The Goleta Chamber of Commerce is convening business leaders in response to COVID-19 and the Federal CARES Act, passed on Friday, to provide economic relief to businesses at many levels.

The Goleta Chamber has provided information, online gatherings of leaders, industry-specific programs and communications to manufacturers, hotels, restaurants and service provider businesses in the region. Weekly calls, daily emails and innovative ideas are the main agenda for the Chamber professional staff and volunteer business leaders on the board of directors.

A big focus is on the federal relief package right now.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocated $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn. Known as the Paycheck Protection Program, the initiative provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses who maintain their payroll during this emergency. Importantly, these loans may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls during the crisis or restore their payrolls afterward.

The administration soon will release more details including the list of lenders offering loans under the program. In the meantime, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has issued the attached guide to help small businesses and self-employed individuals prepare to file for a loan.

“The CARES Act is a timely and necessary response from government to provide economic relief to business during this unprecedented time,” said Kristen Miller, President and CEO of the Goleta Chamber of Commerce.

Additional Small Business Provisions are included in the act, including $17 billion for Small Business Administration (SBA) to cover six months of payments for businesses with current SBA loans.

“As of today, there are many unanswered questions on how to apply for and receive the CARES and SBA loans,” said Kathy Odell, CEO, Women’s Economic Ventures. “WEV will provide assistance to small businesses seeking SBA funding and continue to offer our COVID-19 Quick Response Loans and business advisory services to assist small business adapt to new economic circumstances.”

There are also changes to SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) to include all non-profits, removing the personal guarantee requirement for loans below $200,000 and a new $10,000 cash advance provision.  The cash advance will be forgiven if spent on paid leave, maintaining payroll, increased costs due to supply chain disruption, mortgage or lease payments, or repaying obligations that cannot be met due to revenue losses.

“Local businesses are the fabric of our communities and we must stand together in support of them,” said Janet Garufis, President of Montecito Bank and Trust. “Loan assistance programs like the CARES Act are an integral piece of the foundation for us to build upon, and as a qualified lender we are eagerly awaiting the additional guidance so that we can help quickly provide relief. As the largest, oldest and locally owned community bank on the central coast, we are well prepared to help businesses navigate these challenging times.”

Business tax provisions are included, related to refunds to part of the employer’s share of payroll taxes on wages and other modifications.

The CARES Act grants eligible employers a credit against employment taxes equal to 50 percent of qualified wages paid to employees who are not working due to the employer’s full or partial cessation of business or a significant decline in gross receipts. There are limits to consider as well.  The Act also provides refunds through carrying back Net Operating Losses, loosened limitations on business interest deductions and the depreciation Qualified Improvement Property and accelerated businesses ability to seek refunds from any Alternative Minimum Tax credits they may have.

“We have assisted several clients with the application process,” said Tony Vallejo, Partner at Nicholson & Schwartz. “It can be challenging especially considering the huge number of applications that are being submitted, but we are encouraging our clients to apply as soon as possible since we are expecting delays in the process.”

Connectivity is key for the Goleta Chamber and the business community.  Our high-tech community of business and industry was already focused on cutting edge technology that brings people and businesses closer together.  The pandemic and economic crises amplifies our local reliance on digital communication.

“During these unprecedented times, Cox is committed to keeping our customers’ and our communities’ connected. Our network is fully operational. We are completely staffed around the clock and our all-hands-on-deck team of network professionals can holistically monitor and manage our network, both physically from our network operations center and 100 percent virtually, if needed.”  Kirsten McLaughlin, Cox Communications.

The Goleta Chamber of Commerce is partnering with all other Chambers in the County to put on a webinar this Wednesday, April 1st with our regional representative from the US Chamber of Commerce to further discuss what the CARES Act means for our local businesses and how small business owners can get access to these resources. For more information or to register for the webinar, visit www.GoletaChamber.com.

“Our firm has been working with businesses of all sizes to navigate the impacts of COVID-19 and implement legal strategies to support continued operations in a safe manner. Across all practice areas, our attorneys have created resources allowing businesses to survive, and potentially thrive. One partner that we have found invaluable is Goleta Chamber of Commerce, due to its ability to disseminate accurate information from reliable sources in a timely manner.” says Trevor Large, Managing Partner, Buynak, Fauver, Archbald, & Spray.

The Goleta Chamber’s COVID-19 Emergency Resources page on the Chamber website is updated daily.