Small Business Relief Grant Preliminary Metrics

The City of Austin has posted preliminary metrics taken from applications for the Small Business Relief Grant Program, which closes tomorrow, July 24 at 5PM. As of Tuesday evening, July 21, there were 1,333 applicants. 67% of these businesses have been partially operating during the pandemic, 22% have been completely closed, and 11% have been fully operational. The vast majority (784 applicants) are LLC’s, with 231 being sole proprietors and 237 operating under a different business structure. 1,105 applicants have received some other form of recovery funding, reporting an average of 6.9 employees with an average annual revenue of $974,000.

44% of businesses applying for funding have been in business for five years or under, 24% for six to ten years, 17% for ten to twenty years, 10% for over twenty years, and 4.35% for less than a year. 49% of executives applying are white, 18% are Asian, 14% are Hispanic/Latino, 7% are Black/African American, and 5% prefer not to answer. 700 executives are male and 606 are female. 440 applicants are between the ages of 30-39, 436 are between the ages of 40-49, 255 are between the ages of 50-59, 139 are over 60, 55 are between the ages of 20-29, and 8 prefer not to answer.

The top ten industries applying for the grant are, in order: Restaurants, Commercial Kitchens, Bars (268); Personal Care Services such as Barbers, Salons, Nail Salons, etc. (149); Arts, Entertainment, Recreation (145); Other Services (137); Retail (118); Health Care and Social  Assistance (112); Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services (77); Educational Services (70); Information, Software, Telecommunications, Media, etc. (43) and Finance, Insurance, Real Estate Rental and Leasing (42).

You still have a little over 24 hours to apply for this grant. If you are unsure if your business qualifies, take a minute to go over the eligibility criteria and grant FAQ, which has been updated with a list of questions received from businesses (refresh your browser window!) This page also contains charts of the metrics mentioned above. If you still have questions after reviewing the grant information page, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Better Business Bureau, who is administering the grant. They can be reached at 512-318-2683 and businessreliefgrant@austin.bbb.org. You can also reach out to us at for assistance at hello@ibuyaustin.com .

Gather your documentation, take a deep breath, and good luck!

 

New Emergency Rules for Worksites

Last week, the Austin City Council approved two new public health ordinances in an attempt to reduce the continuing spread of COVID-19 in Austin and the surrounding areas. These new emergency rules are in effect now and will be in effect through November 12, 2020. Of note to business owners is that they include, in addition to specific requirements for construction sites, broader requirements for all work sites and individuals.
To increase compliance, failure to follow these public health requirements may result in legal action and civil penalties and could ever lead to a work site being identified as a Public Health Nuisance and becoming subject to civil suit. Individuals can be fined up to $2,000 per day if they do not follow the requirements. These new orders are an attempt to gain compliance from the public and give work site administrators rules to point to when dealing with customers, not to punish businesses.
The text of the rule that details the requirements for work sites is below. Highlights are face cover requirements, social distancing, cleaning, and signage. AIBA can help with resources to get and keep business owners in compliance with these new rules if needed. We are just a phone call or an email away.

3.2. A person in control of a site must:
3.2.1. require each individual to wear a face covering except as provided in 2.1.2;
3.2.2. clean and disinfect high touch items at least twice per day;
3.2.3. limit the number of individuals who gather or stand together to ten or less;
3.2.4. require at least six feet between groups of individuals except when the groups are seated at tables that are at least four feet apart and separated by a solid barrier;
3.2.5. conduct a general health pre-screening of each worker every day before the worker begins his or her shift;
3.2.6. keep toilets clean, sanitary and operational at all times and ensure proper disposal of waste from these facilities;
3.2.7. provide single use disposable paper towels and no-touch trash receptacles in restrooms and breakrooms;
3.2.8. mandate workers wash their hands for at least twenty seconds at the following times:
3.2.8.1. before workers begin work;
3.2.8.2. after workers remove gloves;
3.2.8.3. before and after the use of shared items such as tools, electronic;
3.2.8.4. devices or multi-user devices;
3.2.8.5. before and after any meal or restroom breaks; and
3.2.8.6. after a worker’s shift or work time ends; and
3.2.9. for workers confirmed to have contracted COVID-19, follow all directions from Austin Public Health concerning that worker and other workers that may have come in contact with the infected worker.
3.3. Signs required. A person in control of a site shall post:
3.3.1. at least one face covering signs at or near each entrance;
3.3.2. at least one Austin Public Health “Help Prevent Disease” signs at each entrance and on each restroom door (available for download and print at: http://www.austintexas.gov/sites/default/files/files/Health/General%20Hygiene%20Flyer%20Final2-1-eng-051120.pdf ); and
3.3.3. where information for workers is customarily posted, at least one sign in English and at least one sign in Spanish that explains the requirement to remain at least six feet apart and the requirement to wear a face covering.

Grant Funding for Austin Businesses is Here

Good news for small businesses suffering financial hardship due to COVID-19! On July 7th, applications opened for the City of Austin’s Small Business Relief Grant program, which provides assistance of up to $40,000 per qualifying business to be used for rent, payroll, and other approved expenses incurred between March 1 and July 7, 2020. $16.5 million in federal funding from the CARES Act has been set aside for this program.

