Gov. Kim Reynolds announced new assistance for the state’s small businesses during her Monday afternoon press conference on the state’s response to COVID-19.
“All the necessary actions we’ve taken at the state level [to limit the spread of the disease] have come with consequences for Iowans, including our small businesses,” the governor said.
Those actions have included mandating the closure of many businesses that serve the general public, and restricting the activities of others (such as requiring restaurants to stop offering dine-in service), in order to promote social distancing and limit the spread of COVID-19.
“On Saturday, we announced that the United States Small Business Administration had issued a disaster declaration for the entire state of Iowa,” Reynolds said. “The action allows Iowa small businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic to apply for low-interest support loans.”
“The SBA through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program can provide up to $2 million in loans at a very low interest [rate] for the term of up to 30 years.”
Information about applying for a loan can be found on the SBA’s website. Assistance with the application process is available through the the SBA disaster assistance customer service center, which is available via email or by calling 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339).
The governor also unveiled a three-part state effort to help small businesses.
“We’re make funding available for small grants to employers with two to 25 employees, and these grants will range from $5,000 to $25,000,” she said. “In addition, the Iowa Department of Revenue will automatically extend the sales and withholding tax deadlines for any business that gets a grant, and will consider an extension for any business that applies for a grant.”
Iowa Workforce Development will also allow any business with fewer than 50 employees to delay their unemployment tax payments for the first quarter of 2020 until July 31.
Speaking at the press conference, Iowa Economic Development Agency Director Debi Durham called the three-part state program “a stop-gap to keep doors open.”
“This is stop-gap [for] a very short period of time, until the resources from federal government begin to flow,” Durham said.
The director added that they hoped to know within 30 days what resources the federal government will make available to Iowa’s small businesses, and when those resources will reach the state.
“Hopefully we’ll know that sooner rather than later,” the governor added.
Durham also filled in some details regarding the program.
“To be eligible for a Small Business Relief Program grant, a business must be experiencing a disruption due to the pandemic, have employed between two and 25 people prior to March 17,” Durham explained.
Businesses will only have to fill out one application to be considered for both the grant and the deferment of the deadline for sales and withholding taxes. That application, along with more information about both the grant and the deferral program, will be available online at the Iowa Business Recovery Assistance page.
According to Durham, the online application process should go live at 8 a.m. on Tuesday.
The page also has information on the SBA disaster loan program. Durham called it “one-stop shopping” for the needs of small businesses effected by the pandemic.
Many of the questions at the press conference focused on whether the state is doing enough to limit the spread of COVID-19. The governor was asked more than once if it is time to move beyond simply encouraging people to stay home, and mandate it as other states have done.
Gov. Reynolds said she doesn’t believe that current data supports taking mandatory actions, but said all of the state’s attempts to limit the spread of the disease are constantly under review.
On Monday morning, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported that an additional 15 Iowans have tested positive for COVID-19.
• Allamakee County, 1 adult (18-40 years)
• Dubuque County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years)
• Hancock County, 2 older adults (61-80 years)
• Johnson County, 1 middle-aged adult (41-60 years), 2 older adults (61-80 years)
• Linn County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 1 middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
• Muscatine County, 1 middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
• Polk County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 1 middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
• Wapello County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
• Woodbury County, 1 middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
That brings the state’s total number of confirmed case to 105, including 35 in Johnson County and six in Linn County.