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- Disaster Assistance for Businesses
- Tax & Regulatory Changes
- Support for Affected Workers
- How to Support ALX Small Businesses
- Support, Questions, and Recommendations
- Official COVID-19 Resources
The Alexandria Economic Development Partnership and our partner organizations are committed to ensuring Alexandria’s business community has the latest information on the impacts of COVID-19 and resources to help businesses respond.
Alexandria Back to Business Information
ALX B2B Grants
The Alexandria Back to Business (B2B) grant program is a partnership of the AEDP and City of Alexandria that aims to accelerate the recovery and profitability of small businesses in Alexandria, Virginia that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is open to small businesses with 2-100 employees that demonstrate they have experienced revenue loss of 25% or more due directly to COVID-19 and will be able to recover and remain sustainable.
Business Reopening Information
As Northern Virginia, including the City of Alexandria, moves out of Phase Zero and into subsequent Phases of the Forward Virginia plan, AEDP will provide updated information on State and Local procedures and processes.
Disaster Assistance for Businesses
Alexandria Small Business Development Center
The Alexandria Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is here to help small businesses affected by the COVID-19 crisis. More information can be found at the SBDC’s COVID-19 webpage.
Commonwealth of Virginia (new – August 20)
Applications for the Rebuild VA Small Business Grants Program opened on August 10th. The program will distribute $70 million for small businesses and nonprofit organizations whose normal operations were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic; grants of up to $10,000 will be awarded to approximately 7,000 applicants to cover eligible expenses.
Businesses must also certify that they have not received federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) funds or other funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act- this means that recipients of the Alexandria B2B grant are not eligible.
Rebuild VA is administered by the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity (SBSD). Businesses and nonprofits must be in good standing, have annual gross revenues of no more than $1.5 million, and have no more than 25 employees. Eligible businesses and nonprofits include food and beverage establishments, non-essential retail, exercise and fitness, entertainment and public amusement, personal care and personal grooming services, and private campground and overnight summer camps. Businesses must also certify that they have not received federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) funds or other funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
The link to the application portal can be found on the Rebuild VA website, along with FAQs, recordings of webinars about the program, and other additional information.
U.S. Small Business Administration (Updated – April 27)
Alexandria businesses are eligible for disaster assistance through multiple programs administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration. A helpful summary and infographic highlight key programs available to small businesses. For assistance applying for these programs please visit the Alexandria SBDC’s COVID-19 webpage or email email@example.com.
- Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL): The SBA’s EIDL Program provides working capital in the form of low-interest federal loans for small businesses with 500 or fewer employees, sole proprietors, independent contractors, and private non-profits.
- NEW – loan amounts have been capped at $15,000. Businesses are now eligible for loans of up to 2 months of operating expenses not to exceed $15,000.
- Businesses can request an EIDL advance up to $10,000 ($1,000 per employee up to $10,000) which is 100% forgiven
- To apply visit the SBA’s online portal
- For assistance with applying to this program email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans (UPDATED): the application process for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans opened on April 3, 2020 for small businesses, sole proprietorships, and 501(c)(3) organizations. The PPP program provides 100% federally guaranteed loans for payroll costs (including benefits), interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities. The benefits of this program include:
- Keeping Employees on the Job – loans cover 2.5x average payroll for a period of 8 weeks
- Up to 100% Forgiveness – loans will be fully forgiven with approval if loans are used for payroll and other approved costs, and employee and compensation levels are maintained.
- Applicants should take the following action to apply for a PPP loan:
- Contact your bank to determine 3 key things:Verify that they are an SBA 7(a) lender – if they are not, find a lender that is 7(a) approved
- When they are accepting applications – some banks are delaying the opening for applications so confirm the date
- How the application process will work – each bank will have a unique process
- Complete the two-page application, and
- Submit your application to your bank or another SBA 7(a) lender in accordance with their application procedure.
