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Although many North Carolina employers are now back in business during the pandemic, it isn’t business as usual. And it won’t be for some time. Companies have implemented measures to protect their workers and the public from the spread of the virus. They are turning to several resources to help manage operations during the “new normal.” The Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina lists some of those resources below, emphasizing that businesses always need to follow protocols set by the governor and local and state health officials.
BLNC staff are available Monday through Friday, 8:30 am – 4:00 pm. BLNC staff will connect your business to the appropriate organization for assistance. All inquiries will receive a response from a confidential business counselor within three (3) business days. “Se Habla Español.”
The Governor’s Three-Phase Plan. North Carolina is taking a three-phased approach – based on data from testing, tracing, and trends and in consultation with members of the business community – to lift restrictions in place to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and save lives. Click here to learn more about restrictions currently in place.
N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. Business can find the latest information on COVID-19 in N.C. by visiting the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website. The site includes links to specialized advice for specific industries including meat and poultry processing and others.
State Interim Guidance for Restaurants. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services has issued interim guidance for restaurants reopening under the governor’s phased approach to lifting business restrictions. The guidance will help restaurants reduce the spread of COVID-19 in their communities.
National Restaurant Association Guidance. The National Restaurant Association has provided this operating guide on best practices and procedures for restaurants.
Count on Me NC Initiative. The NC Restaurant and Lodging Association has joined with industry, academic and state partners including Visit NC on the Count On Me NC public health initiative. The campaign provides a free, evidenced-based training program that guides restaurants, hotels, attractions and other businesses on best practices for North Carolina’s reopening. It will also direct consumers to look for certificates and logos indicating that a business has completed the voluntary training. Read press release here.
Protecting Your Business from COVID-19. This guide from the National Institute of Standards and Technology can help businesses prepare for the impacts of COVID-19 and protect their facility and employees from exposure.
CDC Posters and Flyers for Your Business. This link provides free downloadable materials you can print and display in your workplace. They were developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to support COVID-19 safety recommendations and are available in multiple languages.
EPA Information on Disinfectants for Use Against COVID-19. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website provides helpful information that includes a list of disinfectants that meet EPA standards for use against the virus.
Responding to a COVID-19 Exposure at Your Business. Businesses can download this checklist of what to do if they suspect a COVID-19 exposure has occurred at their facility. The advice is based on CDC recommendations. The business should be sure to refer to North Carolina state recommendations as well.
OSHA Guidance for Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has developed the 35-page “Guidance for Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19,” which can be downloaded here.
OSHA Record–Keeping Requirements for COVID-19. This link highlights OSHA standards and directives (instructions for compliance officers) that may apply to worker exposure to COVID-19.
CDC’s “Plan, Prepare, and Respond” Site for Businesses: This CDC website offers many helpful links, including updated guidance to help prevent workplace exposure, a page answering common questions from businesses, and more.
Operation Open Doors Checklist for Retailers. The National Retail Federation has issued a checklist for reopening, encouraging retailers to work with their legal and financial advisers to adapt recommendations to their specific circumstances.
NC Retail Merchants Association Website. This website updates regularly to provide industry-specific information for North Carolina retailers managing operations during COVID-19, including webinars, signage to display, details on requirements vs. recommendations, and more.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Website. The FDA’s Food Safety and Coronavirus Disease website has a wealth of information regarding food safety for consumers as well as businesses and workers in farming and in food production, processing, and retail settings.
U.S Department of Agriculture Website. The USDA website has a list of frequently asked questions related to COVID–19, operations of the USDA’s Animal, Plant and Health Inspection Service, and more.
Family Forward NC COVID-19 Rapid Response Program. Family Forward NC offers Rapid Response – no cost access to HR experts to assist employers in identifying industry-appropriate, family-friendly workplace benefits during re-opening/retooling. These supports help employers and working parents build resilience during and after the COVID crisis. Rapid Response focuses specifically on the manufacturing and hospitality industries, but recommendations and tools can apply to other industries as well.
Manufacturers interested in pivoting to PPE (gowns, masks, gloves, etc.) can contact the Carolina Textile District (CTD) for help in transitioning their production to prototype and producing medical supplies during the COVID-19 crisis. They should also register their business with the NC Manufacturing Extension Partnership by clicking here.
Do you need PPE supplies? Do you have PPE to sell? Supply Connector is a directory designed to connect those who can supply materials and manufacture finished goods with those who need them most.
Find the Manufacturer or Supplier your business needs at ManufacturedNC:
RETOOLNC grant program. N.C. minority- and women-owned businesses hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic have access to guidance and $12 million in grants to help them weather the crisis. The N.C. Department of Administration launched a new grant program, RETOOLNC, to help N.C. Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUB) and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) firms impacted by COVID-19. RETOOLNC will provide eligible HUB and DBE firms an opportunity to receive up to $25,000 in grant funding.
NCMEP EAP. The N.C. Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NCMEP) is a network of nine North Carolina organizations that provide services designed to enhance the productivity, innovative capacity and technological performance of smaller manufacturing companies. Through CARES Act funding, NCMEP launched the Emergency Assistance Program (EAP) to provide services that support manufacturers’ ability to respond to the coronavirus and improve their competitiveness as the marketplace adapts to the coronavirus disruption. To participate in the EAP, manufacturers first must take this online survey.
SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans
The U.S. Small Business Administration offers the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program to all eligible small businesses and nonprofits experiencing economic impacts due to COVID-19. The loans can be used to cover payroll and inventory, pay debt or fund other expenses. The loan’s affordable terms include a 3.75% interest rate for small businesses and 2.75% for non-profit organizations and an automatic deferment of one year before monthly payments begin. Click here for more information.
Main Street Lending Program
The Federal Reserve’s new Main Street Lending Program
now offers loans from $100,000 to $300 million – a wide range that may support a broad set of employers. The Main Street Lending Program is designed to support small and medium-sized businesses and nonprofit organizations that were in sound financial condition before the Covid-19 pandemic but now lack access to credit on reasonable terms. Loans from the Main Street Lending Program are required to be repaid. But it does give borrowers time to recover from the pandemic with deferred principal and interest payments. The program also has lowered its fees.
USDA Rural Business Loans
The USDA is making available up to $1 billion in loan guarantees to help rural businesses meet their working capital needs during the pandemic. Additionally, agricultural producers ineligible for USDA Farm Service Agency loans may receive funding under the USDA Business & Industry (B&I) CARES Act Program. Borrowers should inquire with their lender. Lenders interested in participating should contact their USDA Rural Development state office.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires certain employers to provide their employees with expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division administers and enforces the new law’s paid leave requirements. These provisions will apply from the effective date through December 31, 2020. More details are available here, including FAQs.
A free online course is available, teaching the basics of starting, running, and growing a business. It is open to anyone, anywhere. The Brian Hamilton Foundation’s course covers business ideation, marketing, selling, customer service, and more. Learn how to break through the fear of failure to become your own boss. Sign up and learn more at brianhamilton.org/starter-u.
And as always, please feel free to contact our BLNC team of business counselors at 800-228-8443 with any questions you have about starting a business in North Carolina.
N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services: COVID-19 Recommendations for Businesses and Employers
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers
N.C. Dept. of Agriculture: Agricultural Industry Update