COVID-19 Resources for Businesses

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The City of Mercer Island recognizes the severe business impacts of the coronavirus measures being implemented across the region. We understand that business owners and employees have many questions surrounding the virus and its effect on business operations and economic security.

To assist in answering those questions, we have compiled resources from national, state, county, and regional organizations for your reference.

Always remember to document your individual or business-related financial impacts. This may help you receive compensation either through your insurance or through potential relief efforts by state or federal agencies.

As the virus spreads, most establishments will be challenged by additional State mandates, special cleaning needs, and reduced staffing or fewer customers due to quarantine concerns. The City is working closely with the Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce to provide information specific to local businesses.

The City of Mercer Island recognizes the severe business impacts of the coronavirus measures being implemented across the region. We understand that business owners and employees have many questions surrounding the virus and its effect on business operations and economic security.

To assist in answering those questions, we have compiled resources from national, state, county, and regional organizations for your reference.

Always remember to document your individual or business-related financial impacts. This may help you receive compensation either through your insurance or through potential relief efforts by state or federal agencies.

As the virus spreads, most establishments will be challenged by additional State mandates, special cleaning needs, and reduced staffing or fewer customers due to quarantine concerns. The City is working closely with the Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce to provide information specific to local businesses.

  • Extension of City B&O Tax Deadline to Oct 31

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    At its April 7 video meeting, the Mercer Island City Council passed an ordinance that temporarily allows Island businesses to delay Business and Occupation (B&O) tax payments. Over the past few weeks, the City has heard from the Chamber of Commerce as well as a number of business owners about the undue financial hardships caused by the COVID-19 emergency and mandatory closures.

    For businesses that submit their B&O tax payments quarterly, the Council amended the City’s code allowing the Finance Director to extend payment deadlines this year during the declared COVID-19 emergency. The extensions would apply to businesses earning gross receipts of at least $250,000 per quarter; all other businesses (earning at least $150,001 per year) pay their B&O tax annually.

    The Director has announced that first and second quarter payment deadlines will be extended to October 31, 2020.

  • 5 Tips for the PPP from a Mercer Island Business Owner

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    An additional $310 billion was added to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) on April 24. The Small Business Admistration (SBA) resumes accepting applications for this federal funding source this Monday, April 27, at 7:30am PST.

    If you have not reconnected with your lender about the PPP yet, do so as soon as possible. Likewise, if you have not applied yet, reach out to your bank or find a lender immediately, as these funds will go fast again! You can find a list of eligible lenders using the SBA’s online tool.

    Suzanne Zahr, founder and principal architect at Suzanne Zahr, Inc., received her PPP loan earlier this month. We asked her to share her tips for the process. Keep reading for five tips, from one Mercer Island business owner to another.


    1] Be prepared.

    Lenders require a variety of documents when you submit your application. "I requested info from my accounting manager, CPA, and attorney ahead of time so that all my paperwork was on-hand and ready to upload," says Zahr. She operates S Corporations and was required to submit the following:

    • Payroll documentation (W3 / W2 reports and 941 tax filings)
    • Payroll calculation x2.5 (make sure you understand what does and does not qualify)
    • Summary of health benefits and retirement contributions
    • Business License / Certificate of Formation
    • Articles of Incorporation
    • Bylaws
    • List of business owners
    • Recent meeting minutes
    • Name-change documents (if applicable)
    • Information about affiliated businesses
    • ACH Deposit information

    Talk with your accountant, lender, or other financial experts you work with to ensure you have the correct documentation for your business type. Startup425 has also launched new services to assist local businesses on the Eastside during the COVID-19 crisis. If you need technical assistance for the PPP or the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), consider reaching out to one of their advisors.


    2] Queue up quickly.

    Hop on your lender's application page early to ensure you're in line when the application reopens at 7:30am on Monday. "I literally sat at my laptop refreshing my bank's application page until their link was published [and] then quickly submitted my application of interest," says Zahr.


    3] Be redundant, and be a squeaky wheel.