- Contact your bank to determine 3 key things:Verify that they are an SBA 7(a) lender – if they are not, find a lender that is 7(a) approved
- The Treasury Department has provided a Borrowers Fact Sheet that contains detailed information on the program. We encourage you to also consult with your bank or lender to learn about their application process and deadlines.
- The PPP was temporarily suspended due to lack of funding; applications have reopened as of 4/27/20
- Small Business Debt Relief Program: This program will provide immediate relief to small businesses with non-disaster SBA loans, in particular 7(a), 504, and microloans. SBA will cover all loan payments on these SBA loans, including principal, interest, and fees, for six months. This relief will also be available to new borrowers who take out loans within six months of the President signing the bill into law.
- Employee Retention Payroll Tax Credit: provides a fully refundable 50% credit on the employer’s share of payroll taxes on wages of up to $10,000 per employee. We are still working to understand this tax credit and identify resources for businesses.
- Delayed Payment of Employer Tax Credit: defers payment of employer payroll taxes through the end of this year until December 31, 2021 (50% due) and December 31, 2022 (remaining 50% due). We are still working to understand this tax credit and identify resources for businesses.
- Dominion Energy Energy Assistance Programs (NEW August 31): For the first time, Dominion Energy has extended its bill assistance EnergyShare program with the new Small Business Relief Program. Starting Sept. 1, small businesses, nonprofits and houses of worship can apply to receive up to $1,000 from a $500,000 program. When the money runs out, it’s gone.
- Small Business Relief Program: For the first time small business customers can apply for EnergyShare funding in partnership with the Virginia Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Dominion contributed $500,000 to the Small Business Relief Program, which will offer one-time assistance of up to $1,000 toward unpaid Dominion Energy Virginia electric bills that may have accrued during the pandemic to small businesses, nonprofits, and houses of worship. Small business applications begin 9/1 and continue until the $500K is gone. The application can be found here. For more information, you can download the handout here.
U.S. Department of Labor
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the second federal stimulus bill) requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for COVID-19 related reasons. The Department of Labor has released guidance and FAQs to explain who is covered and for how long.
Facebook Small Business Grants Program for Black-Owned Businesses – 8/20/20
STATUS: Applications OPEN
The grants program is a part of Facebook’s overall commitment to invest $100 million this year in the Black community. In order to apply and receive a grant from Facebook, your business must meet the following criteria:
- Be a majority Black-owned for-profit business
- Be legally registered in a US State or the District of Columbia (US territories are excluded)
- Have between 1 and 50 employees
- Have been in business for over a year Have experienced challenges from COVID-19
- Plan to use the grant funds to support the business and community
Prior Facebook Small Business Grants Program applicants may re-apply, but prior grant recipients are ineligible. You do not have to use Facebook Inc. products to be eligible. The business owner must be at least 18 years old.
Applications for the Small Business Grants Program are now open for eligible businesses. Please review the Grant Program Terms and Conditions.
Virginia Visual Artist Relief Program – 6/16/20
STATUS: Applications CLOSED
Grant applications are now closed for the Virginia Artist Relief Fellowship Program, a brand-new special program announced by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, First Lady Pamela Northam, and Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) Director and CEO Alex Nyerges. This program was created to assist visual artists impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Forty (40) visual artists from the Commonwealth will be selected to each receive a $5,000 grant. To be eligible, applicants must live and work in Virginia, be 21 years of age or older, and derive a significant part of their income from their artwork including sales and lectures. Applications were accepted online between June 16, 2020 and July 10, 2020. Recipients will be notified of grand awards on July 24, 2020. Complete eligibility requirements and the application can be found on the museum’s website at www.VMFA.museum.
Red Backpack Fund for Women Entrepreneurs- 5/8/2020
STATUS: Applications OPEN for a defined time period each month
Since its inception, Spanx and The Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation have been dedicated to elevating and supporting women through entrepreneurship. Knowing the ripple effect that empowering women can have to strengthen neighborhoods, cities and countries, The Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation donated $5 million to support female entrepreneurs in the wake of COVID-19 and teamed up with GlobalGiving to establish The Red Backpack Fund. GlobalGiving will be overseeing the fund, making at least 1,000 grants of $5,000 each to female entrepreneurs in the U.S. to help alleviate the immediate needs and support the long-term recovery of those impacted by this crisis.