To be eligible, businesses must be able to demonstrate an economic loss associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, have been in continuous operation for at least two years, have under $5 million in annual revenue, be located within a City Council District, provide one year of federal tax returns, and have fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees (full time = 30+ hours/week, and two half-time employees would count as one full-time equivalent employee.) The grant is open to businesses operating under various business structures such as partnerships, sole proprietorships, LLCs, cooperatives, etc. Businesses who aren’t eligible include those engaged in multi-level marketing, lobbying, those who receive more than one third of their annual revenue from gambling, religious institutions, businesses debarred from contracting with the federal government, government entities, individuals, and nonprofits (there is a separate City grant for nonprofits, up to $20k.) Full-time City of Austin employees are not eligible for the Small Business Relief Grant.

Eligible expenses include rent, payroll, facility and business modifications for safety compliance, PPE, sanitation and cleaning, inventory, business insurance, technology, business adaptation and worker training, operational costs, and more. The grant does not cover lost sales or sponsorships, merchandise sold for marketing purposes, or costs that have been paid for by other COVID-19 grants or loans.

Applications will close at 5pm on July 24, and no priority is given to early applicants. Half of the applications will be evaluated according to a scoring matrix, and the other half will be distributed according to a lottery. For more information about the scoring matrix and detailed eligibility criteria, visit https://www.austintexas.gov/department/austin-small-business-relief-grant. For complete resources on Covid-19 recovery, visit www.atxrecovers.com.

AIBA and the Local Economies Council are working with the City and the Better Business Bureau, the administers of the application and selection process, to get information and assistance to local businesses in Austin. Please reach out to us at hello@ibuyaustin.com or 512-441-2123 with questions or if you need technical assistance in completing the application.

New State and Local Orders Requiring Face Coverings and Limiting Outdoor Gatherings

From the City of Austin Communications Department (via email): “Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order No. GA-29 on July 2, 2020 requiring all Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases, with few exceptions. The Governor also amended Executive Order No. GA-28 giving mayors and county judges the ability to impose restrictions on some outdoor gatherings over 10 people. Additionally, Governor Abbott’s amendment prohibits groups larger than 10, with few exceptions, and requires maintaining six feet of social distancing from others.
Consistent with the Governor’s Order, Mayor Steve Adler issued a new City of Austin Order on July 2, 2020 requiring everyone in city limits to wear some form of face covering that fits snugly over their nose and mouth. The Mayor’s Order also prohibits indoor or outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people, unless the gathering is expressly permitted by the Governor’s Order or a local Order.
Visit the City of Austin COVID-19 Information for Businesses and Industries webpage for helpful and up-to-date guidance for the most recent health and safety orders”

Statewide Order Closes Bars and Reduces Restaurant Capacity

The Texas State Governor today issued an order that call for all bars to close after rampant spread of covid-19 over the past few weeks. The order also reduces indoor restaurant capacity to 50% but allows them to remain open for dine in service. Rafting and tubing businesses are order closed and gatherings of 100 or more people must be approved by local governments. According to a press release from the governor’s office, these orders are “part of the state’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. This decision comes as the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 and the number of hospitalizations have increased and the positivity rate in Texas increased above 10%, which the Governor previously stated would lead to further preventative action. The targeted, measured directives in the executive order are based on links between certain types of businesses and services and the recent rise in positive cases throughout the state.”

Governor Abbott said, “at this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars. The actions in this executive order are essential to our mission to swiftly contain this virus and enhance public health. We want this to be as limited in duration as possible. However, we can only slow the spread if everyone in Texas does their part. Every Texan has a responsibility to themselves and their loved ones to wear a mask, wash their hands, stay six feet apart from others in public, and stay home if they can. I know that our collective action can lead to a reduction in the spread of COVID-19 because we have done it before, and we will do it again.”

The Governor’s office did not discuss additional financial assistance for those businesses required to close.

New Mask Order for All Austin Businesses

Per an order from Mayor Adler, all Austin businesses will be required to ensure that all workers and customers wear face masks or other face coverings. This order is supplemental to Adler’s earlier orderswhich the City extended to Aug. 15. The current order was set to expire on June 15.. This mask requirement goes into effect on June 18 lasts until August 15.

The order says businesses must develop and display a health and safety policy that requires a face covering while on the premises. Businesses have until June 23 to create and display this health and safety policy. Adler noted in his remarks that many Austin businesses have already implemented mask requirements for their employees and customers. This is a transition to a more “direct order on masks” does put the onus on businesses to enforce mask wearing on their premises, which will likely prove to be burdensome for some. For businesses who were already requiring face coverings under their own volition, this change provides a city-wide order to point to as back up if they are ever faced with resistance from the public.

We at AIBA are here to help locally owned business navigate any issues that arise and get them the support they need to make the new order work with their reopening strategies. Please reach out if you encounter any issues.

There are some exceptions to the order. A mask is not required when:

  • You are alone in a single, separate space
  • You are among people of the same household
  • You are eating or drinking
  • You are outdoors engaging in an allowed activity with social distancing
  • Wearing a mask poses a safety or health risk

 

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