    From lack of communication with business owners to application webpages crashing, we've seen many challenges on the lender side during the PPP process. Zahr recommends that business owners continually follow up with their lenders instead of waiting to hear from them. And, if your lender isn't being helpful, consider finding another bank or credit union. "After realizing that my bank wasn’t being as responsive as I’d hoped, I started to ask around to fellow small biz owners to see if they’ve had any success," says Zahr. "I was introduced to a small community bank (one that I hadn’t even heard of prior), and they were the ones that ultimately got it done! I also appreciated having direct access to a live human being instead of just a weblink and emailed form letters."

    If you're struggling to find a local lender, use the SBA's online tool: https://www.sba.gov/paycheckprotection/find


    4] Borrow only what will be forgiven.

    "It's always been my intention to keep my team intact," says Zahr. "This SBA loan will keep us going without depleting our company savings. This allows us to come out of the gate strong once we're released to work safely." The PPP aims to help businesses weather about eight weeks of economic impact and is up to 100% forgivable if you use it for eligible expenses.

    However, consider how much debt you take on when accepting funding. "Many [businesses] need this money to ease cashflow concerns, so only take what you need to get by. If you're looking for more than this program provides, seek other small business loan options," says Zahr.

    The most recent funding bill also replenished the SBA'S Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, which provides long-term support during the COVID-19 crisis. Learn more about the EIDL here. Businesses can apply for both the PPP and EIDL.


    5] Take deep breaths, and know you're not alone.

    "Though this health crisis is scary and can cause great anxiety in our small business community, I’m encouraged by the immense support, grace, and camaraderie shown by our competitors, clients, collaborators, and local leaders," says Zahr. "Now that Governor Inslee has allowed Washington to restart construction with heightened safety protocols in place, fellow General Contractors on Mercer Island (led by Jamie Hsu of Lakeville Homes) have banded together in support of obtaining the proper PPE and sharing knowledge through our local industry organizations. At a time when we’ve otherwise been in competition with each other, we’re now arm-in-arm assisting in each other’s re-launch, always with the well being of our collective health and prosperity in mind."


    Many thanks to Suzanne Zahr for sharing these tips! She also shared helpful information for local business owners on her blog, and we continue to update Let's Talk with information to help small businesses through this difficult time.


    The City of Mercer Island wants to support local businesses during this uncertain time. Contact Sarah Bluvas, Small Business Liaison, at sarah.bluvas@mercergov.org to let us know how we can help.


  • 12 Resources to Help You Keep Customers Engaged During COVID-19

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    Many local businesses are struggling to connect with their customer base during the COVID-19 crisis. As the State's stay-at-home order continues, finding ways to keep your community engaged with your business is critical. Click through the links below for tips and tutorials for messaging, creating content, selecting social media platforms, and more to help you navigate the digital marketing world and reach your customers where they are right now.


    Marketing Tips from Mailchimp

    Digital marketing powerhouse Mailchimp has provided a range of digital marketing resources for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis as well as has an archive of fantastic articles to help your business delve into digital or expand your existing efforts. Some highlights include:


    Visit mailchimp.com/resources/ for more resources.


    Webinars and Workshops to Watch

    Many local, state, and national entities offer free webinars and online workshops to small businesses to help them weather the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on their organizations. Here are a few upcoming webinars that may be helpful when evolving your customer engagement strategy:


    SMART Webinar: Future of Retail

    Date: Friday, April 24, 2020 | Time: 11am-1pm

    Presented by: The Southside Mitigation and Recovery Taskforce (SMART)

    How consumers interact with businesses has already changed drastically during this pandemic, and we can anticipate that shopping habits will continue in this “new normal” even after the economy starts to reopen. This would be a great webinar for customer-facing and brick-and-mortar businesses on the Island.


    Recovery Readiness: Digital Marketing

    Date: Wednesday, May 6, 2020 | Time: 1-2pm

    Presented by: Washington Small Business Development Center

    This webinar covers digital marketing steps you can take on the road to recovery. It will explore

    • Ways to post online and stay engaged during this time
    • Potential scenarios for changing consumer behaviors
    • Considerations for moving your business online


    Expert Advice on Critical Ways to Keep Customers Engaged During Coronavirus

    Date/Time: Previously recorded | Presented by: US Chamber of Commerce

    This webinar looks at how a few small businesses around the country have adapted their customer engagement strategies and offers tips for messaging, social media, and other aspects of marketing.


