Pulling together when faced with challenges is nothing new to Mississippians. We know it’s imperative that we share knowledge and resources to help everyone get through these uncertain times. It’s why we created this hub of resources for businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, including information on the benefits made available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
We’ve weathered many storms, and together, we’ll weather this one too.
“Back to Business Mississippi” Grant Program
Mississippi Development Authority is now accepting applications for the Back To Business Mississippi Grant Program.
On May 20, Governor Tate Reeves signed a senate bill (SB2772) into law establishing the Back to Business Mississippi Grant Program. The grant program will be used to help businesses in Mississippi with 50 or fewer employees recover from the economic impact of COVID-19, including operating expenses and salaries. Companies meeting the eligibility requirements could receive grants ranging from $1,500 to $25,000.
On May 29, the Governor announced that Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) had set up a website, which is now collecting Back To Business Mississippi grant applications. Learn more about the eligibility requirements, review frequently asked questions and submit applications by visiting the site https://www.backtobusinessms.org/.
Mississippi Businesses Urged to Apply for PPP Now
The Mississippi Bankers Association (MBA) urges small businesses that have not already applied for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to contact their banks now, as the Small Business Administration (SBA) is allowing banks to submit more loans for approval. Mississippi’s bankers are working around the clock to ensure that Mississippi businesses are able to maximize the state’s participation in this critical program.
Mississippi banks commend Congress for passing legislation last week that added more than $300 billion in additional funding to the PPP funds. The original $350 billion in PPP funding authorized by the passage of the CARES Act and administered by banks and other lenders through the Small Business Administration (SBA) funded more than one million loans to small businesses across the country, but funding quickly ran out within 13 days of implementation on April 16. As of data provided by the SBA on April 16, Mississippi banks have helped process a total of 20,748 loans valued at $2.48 billion to Mississippi small businesses through this program – some analysts believe this covered roughly 70% of the eligible payroll in the state.
This second round of funding opened to a difficult and fretful start on Monday with the SBA’s loan application upload system experiencing significant issues. After an unsuccessful Monday, the system started operating more smoothly Tuesday, and $52 billion in approved applications had been pushed through by 1 p.m. Tuesday. The funding is expected to run out even more quickly than the initial appropriation.
Small Business Assistance Resources
Provisions in the CARES Act include the Paycheck Protection Program, economic injury disaster loans and small business debt relief for existing Small Business Administration loans. A summary of these programs is available through Congress’ The Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act and a FAQ regarding the Payment Protection program can be found here.
SBA Program Comparison – America’s SBDC has created a new spreadsheet which compares all of the currently available SBA programs, including the EIDL (Economic Injury) and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). You can access it here.
Due to the cap in funding, small businesses are encouraged to begin preparation now for the Paycheck Protection Program application. Small businesses and sole proprietorships began applying April 3, and independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply starting April 10.
The Paycheck Protection Program specifies allowable uses of the loan including payroll, mortgage, rent and utility payments. Utility payments mean payment for a service for electricity, gas, telephone, water or internet service, for which service began before February 15, 2020.
- U.S. Treasury Department’s Paycheck Protection Program information sheet for Borrowers
- U.S. Treasury Department’s Paycheck Protection Program information sheet for Lenders
If you’re applying for financial assistance, you will be asked to provide a copy of your most recent utility bill. You can obtain a copy of your recent bill by logging into myEntergy. If you don’t have an account through this platform, click here to register (Entergy account number needed). If you have trouble registering, need your account number or need additional assistance, call 1-800-ENTERGY (1-800-368-3749) and an agent will assist you with the registration process or obtaining a mailed copy of your bill.
Employers and employees may also be interested to know that the U.S. Department of Labor recently provided additional guidance regarding paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave benefits under the Families First Coronavirus Act. And as it relates to filing income taxes, the federal government has extended the filing deadline to July 15 and Mississippi extended the filing deadline to May 15. If the taxpayer is owed a refund, filing earlier than July 15 will allow the taxpayer to obtain the refund sooner. In Mississippi, in particular, withholding tax payments of employers that would be due April 15 are extended to May 15. The state extension does not apply to Sales Tax, Use Tax or and other tax types.
Additional national and local resources include:
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- U.S. Small Business Administration
- U.S. Small Business Administration - Application
- Society for Human Resource Management
- Rural Business Development Grants
- Facebook Small Business Grants Program
- US Senator Roger Wicker
- US Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith
- US Congressman Bennie Thompson
- US Congressman Michael Guest
- US Congressman Trent Kelly
State and Local Resources
- Delta Regional Authority
- Mississippi Bankers Association
- Mississippi Department of Employment Security
- Mississippi Development Authority
- Mississippi Emergency Management Agency
- Mississippi Manufacturers Association
- State of Mississippi
Although there is a lot of helpful information and resources available, remain aware and don’t fall victim to scams. In this graphic, the U.S. Office of Inspector General provides several tips on avoiding grant fraud, loan fraud or phishing.
Economic Development Organizations Getting Creative
As they always do, our local economic development and professional organizations have risen to the challenge and have gotten creative to reach small businesses in need. For example, several have either hosted or scheduled webinars and conference calls that include federal and state agency leaders, accountants, lawyers and tax experts sharing tips and tools on navigating through the pandemic.
Reach out to your local Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development organization to keep updated on locally hosted web events and visit the Mississippi Economic Council and Mississippi Economic Development Council.