Tennessee small businesses are now eligible for disaster assistance loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
Click HERE for information on the application process or APPLY through the SBA website.
The SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) authorizes up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees during the COVID-19 crisis. These loans are slated to be available by April 3. Learn more HERE or APPLY today.
Public health is a shared responsibility. Communities, businesses and individuals can and should take measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The CDC has advice on how families, schools and businesses can plan for and respond to the virus. The CDC has also issued travel information for those going abroad and have supplied FAQs to help travelers decide if they should cancel or postpone their plans.
For the business community specifically, the CDC has issued a guide for employers to respond to the virus. Recommendations include: actively encouraging sick employees to stay home, flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene.
The U.S. Chamber supports these CDC recommendations and urges state and local chambers, its members and the wider business community to adopt and implement these standards if they have not done so already. Based on information provided by the CDC, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation created two guides to help employers and employees prepare for and address the impacts of the Coronavirus:
We will continue to monitor the situation and keep our investors and the business community updated. At this time, all investor events are postponed. Attendees will be notified regarding status changes of individual meetings or programs.
City of Knoxville Information
Mayor Indya Kincannon issued an Executive Order Friday, March 20, 2020 to close restaurants, bars, gyms and commercial event venues amid growing concerns over COVID-19. The order will allow restaurants and bars to offer delivery and take-out service. This executive order will go into effect tonight at 8 p.m. and will remain in effect for 2 weeks. The executive order can be found HERE.
Large gatherings across the country are being put on hold as the number of cases continues to rise and the virus spreads to other states. WBIR Channel 10 has compiled a list of cancellations and closings in Knoxville and the East Tennessee region. Please refer to THIS list regularly for updates on regional cancellations and business closures.
In addition to responding to thousands of infectious disease cases annually, Knox County Health Department’s (KCHD) epidemiology and emergency response teams also routinely prepare for public health threats and will continue to protect the health and safety of people in Knox County. KCHD has launched a COVID-19 Public Information Line. The hotline number is 865-215-5555 or individuals may call toll-free at 888-288-6022. The information line will be available from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday.
Call volume is expected to be high. Callers are urged to be patient if they receive a busy signal and try their call at a later time. People with concerns about their health should contact their healthcare providers.
To further combat the spread of COVID-19, the Knox County Health Department has issued a Safer at Home Order — directing all residents of Knox County stay inside their homes, and immediately limit all movement outside of their homes beyond what is absolutely necessary to take care of essential needs. You can learn more information HERE.
Preparing Your Organization
Businesses, no matter their size, can significantly influence our community’s readiness, awareness, resources and engagement against the spread of the COVID-19. This begins with organizational preparedness, including risk management teams and contingency plans.
The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Upon a request received from a state’s or territory’s Governor, SBA will issue under its own authority, as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by the President, an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration. Learn More.
The Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) is announcing relief provisions for exporters and financial institutions located throughout the United States that may have been affected by COVID-19. If you have encountered any shipment problems, payment difficulties, liquidity problems or other business interruptions that require other flexible arrangements from EXIM in addition to the ones outlined HERE, EXIM stands ready to work with you in partnership to overcome these issues. Learn More.
Resilience in a Box is based on best practices and designed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with UPS, to educate newcomers on business resilience. Small businesses are both highly vulnerable and can be without adequate resources to focus on preparedness actions. These resources will guide companies toward addressing preparedness issues while building in flexibility to handle potential business interruptions. Learn More.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocated $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn. Known as the Paycheck Protection Program, the initiative provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses. You can learn more information about assistance HERE. (Español)
Individuals Seeking Employment
If you are seeking an immediate opportunity, please visit THIS link for a list of area employers who are currently hiring. You may also want to view resources offered by the Tennessee Labor & Workforce Department.
We also want to prepare for when normal operations resume. And they will. If you have experienced a layoff and will be looking for work, please fill out our Employee Hiring Form. The Chamber will supply the list to businesses on request when they begin to rehire.
TN Department of Labor
When a Tennessee business closes to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and temporarily has to lay off employees, those workers can collect unemployment benefits if they meet other eligibility requirements. www.tn.gov/workforce now has separate sections for employers, employees, frequently asked questions about unemployment, and for the latest changes at American Job Centers.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services, along with the CDC, recommends that companies:
Ensure that sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of these policies.
Speak with vendors that provide contract or temporary employees about the importance of sick employees staying home and encourage them to develop non-punitive leave policies.
Do not require a health care provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness or to return to work, as health care provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely way.
Employers should maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member. Employers should be aware that more employees may need to stay at home to care for sick children or other sick family members than is usual.
According to OSHA, 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. Learn more here.
Manufacturers across the country are stepping up to the plate to help their communities, and Tennessee is no exception. If you are interested in producing and contributing PPE & medical devices to help protect people from COVID-19, please visit the University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services’s “How You Can Help” page which includes links to resources for manufacturers who are able to assist with production needs and a critical supply survey.