    Looking for more webinars and workshops? Check out these regional and national resources for ongoing content updates:


    The City of Mercer Island wants to support local businesses during this uncertain time. Contact Sarah Bluvas, Small Business Liaison, at sarah.bluvas@mercergov.org to let us know how we can help.

  • Apply for a Small Business Grant from Facebook today!

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    In an effort to assist small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 emergency, tech giant Facebook launched its Small Business Grants Program. The company is offering $100m in cash grants and ad credits to help in this challenging time,

    Up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in more than 30 countries where we operate will be able to receive the grant. The program opened to businesses in New York City and the Seattle area first; to be eligible to apply, you must:

    • Be a for-profit company
    • Employ between 2 and 50 employees
    • Have been in business for over a year
    • Have experienced challenges from COVID-19
    • Be in or near a location where Facebook operates

    Many Mercer Island businesses likely qualify for this program; review the application guide and consider applying today!

    Start the application process here.

    Applications for Seattle-area businesses close at 11:59pm on Wednesday, May 6.

  • Updated COVID-19 Relief Resources

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    We continue to update this page as more resources for small business relief become available. Check back often for updated information.


    General Resources

    Business Planning

    Unemployment & Business Insurance

    Essential Businesses

    Other Support

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    Public Health Guidance

    - - - - - - - - - -

    Financial Assistance

    Local

    State & Regional

    Federal

    • SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) - As of 04/16/20, the SBA has paused accepting applications for the EIDL program due to a lapse in appropriations for this program; check back soon for funding updates.
    • CARES Act - As of 04/16/20, the SBA has paused accepting applications for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) due to a lapse in appropriations for this program; check back soon for funding updates.

    Private

    - - - - - - - - - -

    Nonprofit Organizations

    - - - - - - - - - -

    Artists + Arts & Culture Organizations



    The City of Mercer Island wants to support local businesses during this uncertain time. Contact Sarah Bluvas, Small Business Liaison, at sarah.bluvas@mercergov.org to let us know how we can help.

  • Join the WeLoveMI Campaign and benefit from community fundraising!

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    On Wednesday, April 15, the Mercer Island Community Fund (MICF) will launch WeLoveMI, a new community-wide effort to provide relief during the COVID-19 emergency. WeLoveMI makes it easy for community members to directly support local organizations that have been impacted and that help community members who are most in need during this difficult time.

    Keep reading to learn more about WeLoveMI and how your local business or nonprofit can get involved.

    About WeLoveMI

    This fundraising and outreach campaign aims to ensure that Mercer Island remains a place where community members are cared for, the business district is vibrant, schools deliver top-notch education, and nonprofits offer services and programs that support residents and bring the community together. MICF collaborated with a community coalition including leaders and advocates from Mercer Island Youth and Family Services, Mercer Island Schools Foundation, Mercer Island Boys and Girls Club, the Stroum Jewish Community Center, and the Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce to develop this campaign.

    WeLoveMI for Local Businesses

    MICF and the Chamber know that local businesses have been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 emergency, so WeLoveMI is here to help Island businesses, too!

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    How does it work?

    WeLoveMI leverages the trusted online fundraising platform GoFundMe. Start a fundraiser for free, and WeLoveMI will list your GoFundMe page on www.welovemi.org. There, community members can find all local business fundraisers in one place and donate to whichever businesses they choose.

    As a bonus, GoFundMe is helping small businesses affected by COVID-19 emergency through its Small Business Relief Initiative. Raise $500 via your GoFundMe fundraiser, and you could receive a matching grant of $500 from GoFundMe.org. Click here for more information about this initiative.

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    What’s in it for my business?

    • A platform to tell supporters your COVID-19 story – WeLoveMI offers a central way to connect community members and other audiences with your business and share how you and your employees have been impacted by this emergency.
    • Extensive promotion and outreach – WeLoveMI leverages the networks of MICF, the Chamber, and the City of Mercer Island to raise awareness for your business and boost support. Marketing efforts will include e-mail campaigns, press coverage, signage, flyers, social media marketing, and print & digital advertising.
    • Community-wide support and collaboration – Local businesses are part of the Heart & Soul of Mercer Island. Now is the time to join together to preserve the Island’s vibrant economic ecosystem. Be part of that effort through WeLoveMI!

