(Updated May 25, 2021)
The City of Eugene has created a specialized Business Help Team to assist employers as they seek to keep their businesses afloat by answering questions about financing options, reopening guidelines and other topics. The team is working to be flexible to meet the needs of different businesses as rules change and needs evolve.
Grant Fund Launches to Help Oregon Small Businesses Cover Costs
Beginning May 26, Business Oregon will open the final portion of a program to provide grants for small businesses to help with commercial rent and operational costs in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Oregon Legislative Emergency Board allocated approximately $100 million for the program to help small businesses impacted by the pandemic and the restrictions it necessitated. Following two rounds of distribution of Commercial Rent Relief assistance grants, approximately $28 million remains to be distributed in this final round through the Operational Cost Assistance Grant.
The Operational Cost Assistance Grant is designed for businesses with 100 or fewer employees in industries that were particularly affected by the pandemic, including those that:
- offer the consumption of food and or drink on premise;
- provide specified indoor physical exercise, recreational or family entertainment; OR
- provide specified personal services.
Businesses that received assistance grants through the state of Oregon Commercial Rent Relief Program for the same location are eligible to receive the grant, as long as the award amount through the Commercial Rent Relief Program was less than $100,000.
Applications for the Operational Cost Assistance Grant will be accepted beginning May 26 and awards will be selected after a random lottery process of all complete and eligible applications received. See the Business Oregon website to learn more about the program and find the application link that will be posted beginning May 26.
Restaurant Revitalization Fund Applications Open
U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) applications for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund opened on May 3 and will remain open to any eligible establishment until all funds are exhausted.
In preparation, the SBA recommends qualifying applicants:
- Review the official guidance, including program guide, frequently asked questions, and application sample.
- Prepare the required documentation.
- Work with a point-of-sale vendor or submit an application.
For the first 21 days that the program is open, the SBA will prioritize funding applications from businesses owned and controlled by women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. All eligible applicants are encouraged to submit applications as soon as the portal opens. Following the 21 days, all eligible applications will be funded on a first-come, first-served basis.
COVID-19 Economic Relief
The U.S. Department of Treasury's website is a portal for information about a variety of assistance programs.
American Rescue Plan Act of 2021
The coronavirus relief package, known as the American Rescue Plan, includes funding to support businesses that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation authorizes the implementation of support programs:
- $15 billion in Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) grants, with grants of up to $10,000 per small business.
- Additional $7.25 billion in expanded Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding and increased eligibility to nonprofits and digital media companies.
- Over $28 billion to support restaurants and bars, with grants applied toward payroll, mortgage, utilities, food and beverage expenses, and paid sick leave. These grants will be capped at $10 million per entity or $5 million per location.
- An additional $1.25 billion for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, and clarifies applicants can access both the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant and the PPP loan.
- $39 billion in supplemental funding for child care, which will help child care providers keep their doors open and reduce costs for struggling families.
Federal PPP and EIDL Resources
The U.S. Congress and the President created the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) and other legislation which released funds to provide financial relief to businesses negatively affected by COVID-19. The legislation created the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. Businesses negatively affected by the COVID-19 outbreak are encouraged to contact financial institutions and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to learn about the programs and how to apply for the loans and grants. The SBA is still accepting new EIDL applications for loans (not forgivable). Learn more and apply online.
- The Small Business Administrate and U.S. Department of Treasury have answers to frequently asked questions (updated Oct. 7, 2020).
- The US Chamber of Commerce provides a summary of the CARES Act’s provisions.
PPP Loans, EIDL Advances, SBA Loan Subsidies Not Subject to Oregon’s Corporate Activity Tax (CAT)
The Oregon Department of Revenue has determined that certain federal assistance to businesses under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is not ‘commercial activity’ under Oregon statute and will not be subject to the Corporate Activity Tax. The exempt assistance includes forgiven Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) emergency advances, and Small Business Administration (SBA) loan subsidies. Read the news release for more details.
Employee Retention Tax Credits
Businesses are eligible for an employee retention tax credit if operations were fully or partially suspended because of a COVID-19 shutdown order, or gross receipts declined by more than 50% compared to the same quarter in the prior year. Eligible businesses can get a refundable 50% tax credit on wages up to $10,000 per employee, or $5,000. The credit can be obtained on wages paid or incurred from March 13, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020. Businesses that receive a Paycheck Protection loan are ineligible for the tax credit.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has posted updated FAQs providing answers regarding the Employee Retention Credit under the CARES Act. The Employee Retention Credit encourages businesses to keep employees on their payroll. The refundable tax credit is 50% of up to $10,000 in wages paid by an eligible employer whose business has been financially impacted by COVID-19.
Eugene Water & Electric Board’s Small Business Recovery Program provides utility bill payment assistance for business and non-profit customers who have been financially impacted by COVID-19. EWEB’s program offers those who have accrued a past-due balance two different repayment options for bringing their accounts up to date over time.
The Oregon Community Foundation has established the Oregon Community Recovery Grant program to support nonprofits affected by COVID-19. They plan to launch a new statewide application in winter 2021, check their website for details. Nonprofit Association of Oregon has collected information to help non-profits affected by COVID-19, including resources for business continuity and funding opportunities.
Lane County’s Business Information web page has information about federal and state resources. The County is the primary connection for our region to verify state and federal resources.
Eugene Business Recovery Strategies
Updates to the Streatery Program
Eugene’s Streatery program has been extended through the end of Oct. 27, 2021.
- Read more about the program and apply for a permit.
- See a map of all businesses participating in the Streatery Permit program.
Email the City’s Business Help Team if you have questions about the Streatery program.
