Regional Council Creates Guide For First Coast Small Businesses Affected By COVID-19

Mar 20, 2020

The Northeast Florida Regional Council has put together a resource guide for small businesses struggling with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

"In dealing with the impacts of COVID-19, it is essential right now to recognize the importance of economic resilience - the ability of local economies to bounce back once this is over," said Northeast Florida Regional Council (NEFRC) Resiliency Coordinator Sean Lahav, who wrote the resource guide.

He says small businesses - especially those in the service industry, like bars, restaurants and retail stores - are going to face serious economic challenges due to the coronavirus, and they don't have as many resources at their disposal as larger corporations.

"If you as a business owner are required to shut down for an entire month, decisions will have to be made, employees are going to be without work, and it will be very difficult to bounce back once local communities return to normal," Lahav explained. "The purpose of this guide is to provide small business owners with a comprehensive inventory of available resources so that they can identify what will help them most in withstanding the economic impacts of this disaster."

Related: Building Northeast Florida's Resilience By Bringing Business Leaders To The Table

The seven-page guide includes details on federal and state guidelines, information on disaster financial assistance, communication and disaster recovery resources, social distancing advice, and tips on how to keep the virus from disrupting businesses and keep commercial establishments safe.

"This is a comprehensive guide prepared by NEFRC that can help our members and businesses throughout Northeast Florida weather these anxious and hectic times," said Christina Kelcourse, Executive Director of the North Florida Green Chamber.

The Green Chamber and Lahav are encouraging small businesses and homeowners to take advantage of low-interest federal disaster loans being offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Related: Local, State, And National Coronavirus Coverage

"One resource that I would specifically like to emphasize here is that economic injury disaster loans are now available to eligible small businesses across all Florida counties under the Small Business Administration's latest disaster declaration," said Lahav.

"While this situation continues to unfold, our focus at the NEFRC right now is to continue providing support to local governments," NEFRC CEO Beth Payne said. "Economic resilience is vital. Through the use of this guide, our hope is that small business owners are able to quickly identify short-term disaster resources so that they are better prepared for long-term recovery when this pandemic hopefully settles over."

Brendan Rivers can be reached at brivers@wjct.org, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.