Businesses

OEI Small Business COVID-19 Initiative Desk Aid

Information regarding COVID-19 is constantly changing so make sure to get the most up-to-date information at the following helpful TWC links:

Overview:

UNEMPLOYMENT:

1Q:         As a small business employer, is there a way to avoid mass layoffs?       

1A:          Yes; the Shared Work Program provides Texas employers with an alternative to layoffs. TWC developed this voluntary program to help Texas employers and employees withstand a slowdown in business. Shared Work allows employers to:

  • Supplement their employees’ wages lost because of reduced work hours with partial unemployment benefits
  • Reduce normal weekly work hours for employees in an affected unit by at least 10 percent but not more than 40 percent; the reduction must affect at least 10 percent of the employees in that unit
  • Employees who qualify will receive both wages and Shared Work unemployment benefits.

For more information, please refer to the link below:

https://www.twc.texas.gov/businesses/shared-work

2Q:         Is there an option to allow for multiple Unemployment Benefits claims to be submitted?

2A:          Yes; the Mass Claims Service streamlines the unemployment benefit claims process for employers faced with either

temporary or permanent layoffs. During COVID – 19 the requirement to submit Mass Claims Request at least five

days prior to the planned layoff has been waived.

For more information, please visit:

https://twc.texas.gov/businesses/mass-claims-unemployment-benefits

3Q:         Are there any waivers regarding Unemployment Insurance?

3A:          Yes; Governor Abbott granted the Texas Workforce Commission’s request to suspend the one-week waiting period, allowing workers in Texas to receive benefits immediately after their unemployment benefit applications are approved. In addition, work search requirements have been waived for employees.

Employers can receive more information online at http://ui.texasworkforce.org, or by calling the Tele-Center at 800-939-6631.

4Q:         Can you explain the other provisions included in the CARES ACT?

4A:          The CARES Act also includes the following:

                Unemployment Insurant Provisions:

  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
    • this temporary program provides payment to those not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits (self-employed, independent contractors, those with limited work history, and others) who are unable to work as a direct result of the coronavirus public health emergency through December 31, 2020.
  • Emergency Unemployment Relief for Governmental Entities and Nonprofit Organizations
    • provides payment to states to reimburse nonprofits, government agencies, and Indian tribes for half of the costs they incur through December 31, 2020 to pay unemployment benefits.
  • Emergency Increase in Unemployment Compensation Benefits –
    • provides an additional $600 per week payment to each recipient of unemployment insurance or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for up to four months.
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation –
    • provides an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits through December 31, 2020 to help those who remain unemployed after weeks of state unemployment benefits are no longer available.

5Q:         When will the $600 per week be available for Texans on unemployment?

5A:          TWC’s goal is to begin issuing payments the week of April 13th throughout April and continuing. An individual may be eligible for $600 a week in federal unemployment benefits available for W2 covered employees; self-employed workers and independent contractors.  The application process is the same.

  • TAXES:

6Q:         Have provisions been included that affect taxes?

6A:          Yes, both at the State and Federal levels.  The CARES Act includes the delay of payment of employer payroll taxes. The provision allows employers and self-employed individuals to defer payment of the employer share of the Social Security tax they otherwise are responsible for paying to the federal government with respect to their employees.

                At the State level, the following are in affect:

  • The date to file and pay the 2020 Texas franchise tax reports has been extended to July 15, 2020 to be consistent with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
  • Short term payment agreements and possible waivers of penalties and interest for businesses struggling to pay state sales taxes.
  • Temporary suspension of the 60-day deadline for businesses contesting audit results

For more information, please refer to the following link: https://comptroller.texas.gov/about/emergency/

7Q:         Can you expand on the payroll tax credits?

7A:          Included in the Small Business Tax Provisions is a refundable payroll tax credit for 50 percent of wages paid by eligible employers to certain employees during the COVID-19 crisis. This is available to employers, including non-profits, whose operation have been fully or partially suspended as a result of a government order limiting commerce, travel or group meetings. This provision is also provided to employers who have experienced a greater than 50 percent reduction in quarterly receipts, measured on a year-over-year basis. Wages of employees who are furloughed or face reduced hours as a result of their employer’s closure or economic hardship are eligible for the credit.

  • SBA FUNDING PROGRAMS:

8Q:         Are there resources available to assist in covering the cost of retaining employees?

8A:          Yes; the passage of the CARES ACT enabled the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). This program offers loans of up to $10 million for payroll, mortgage, rent, utilities, etc. The federal government will forgive payments if the funds are used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities.

  • PPP Loan Period – February 15, 2020 to June 30,2020
  • Business in operation as of February 15, 2020
  • Business must have been harmed by COVID-19 between February 15th through June 30, 2020
  • Cash Flow Protection during emergency through 100 Percent federally guarantee loans to employers
  • If payroll maintained during emergency loans will be forgiven

Please use the following link to find an approved vendor:

https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program-ppp

9Q:         Are there loans or grants available to assist my small business?