Salon & Spa Relief Fund- 5/8/2020
Status: Applications CLOSED
The Salon & Spa Relief Fund is a non-profit organization established to help salon and spa owners and their employees rebuild their lives and businesses. Since 2005, we have distributed over $200,000 in grants and 100% of the funds received are available to help people in the salon and spa industry. The Salon & Spa Relief Fund will be offering grants of: $2,500 for salons with revenues under $1M, and $5,000 for salons with revenues $1M or greater. Apply online here.
Booz Allen Foundation Innovation Fund- 5/4/2020
Status: Applications CLOSED
The Booz Allen Foundation has established a $1 million Innovation Fund to help nonprofits, entrepreneurs, thought leaders, innovators at colleges and universities, and startups and small businesses harness the power of data, technology, and diverse intellectual capital to improve COVID-19 relief efforts and make a difference. They want to surface the most innovative solutions and empower the individuals and organizations behind those solutions to drive their development and implementation.
The Foundation is accepted applications from April 30 through June 5, 2020. Nonprofits can apply for grants of up to $100,000. Individuals, teams of individuals, and eligible for-profit organizations can apply for microgrants of up to $10,000. Certain eligibility requirements apply. Through the Innovation Fund, the Foundation is specifically targeting solutions and projects that will build lasting community resilience through protecting vulnerable populations and frontline workers or providing for the safe return to work.
“Help Main Street” Businesses- 4/30/20
Status – OPEN to add individual business listings
@HelpMainStreet are a team of 100% volunteers from NY and CO sending 100% of proceeds to local businesses. Their solution: a “gift card” is actually the best no-interest loan, a “first principles” way to put cash into merchant bank accounts ASAP. After a bit of research, they determined there was no comprehensive destination or aggregator for merchant gift cards so they decided to build it.
If you’re a merchant with a gift card program, please jump on helpmainstreet.com and see if your venue is listed. If it isn’t, click the “Don’t see your favorite business?” button and fill out your details. You should see your venue listed shortly or someone will be back to you within 48 hours.
If you’re a merchant without a gift card program, you can set up your own gift card (at Square for example) and then do the above.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Grant Program- 4/16/2020
Status: Applications CLOSED “due to overwhelming demand”
The Save Small Business Fund is a grantmaking initiative offering $5,000 grants to provide short-term relief for small employers. To qualify a business must:
- Employ between 3 and 20 people
- Be located in an economically vulnerable community (program is limited to businesses in zip codes 22302, 22304, 22305, 22311 & 22312)
- Have been harmed financially by the COVID-19 pandemic
More details online here.
Virginia 30 Day Fund – 4/6/2020
Status: Applications OPEN
The non-profit Virginia 30 Day Fund provides forgivable loans of up to $3,000 for Virginia-based small businesses. The forgivable loan is intended to provide immediate financial assistance (within a maximum three days) to meet payroll, preserve healthcare coverage for employees and save jobs while they await recently approved federal funding. The Virginia 30 Day Fund is designed to be quick, easy, and free of red tape, as small business owners work to keep employees on board in the near term. More details online here.
National Restaurant Association Restaurant Employee Relief- 4/1/2020
Status: Applications CLOSED “due to an overwhelming response of 60,000 applications to date”
The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation began accepting applications for their Restaurant Employee Relief Fund on April 2, 2020. The fund provides grants to restaurant industry employees who have been adversely impacted by COVID-19, financially, whether through a decrease in wages or loss of employment. Applications opened 4/2/20, and are a one-time $500 grant disbursed directly to the applicant to be used to pay rent, transportation, utilities, student loans, child care, groceries or medical bills. Applicants have to provide a pay stub from a restaurant, dated before December 10, 2019 and one after March 10, 2020 and/or a letter of termination or unemployment claim. More information online here.
