revised full forgiveness applications for the PPP. Read the press release about the EZ and revised forgiveness applications here. View and download the EZ Forgiveness Application here. View and download the Full Forgiveness Application here.)
    • Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program  (Update on 6/15/20: As of June 15, 2020, the SBA will begin accepting new Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance applications from qualified small businesses and U.S. agricultural businesses. Learn more and apply here. Read the press release here. Please note, if you applied for an EIDL before Monday, March 30, you must re-submit your application through the new and improved application portal to be eligible for the EIDL up-to-$10,000 advance. This change would be regardless if the application has been approved, denied or pending. If you are wondering about the status of your application, contact the SBA.
      SBA’s EIDL program offers long-term, low interest assistance for a small business or non-profit.  These loans can provide vital economic support to help alleviate temporary loss of revenue.  EIDL assistance can be used to cover payroll and inventory, pay debt or fund other expenses.
    • Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance  (Please see note above for updates on this program)
      In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are able to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. This advance is designed to provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. This loan advance will not have to be repaid. Recipients do not have to be approved for a loan in order to receive the advance, but the amount of the loan advance will be deducted from total loan eligibility. Applicants who have already submitted their applications will continue to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Kiva Loans
Kiva is an international nonprofit with a mission to expand financial access to help underserved communities thrive. Kiva lenders have shown their commitment to providing financial assistance to all by making 0% interest loans to entrepreneurs in the U.S. on for the last 10 years. In today’s difficult circumstances, we’d like to make it as easy and impactful as possible for small businesses in the U.S. to have access to affordable capital on the Kiva platform—capital that may be the difference between shutting down and keeping their doors open.

COVID-19 Small Business Impact Grant
The Ethnic & Diverse Business Coalition (EDBC) is a coalition of 14 ethnic and diverse chambers of commerce and partner organizations that serve the State of Wisconsin. This grant application is to assist small ethnic and diverse businesses of any industry that are a business member in of one of our coalition members during the COVID-19 pandemic. Before filling out this application, please note that you MUST be a member in good standing with one of our member Chambers of Commerce.

Unemployment | Wage and Hour Information

Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division
The Wage and Hour Division provides information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to influenza, pandemics, or other public health emergencies, and their effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Unemployment Insurance
The Wisconsin DWD has compiled a list of frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 Coronavirus and Wisconsin Unemployment Benefits.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
PUA is a new temporary federal program that provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals who are not eligible for regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) such as:

  • Individuals who are self-employed.
  • Certain independent contractors.
  • Individuals with limited recent work history.
  • Other workers not covered by Regular UI

Wisconsin plans to start taking PUA applications the week of April 21, 2020. To find out if you are covered by PUA, review these COVID-19 Scenarios.

Workplace Safety/Employer Guidance

Added 4/9/2020 – Interim Guidance for Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19
To ensure continuity of operations of essential functions, CDC advises that critical infrastructure workers may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to COVID-19, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community.

Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
This interim guidance is based on what is currently known about the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The outbreak first started in China, but the virus continues to spread internationally and in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will update this interim guidance as additional information becomes available.

ThriveED Q&A for Employers

OSHA Standards for COVID-19
A page on the OSHA website highlighting OSHA standards and directives (instructions for compliance officers) and other related information that may apply to worker exposure to novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention
This interim guidance is based on what is currently known about the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will update this interim guidance as needed and as additional information becomes available.

Legislation and Government Directives, including Safer at Home order and Re-Open Guidelines

Emergency Order #36: Retail Can Offer Limited In-Person Shopping (announced May 11, 2020)
Emergency Order #36 allows all standalone or strip-mall based retail stores to offer in-person shopping for up to five customers at a time while maintaining required social distancing practices. Additionally, the Emergency Order signed today allows drive-in theaters to operate with some restrictions. All businesses must continue to follow all safety precautions and guidelines as outlined in the Safer at Home order.
Read the press release here
Read Emergency Order #36 here
Safer at Home FAQ document (updated 5/11/20)

Best Practices and Safety Guidelines for Wisconsin Businesses (announced May 8, 2020)
Businesses looking to keep workers, customers and families safe while “turning the dial” toward reopening can now draw on a series of publications to keep them informed of best practices and safety tips. The brochures include general guidelines for all businesses to follow as well as industry-specific advice, such as for restaurants, retailers, manufacturers, professional offices, farmers, manufacturers, builders, hotel and motel operators, barbers, personal care services and other fields.
Read the entire press release here
View the guides on the WEDC website

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed by President Trump on March 27, 2020 to provide direct financial relief to businesses and employees. It includes items like loans for small businesses, changes to SBA loans, payments to individuals, expanded unemployment benefits, work share benefits, and paid leave changes.
WMC CARES Act Summary
Business-Related Tax Provisions in the CARES Act
Small Business Owners Guide to the CARES Act

Safer at Home Goes into Effect March 25 for Wisconsin
View the press release here
View the order here
What is considered an essential business or operation? Learn more here.

Treasury and IRS Issue Guidance on Deferring Tax Payments Due to COVID-19 Outbreak
On March 18, the U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued guidance allowing all individual and other non-corporate tax filers to defer up to $1 million of federal income tax (including self-employment tax) payments due on April 15, 2020, until July 15, 2020, without penalties or interest. Read the press release here.

COVID-19 Legislative Updates from Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce

Other Resources

America’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) – Small Business Resources

Wisconsin State Legislature District Maps
Your local elected officials can be a resource during this time. If you have questions and need clarification about the Safer at Home order as it relates to your business, or if you have an opinion to share about business closures and the timeline for businesses re-opening, contact your state representatives. View the district map here to find your local representatives and their contact information.

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