On March 25, 2020, during the Buncombe County press conference, it was announced that a new fund was being created to assist individuals and businesses impacted by COVID-19. The name of the fund is One Buncombe Fund and the City of Asheville will participate. It was stated that further details will be announced at a press conference on Friday, March 27, 2020. You can read about the fund here.
Some of the details regarding the help for businesses are as follows.
● Funds for small businesses impacted by COVID-19 will be provided through loans of up to
$10,000 with an initial 6-month period of no payments of any kind.
● Interest will accrue at 5.5% during that period, but this is not paid, and rolls up into the loan at the end of the 6-month period.
● Loans will be designed to provide low cost “bridge funding” to help businesses stay open and limit job losses until businesses can apply for longer term disaster funding from SBA or other sources.
The fund will contract with a third party to administer this business program.
Buncombe County Information
Buncombe County issued a Local State of Emergency on March 12, 2020. On March 25, 2020, a Supplemental Declaration to the Local State of Emergency was ordered, and it can be found here. Pursuant to the Supplemental Declaration, all Buncombe County residents are directed to “Stay Home – Stay Safe” and to limit movements outside of their homes that are not deemed essential. This declaration is valid through Thursday, April 9, 2020, at 6 a.m., but will be regularly reviewed and evaluated which may lead to revision, amendment or extension. The County issued an Interpretive Guidance to the Supplemental Declaration to assist the public’s understanding and interpretation of the Supplemental Declaration.
The importance to business owners is that only businesses deemed to be essential are permitted to remain open.
North Carolina Information
Most of the NC actions and its impact on Asheville businesses has been supplanted by the Supplemental Declaration ordered on March 25, and explained above.
The Senate passed H.R. 748, the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” or otherwise known as the “CARES Act.” We have all 883 pages of it here for your reading pleasure. Forbes Magazine highlights the following components for small businesses: The bill would expand the eligibility for small businesses (those under 500 employees) to receive a loan of up to $10 million under the Small Business Act. Loans can be used for payroll as well as paid sick, medical, or family leave, costs related to the continuation of group health care benefits, mortgage payments and rent, utilities, and other debts. Loans could also be extended to sole proprietors, independent contractors and self-employed persons. No collateral would be required, nor any personal guarantee. Loans are eligible for forgiveness if they meet specific criteria. Finally, there is no need to provide tax returns to apply for a loan.
Remember that this is NOT yet law, it must still be passed in the House of Representatives (the “House”). As of March 26, 2020, 1:30 pm, the House has yet to debate or vote. It has been reported that the House will begin its formal consideration at 11 am on Friday, March 27, 2020. Once the any reconciliation between the House and Senate is completed and a law is established, we will take a deep dive into the verbosity so you don’t have to torture yourself. Look for it on our blog page.
Letter To Governors – President Trump sent a letter to all State Governors. In the letter, he outlines a concept whereby Counties across the Country are assigned a risk level (low, medium and high) based upon test result data and that will influence the social distancing and other mitigation measures imposed in each County. There is no explanation as to how the risk levels will be determined. Further, it must be remembered that the USA is a republic and, as such, mitigation measures would continue to be determined by the Governor of each State.
CARES Act Passes – The House passed the CARES Act by way of a voice vote. Now it goes to the president for his signature. Within a day or two, we will provide a detailed analysis of the law as it applies to small business.