9A:          SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) offer up to $2 million in assistance and can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.  After submission of the SBA application, $10,000 emergency advance can be requested.

For more information: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance

10Q:       Do I qualify for the Small Business Debt Relief Program?

10A:       This program will provide immediate relief to small businesses with non-disaster SBA loans, in particular 7(a), 504, and microloans. Under it, SBA will cover all loan payments on these SBA loans, including principal, interest, and fees, for six months.

                For more information: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/sba-debt-relief

11Q:       How can I find my local SBA office?

11A:       Please visit the following link to find your local SBA office: https://www.sba.gov/local-assistance/find/?type=SBA%20District%20Office&pageNumber=1

  • TRAINING AND COUNSELING:

12Q:       Are there local resources with TWC who can assist me?

12A:       Yes; Texas contains 28 Workforce Development Boards (WDB’s). Workforce Solutions Offices services include employer services, job seeker services, and childcare assistance. To find the nearest Workforce Solutions Office, please refer to the link below:

https://www.twc.texas.gov/partners/workforce-development-boards-websites

13Q:       Where can I receive small business training and counseling?

13A:       There are a variety of local organizations that can assist in training and counseling:

  • Small Business Development Centers (SBDC)
  • Women’s Business Centers (WBC)
  • SCORE
  • Minority Business Development Agency’s Business Centers (MBDCs)

With the passage of the CARES Act, these resource partners will have additional funding and better support for small businesses regarding COVID-19. Counseling is free and most training is low-cost (SCORE is always free).

14Q:       Does Texas have a program that covers the cost of training or upskilling?

14A:       Yes; the Texas Workforce Commission offers the Skills for Small Business Grant Program. This allows small businesses to train their workforce without the financial burden.

  • Targets private for-profit businesses that employs at least 1 & not more than 99
  • The program pays tuition & fees up to $1,800 for new employees; up to $900 for existing employees, per 12-month period
  • Eligible employees must be full-time, W-2
  • Training providers include public community or technical colleges, or TEEX

For more information, please email Skillsforsmallbusiness@TWC.state.tx.us

  • HELPFUL LINKS:

Please visit the TWC COVID-19 Small Business Initiatives website: https://twc.texas.gov/news/covid-19-resources-small-businesses

For all Small Business COVID-19 related questions, please email SmallBizC19@twc.state.tx.us

Texas Workforce Commission Employers Page: https://twc.texas.gov/news/covid-19-resources-employers
Texas SBDC: https://sbdctexas.org/

US Chamber of Commerce: https://www.uschamber.com/report/covid-19-emergency-loans-small-business-guide

SBA: https://www.sba.gov/

US Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurshiphttps://www.sbc.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/2/9/29fc1ae7-879a-4de0-97d5-ab0a0cb558c8/1BC9E5AB74965E686FC6EBC019EC358F.the-small-business-owner-s-guide-to-the-cares-act-final-.pdf

Social Media:

Facebook: @Texasworkforcecommission

Twitter: @Txworkforce

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/texas-workforce-commission/

Commissioner Aaron Demerson’ s Employer Hotline: 1-800-832-9394

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For Immediate Distribution  |  April 16, 2020  |  (512) 463-1826
Governor Abbott Launches Small Business Webinar Series AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott’s Office of Economic Development and Tourism (EDT) yesterday launched the Governor’s Small Business Webinar Series to provide Texas small business owners and entrepreneurs with timely, relevant, and actionable information on COVID-19 recovery resources. The first webinar, specifically tailored to Central Texas, was attended by over 3,000 Texans. The Webinar Series takes the place of the Governor’s Small Business Series events that were postponed due to COVID-19.   The Governor’s Small Business Webinar Series for Central Texas was held in partnership with the Greater San Marcos Partnership, Greater Waco Chamber and Kerr Economic Development Corporation. Additional regional webinars will be held throughout the months of April and May and announced on the EDT website in the coming days. The Governor’s Small Business Webinar Series covers a variety of resources available including information on programs offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration that may be of assistance to Texas businesses impacted by COVID-19. Businesses can also connect with local experts and support systems. Featured speakers include area Small Business Development Centers and other resource providers based on the needs of the communities covered in each webinar. The Governor’s Small Business Webinar Series is held in collaboration with local economic development organizations and supported through a partnership with the Texas Workforce Commission.   Yesterday’s webinar is available for playback here.

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Businesses may begin to file Friday, April 3, 2020 for Paycheck Protection Program loans/grants.

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4/2/2020- New Stay Home to Save Lives Order, extended through 11.59 p.m., April 30, 2020, unless the local disaster for public health emergency is no longer in effect.  

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How can Fort Bend residents help each other?

  • Order takeout and/or delivery from your favorite restaurants
  • Stay informed and practice all safety precautions
  • Order online at your local retailers
  • Purchase gift cards at stores and restaurants online
  • Practice social distancing and support your neighbors with a phone call, video chat, or across the street conversation