Natural Capital Investment Fund / Truist Small Business Grant Program- 3/27/20
Status: Applications CLOSED “due to overwhelming demand”
Truist Bank (formerly Suntrust and BB&T) are offering grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 through their Natural Capital Investment Fund. To be eligible, business must have: been in operation as of August 1, 2019, no more than 10 FTEs (300 hours/week) and no more than $1 million in annual gross revenue, and experienced at least a 15% reduction in sales due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Virginia businesses are eligible. Funds are limited and are available on a first come, first served basis. For more information, visit the Truist – NCIFund Grant Program website.
CARES Act Program Info and Q&A: Alexandria, VA Session
Tax & Regulatory Changes
Governor Northam Issues Stay at Home Order Until June 10th
Governor Northam issued a statewide Stay at Home order to protect the health and safety of Virginians and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Executive Order Fifty-Five took effect yesterday and will remain in place until June 10, 2020, unless amended or rescinded.
- The order directs all Virginians to stay home except in extremely limited circumstances. Individuals may leave their residence for allowable travel, including to seek medical attention, work, care for family or household members, obtain goods and services like groceries, prescriptions, and others as outlined in Executive Order Fifty-Three, and engage in outdoor activity with strict social distancing requirements.
- Essential businesses that were permitted to operate under Executive Order Fifty-Three, such as grocery stores and dining establishments with carryout options, may continue to operate under the Stay at Home Order.
- Previously, the Governor’s Office released a Frequently Asked Questions sheet to clarify Executive Order 53 which was signed earlier this week. The Governor’s order mandated the closure of certain non-essential businesses while restricting operations for businesses like restaurants, grocery stores, and other retail operations. The Virginia Department of Health has also posted FAQs to help business owners.
Virginia ABC Delivery/Take-Out of Mixed Drinks and License Renewal (NEW – April 10)
- Guidance for Delivery/Take-Out of Mixed Drinks: restaurants with mixed beverage licenses and distilleries with approved tasting rooms are now able to provide delivery services and take-out mixed drinks. This temporary privilege, effective April 10. Virginia ABC issued the restrictions and specifics regarding this policy that can be found here.
- Deferment of Annual ABC Licensee Renewal Fees: The Governor directed Virginia ABC to defer license renewal fees for 90 days from original expiration date for establishments with licenses expiring in March, April, May and June. Additional details can be found here.
Updated Guidance for Food Establishments (March 26)
The Virginia Department of Health released new Guidance for Food Establishments: Restrictions on Public Gatherings and Social Distancing. According to the guidance:
- To further mitigate the spread of this virus, effective March 24, 2020 at 11:59 PM food establishments are mandated to offer curbside takeout and delivery service only, or close to the public.
- The mandated closure of congregation areas in these facilities signals that gathering inside to pick up food is not permitted. State interpretation is that this means the facility employees should take the product outside for pick-up orders.
- Food service must be limited to service of food intended for off-premise consumption only, and seating of patrons on the premises (indoors or outdoors) is eliminated.
- Take-out orders should be delivered curbside by the food establishment employee(s). In order to protect patrons and employees, patrons should not enter the food establishment.
Alexandria Business Tax Changes (March 26)
On Tuesday, March 24, City Council enacted tax policy changes to help Alexandria businesses during the COVID-19 emergency. A summary of those changes is below. Details can be found on the City’s Finance Department website. Affected business owners with specific questions about these changes are encouraged to contact the City’s Revenue Division by email at Businesstax@alexandriava.gov.
- Delayed payment of 5% Meals Tax collected by Restaurants & Grocery Stores: for the approximately 490 restaurants and grocery stores in Alexandria, the City Council approved a temporary moratorium on charging late payment penalties and interest on the Meals Tax. This allows those businesses to hold on to the taxes they collected from customers between the time period of February 1, 2020 – June 30, 2020, and defer the payment to the City after the moratorium ends. It will also allow those businesses to enter into payment plans of the deferred taxes, without penalties or interest, provided they are paid in full by June 30, 2021.