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    It's easy for businesses to participate!

    All you have to do is set up your GoFundMe fundraiser and submit your information to WeLoveMI.

    Launch your GoFundMe fundraiser for COVID-19 relief.

    1. Visit www.GoFundMe.com and click “Start a GoFundMe.”
    2. On your fundraising page, make sure to include the following:
      • In your fundraiser title, include your business name and “COVID-19.” Ex. Support Mercer Island Florist during the COVID-19 Emergency or Help Auto Spa Employees during the COVID-19 Shutdown
      • In the fundraiser description, tell your business’s COVID-19 story. How have you been impacted? How have your employees been affected? How can supporters best help your Island business during this difficult time? It also helps to share how you will use the funds; examples could include employee salaries and benefits, rent, and utilities.
      • Also add #SmallBusinessRelief to your fundraiser story. This will help you pursue the matching $500 grant from the Small Business Relief Initiative and Fund.
      • Set your fundraising goal. Choose a goal that meets your needs. And don’t worry if you exceed it! Your fundraiser will stay open to continue receiving donations until you close it. You can also change your fundraising goal at any time.
    3. Confirm your small business with GoFundMe to be eligible for the $500 matching grant. Fill out this form to confirm your business.
    4. Link your GoFundMe campaign with your bank account to ensure you receive your funds quickly.
      • MICF and the Chamber are not equipped to provide tax advice for your fundraiser, so make sure you talk with your accountant to better understand how GoFundMe fundraising works for your business.
      • Note that GoFundMe no longer charges platform fees, but payment processors like WePay and PayPal charge recipients a standard processing fee (2.9% + $.30 per transaction). Learn more about these fees here.

    Submit your WeLoveMI Application for Businesses via this Google Form.

    Once you launch your GoFundMe fundraiser, make sure MICF adds your information to www.welovemi.org! To be listed on the campaign page, fill out this brief Google form. Once you submit your information via the Google form, your fundraiser will be included in all WeLoveMI promotion and outreach.

    Start your GoFundMe fundraiser and submit information to WeLoveMI as soon as possible!

    WeLoveMI launches this Wednesday, April 15, so set up your GoFundMe fundraiser and complete the Google form ASAP! To make sure you are included in the campaign launch this week, please submit your information by Monday, April 13, at noon. If you can’t make that deadline, though, don’t worry – MICF and the Chamber will continue to add businesses to the campaign as GoFundMe fundraisers go live, so you can still take part in this community-wide effort.

    WeLoveMI for Nonprofits

    To be included in WeLoveMI, nonprofits must meet the following criteria:

    1. Have 501(c)(3) status
    2. Primarily serve the Mercer Island community
    3. Experienced decreased revenue (donations) and/or increased costs resulting from the COVID-19 emergency
    4. Be equipped to receive online donations

    Eligible organizations should submit their information via this Google form.

    If your organization is not set up to receive online donations but you meet the first three criteria, you may be eligible to apply for a MICF grant. Contact Debbie Hanson at deborahhansonpt@gmail.com for more information.

    How will community members participate?

    Beginning April 15, community members can visit the redesigned www.welovemi.org to support community organizations in one place. To support local businesses, community members will be able to find all GoFundMe fundraisers that have been submitted on one easy-to-navigate page. hopes to have a “rising tides raise all ships” effect by promoting all fundraisers in one locatioWeLoveMIn.

    MICF collaborated with Mercer Trade, Inc., a student-run business through the International Entrepreneurship class at Mercer Island High School, to design a full marketing campaign. Students have been working from home during what would have been their spring break to create the website as well as campaign branding, signage, and social media plans. Look for this extensive community outreach kicking off on Wednesday!

  • Small Business Resources in the CARES Act

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    The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides financial resources for small business in the form of loans, grants, and debt relief.

    Information about individual programs can be found in this section.


    General Information

    Paycheck Protection Program

    SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan


    Paycheck Protection Program – LAST DAY FOR APPROVAL IS 6/30

    The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was replenished on April 24 and reopened to applicants on April 27.

    As of June 8, $130b remains in the fund, so consider applying today.