Public Spaces for Outdoor Fitness Classes
- Parks: Parks and Open Space is adapting the low-cost park rental program to make it easier for local businesses and organizations to rent spaces for health and fitness activities. If approved, businesses can reserve space for up to two hours per day, five days a week for $40 per month. The standard $150 deposit has been temporarily waived. This program will be evaluated on an ongoing basis to determine whether it is having a positive impact on long-term recovery efforts. Security deposits will be waived. Learn more about the Park Rental Program.
- Parking Garages and Sidewalks: In early August, the Downtown Athletic Club began offering something unusual – outdoor exercise and spin classes. An agreement with the City allows the club to use the upper levels of the adjacent Overpark public parking garage for exercise classes. The City also permitted the DAC to offer spin sessions on the public sidewalk in front of the Willamette Street athletic club. Contact Operations Manager Travis Hargitt about using City parking garages and the City’s Business Help Team about sidewalk permits.
Kesey Square “Food Hall”
As part of the City’s reopening and recovery efforts, the Downtown Ambassadors re-opened Kesey Square to offer space for the public to sit, eat lunch and order food from downtown restaurants and food carts. Tables and chairs are out from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and sanitized regularly, spaced 6-feet apart. Masks are required when physical distancing is not possible.
Parking Accommodations to Support Carry-Out Customers and Delivery Companies
City of Eugene’s Parking Services created a new service for restaurants and business owners open for carry-out and delivery orders. Businesses can request the designation of 1-2 parking spots in front of their location to provide a dedicated free parking spot for carry-out customers and/or delivery companies. This service is free for the business and free for the customers. To request this new service please email email@example.com. See a map of the businesses that are using this service.
Keeping Business Open and Safe
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
See has guidance for employers, workers, and specific industries to keep workspaces safe.
- Lane Business Link
Lane Business Link is an online portal created by Lane Community College's Small Business Development Center to support local businesses. Lane Business Link brings together resource partners in a searchable database for businesses throughout Lane County. It connects businesses to resources, advisers, funding, and education.
- Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce
The Eugene and Springfield Area Chambers of Commerce have partnered to provide the new Back to Business Guide, a resource to help businesses navigate the state and county’s new guidelines. Also see the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Coronavirus Small Business Resources Guide.
- Business Oregon
The state’s economic development agency has information about resources and guidance for small businesses affected by COVID-19 and the wildfires.
- Oregon Economic Development Association
See the association's COVID-19 resources page and Business Survival Tips During a Pandemic.
- Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership
The Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership (OMEP) also has COVID-19 resources, including information on managing supply chains, business continuity and financial resources. OMEP continues to offer an ongoing series of free webinars devoted to COVID-19 and manufacturing.
For the Hospitality Industry
- Restaurant Revitalization Fund (U.S. Small Business Administration)
Emergency assistance for eligible restaurants, bars, and other qualifying businesses impacted by COVID-19.
- Travel Oregon
Travel Oregon has created a toolkit for businesses in the hospitality and tourism industries. The toolkit includes communication materials and business resources.
- Changes to Beer, Wine, and Cider Rules
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission has made a few changes to try and soften the blow for licensees. Delivery of Beer, Wine, and Cider is a privilege that licensees can apply for, and that application process has been streamlined. The license allows for the delivery of beer, wine, and cider to its parking lot or other adjoining area. The privilege also includes the ability to deliver (same day) to Oregon residents. The OLCC website provides guidance.
Business Emergency Planning
- The Lane Small Business Development Center (SBDC) can help create an emergency plan for businesses and provide guidance on how to document impacts to your business from COVID-19.
- SHINE (Sustainability Hub of Interchange Negotiation Experts) will help you create an emergency plan to deal with the disruption caused by COVID-19. Their experienced staff will also review your current business plan, including an operational assessment and look at management team alignment. SHINE is a program funded through an investment from the Lane Workforce Partnership through state layoff aversion funds.
Telecommuting and Cyber-Security
- Keep Americans Connected
In response to COVID-19, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has asked broadband and telephone service providers to do what they can to keep residents and small businesses connected. Over 800 companies and associations have signed the pledge to not terminate services, waive late fees, and open Wi-Fi hotspots.
- Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)
CISA is the Nation’s risk advisor, working with partners to defend against today’s threats and collaborating to build more secure and resilient infrastructure for the future. On March 13, 2020, CISA released an alert encouraging organizations to adopt a heightened state of cybersecurity when implementing alternate workplace options for their employees. Remote work options – or telework – require an enterprise virtual private network (VPN) solution to connect employees to an organization’s information technology (IT) network. CISA encourages public and private sector organizations to sign-up for Vulnerability Scanning.
For firms that cannot avoid layoffs, business owners should inform their employees in some form of writing that they are closing and all employees are laid off until further notice. This provides the workers with documentation to claim unemployment insurance. The Oregon Office of Workforce Investment encourages businesses to file a WARN notice when they are laying off staff. The State is tracking these, so it has a sense of the scope of layoffs and can provide that information to federal agencies.
The Oregon Employment Department is the primary resource for information about layoffs and unemployment insurance. For the most current guidance for employers, workers, and job seekers who may be impacted by the COVID-19 virus, please visit the department’s COVID-19 employment-related web page for the latest information.
Work Share program
Businesses that are cutting hours of their employees can take advantage of Oregon’s Work Share program, which enables a flexible response to a layoff situation. With Work Share, instead of reducing staff, an employer reduces the hours of work for a group of workers. Partial unemployment insurance benefits are then paid to supplement workers’ reduced wages.