- Delayed payment of 6.5% Transient Lodging Tax and $1.25 per night tax collected by Hotels, Motels & other Hospitality Businesses: for the approximately 50 hotels, motels, Airbnbs and bed and breakfasts in Alexandria, the City Council approved the same temporary moratorium described above for the Meals Tax.
- Extension of Business Personal Property Tax Return Filing Date: for the 8,000 businesses and organizations in the City of Alexandria that are required to file a tax return that identifies their personal property (furniture, fixtures, and equipment) subject to taxation, City Council moved the filing deadline from May 1 to July 1. The business personal property tax returns will be required to be filed online through the City’s Business Tax Portal. The due date for Personal Property tax payments was not changed from the regular due date of October 5.
- BPOL Tax 2020 – 2nd Quarter Payment Deferred: if a business has elected to pay tax year 2020 taxes on a quarterly basis, the 2nd quarterly payment, normally due May 1, 2020, has been deferred to January 8, 2021 (this is a one-time change only). The 2nd quarterly payment may be made next January without the additional handling fee of 5%. The 3rd quarterly payment will remain due on August 1st, and the 4th payment will be due on November 1st. Normal handling fees apply.
- BPOL Tax 2020 – Late Taxes: tax year 2020 BPOL taxes were due March 1, 2020. If a business has not yet paid the 2020 liability, payment may be deferred during the COVID19 moratorium, until June 30, 2020. Payment of the full amount must be paid at the end of the COVID19 moratorium. While a late payment penalty will not be charged during the moratorium, late interest will continue to accrue as required by state law. Payment after the moratorium can also be paid according to a payment plan, again with interest. Refund of taxes already paid on BPOL is not applicable.
Restaurant Operations (March 19)
Until further notice, the City has suspended enforcement of certain regulations and special use permit conditions that limit hours of operation, deliveries, off-premises alcohol sales, and outdoor sales and dining.
Parking (March 17)
The City has suspended enforcement of parking restrictions for residential street sweeping and for the prohibition on vehicles parking on the street for more than 72 hours. All other posted parking restrictions, including residential permit time limits and parking meters, remain in effect.
The Virginia Department of Taxation is extending the due date of payment of Virginia individuals and corporate income taxes. While filing deadlines remain the same, the due date for individual and corporate income tax will now be June 1, 2020. Please note that interest will still accrue, so taxpayers who are able to pay by the original deadlines should do so.
Support for Affected WOrkers
The Commonwealth has waived the one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits and is lifting other restrictions. If you are a worker who has been totally or partially separated from your job due to COVID-19, go to the Virginia Employment Commission to determine if you are eligible for unemployment insurance or call 866-832-2363 Monday through Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm.
To apply for benefits like SNAP, TANF, or Medicaid go to the Virginia Department of Social Services or call 855-635-4370 (to renew your Medicaid by phone call 855-242-8282).
Act for Alexandria has created a list of emergency response resources.
- The City of Alexandria has a dedicated COVID-19 webpage with updates and links to information on the local response to COVID-19.
How to Support ALX small Businesses
- Visit Alexandria launched a new community resource, ALX at Home, to keep locals and those in the nearby region connected to ways they can still support our local businesses from the comfort of their own home. From curbside pickup at restaurants to virtual ghost tours; from FaceTime shopping to virtual fitness classes, local restaurants, shops and attractions are tapping into their creativity to find new ways to bring their businesses to the community.
- The Chamber ALX is updating their COVID-19 page with updates from their members to track updates, delivery methods, specials, and more information.
Support, Questions, and Recommendations
If you have a question or are a struggling business owner, we want to hear from you. Email us and one of our staff members will respond.
We also want recommendations on how we can better serve the business community- please feel free to send us your suggestions.