    Recent legislation also provides more flexibility in the program, including:

    • Extending the time to spend loan funds from 8 weeks to 24 weeks
    • Expanding the percentage of funds that can be used to cover non-payroll expenses

    In order to apply for this program, you must work with an eligible lending institution (bank, credit union, etc.). If you haven't already, contact your bank TODAY to start the process. If your lender is not participating in this program, you may be able to work with one of these lenders accepting new customers:

    You can also find eligible lenders here: https://www.sba.gov/paycheckprotection/find

    Lenders may require different documentation. Here is a SAMPLE list of required documents: https://letstalk.mercergov.org/5278/widgets/17360/documents/10875

    Make sure to check with your bank or credit union to confirm the documents they require.


    Key Program Highlights

    • All small businesses with 500 or fewer employees are eligible to apply. This includes nonprofits, veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses as well as self-employed individuals, sole proprietorships, and independent contractors.
    • Loans will be fully forgiven as long as they are used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities.
    • Forgiveness is based on the employer maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels.

    Additional Documentation

    According to the Washington Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), SBA lending institutions may require the following additional documentation:

    • To prove your business was in operation as of February 15, 2020, obtain a Certificate of Good Standing from the state's Office of Secretary dated within the last 90 days.
    • To verify your business had employees for whom you paid salaries and taxes, please provide one of the following:
      • A State Unemployment form 940 (annual) or 941 (seasonal);
      • A current CPA prepared financial statement; or
      • A current CPA statement validating the borrower paid salaries and payroll tax.
    • To verify the calculation of the loan amount, provide financial information and/or statements that demonstrate how the loan amount was calculated.

    Watch the video linked above for a comprehensive overview of the program and requirements. You can also find the following PPP documents on Let’s Talk:

    Follow this link to find the application: www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program-ppp

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    SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Assistance

    UPDATE: At this time, only agricultural business applications will be accepted due to limitations in funding availability and the unprecedented submission of applications already received. Applicants who have already submitted their applications will continue to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis.

    Have you applied for the US Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program yet? This low-interest loan provides relief for small businesses directly impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

    Apply here: https://covid19relief.sba.gov/#/

    The Washington Small Business Development Center (WSBDC) encourages ALL small businesses to apply for this program. There is NO fee associated with applying, and you are not required to accept the loan once approved.

    Watch the video linked in this article for a summary of the program and a walk-through of the brief online application. The updated application also now includes an option to request a loan advance of up to $10,000. While official guidelines have not been released yet, this initial disbursement will likely be forgiven from your overall loan. Apply TODAY to be considered for the loan and to access the advance.

    Did you apply for the EIDL before the loan advance was made available? You can still access this initial disbursement opportunity! Simply apply using the updated application link above and select "I would like to be considered for an advance of up to $10,000" at the end of the application.


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    The City of Mercer Island wants to support local businesses during this uncertain time. Contact Sarah Bluvas, Small Business Liaison, at sarah.bluvas@mercergov.org to let us know how we can help.

  • Open for business? Remind Islanders to Shop Local and Spend Like it Matters!

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    Mercer Island's local businesses and nonprofits are part of the heart and soul of this community. Stay connected with your community by reminding Islanders to Shop Local and Spend Like it Matters during this crisis.

    The Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce, a group of business owners, and Mercer Island City Council compiled a list of ways community members can support local businesses while staying home and staying healthy.

    Download the flyer and share it with your own customers!

    PDF Flyer | JPEG Flyer

  • Find a Mercer Island Eatery Using this Digital Map!

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    The new digital Mercer Island Restaurant Guide shows updated hours, take-out/delivery options, and more details for eateries during the COVID-19 outbreak. Find a restaurant in the guide, and consider ordering a meal for #TakeOutTuesday to support your Island businesses this week.


    Many thanks to Fexy Media for building this guide! For links to individual Island eateries, click here.

  • #TakeOutTuesday

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    The City is proud to work with the Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce to support our local businesses!

    To help local restaurants during this challenging time, the Chamber and City are launching a Take-Out Tuesday campaign.

    Since many local restaurants are now offering take-out or delivery, let's show our support by ordering out on Tuesdays. Spread the word! An updated list of restaurants offering take-out or delivery is available here.

    #takeouttuesday

Page last updated: 28 October 2021, 14:48