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President's Update: Important Local Business Update on COVID-19 and 5 Things to Do Right Now

To: Full Chamber Membership
From: Aaron Nelson, Chamber President and CEO
Date: Monday, March 23, 2020
Subject: Important Local Business Update on COVID-19 and 5 Things to Do Right Now


Dear Chamber Members,
 
On Monday, Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 120 closing all schools to students through May 15 (8 more weeks).  The Order also closed all “entertainment facilities without a retail or dining component” (swimming pools, movie theaters, skating rinks, health clubs, yoga studios, and bowling alleys) as well as closed “personal care and grooming businesses” (hair salons, barber shops, nail salons, tattoo parlors, hair removal centers) effective March 25, at 5:00pm.  The Order also limited visitation at Long Term Care Facilities and banned mass gatherings of more than 50 people.
 
Update: New SBA Disaster Loans

On Friday, The Chamber hosted an "All Business Briefing" video conference featuring a US Small Business Administration (SBA) representative who walked nearly 400 local business owners and managers through the application process for the new SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan. Click here to review the slide decks, watch the video of the discussion, and to get your application started.  The program is designed to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue through low-interest loans with favorable terms (up to $2 million at 3.75% interest for small businesses and 2.75% for non-profits, repaid over 30 years).  The SBA and your Chamber strongly encourage ALL our members to apply now. 
 
5 (More) Things Businesses Should Do Right Now

Two weeks ago, I shared 7 things businesses should do right now. Here are 5 more things businesses should be doing now as the crisis evolves. 
 
  1. APPLY for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans ASAP (Information above)  Pro Tip: Use Internet Explorer as your browser and if the document uploader does not work (error), SBA hotline personnel advise to email the files to the email address provided.
  1. SEEK temporary suspension of payments on existing loans: If you have an existing SBA Loan (7A or other), call your loan officer to request a payment deferral.  Deferrals for between 90 and 120 days are being granted with little hassle.  Local lenders are also deferring non-SBA loans 60 days or longer, so please call and ask. 
  1. PLAN - Make plans now for operating under a future Shelter at Home order (now active in 5 states) and make plans to successfully operate if your place of business were ordered closed.  Though no order has been issued, think now about how to maintain operations if you could not return to your place of business. How would you get your mail (forward to a home address)? make deposits and pay bills? manage server maintenance and backups be done? communicate with customers and vendors? sustain working remotely? And what needs attention in the office fridge? etc.
  1. INNOVATE – In this crisis, please make time to think.  How will your organization adapt to succeed?  This does not need to be just one long business funeral.  Don’t be too busy drowning to learn new ways to swim.  Form a small group people (inside and outside your organization) to help work the problems and seek solutions. Try new things and prepare to pivot fast. There are opportunities for your organization in this crisis.  Seek and explore them.  Action is the antidote to anxiety.
  1. TRACK the proposed $2 trillion economic stimulus package and what might be in there to help support your business (we will seek/write/share what we learn when it is passed and signed)
 
Just a few more things…
  • A reminder to visit our COVID-19 page and to explore this  informal running document (updated regularly) with real-time answers to the most common questions we are hearing from local businesses including where can you access emergency capital, strategies for existing debt, unemployment benefits, and what happens if an employee gets COVID-19, etc? 
  • Annual Economic Outlook (now virtual) – Wednesday morning (March 25) at 8:30am, Dr. Michael Walden will give an economic outlook and answer questions on the future of our local, state and regional economy.  We have made this zoom video meeting free for you and your employees, but you must register to get the link to the meeting.  
  • Strengthen Connections Online: Navigating these challenging times is complicated and you shouldn’t do it alone. Connect with your fellow businesses through The Chamber's new online membership networks. Members are sharing real-time information, answering questions, and encouraging/supporting one another.  Join us on line. 
  • Look for a survey from us Tuesday. We want to hear from you: What do you need, what questions do you have, and what's working? Your updates and questions allow us to better serve you and our local business community. 
  • And Some Good News: Innovative solutions are happening everywhere – but today we highlight great things are happening in Carrboro.  Specifically, CarrboroUnited.  Local restaurants, farmers, and community members have created a central food hub that is efficiently and safely feeding Carrboro’s citizens and the local economy for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak (1000 meals were purchased and picked up on Saturday). Watch this great video to understand how it works and go here if you want to learn more and order food for the next pick-up. 
Thank you for your membership in The Chamber.  Your investment fuels our ability to serve and support you in this crisis and the coming recovery and we are grateful.
 
In partnership, 
 
Aaron