Innovating to Serve the Community: Pandemic Impacts Ridgefield Small Businesses
COVID has been a game-changer for many local businesses in Ridgefield.
Innovation and creativity were key as many small businesses found ways to survive in a contact-less world. They quickly shifted their business models and catered to the needs of the community by offering curbside pick up, delivery, and in many cases, revamping their website to allow for easy online ordering.
Ridgefield businesses and nonprofits took advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). As reported by the Hartford Courant, “In Connecticut, nearly 8,600 businesses received loans from the federal government through a $660 billion stimulus package that helped small businesses stay afloat during the pandemic.”
But, even with all of this, maintaining and growing revenue continue to present significant challenges for local businesses.
Since the onset of the pandemic, three downtown Ridgefield businesses (in close proximity to one another) closed their doors: Kafo (moving to an online model), Lucy’s (moving to a smaller location in September), and Tundi. Avenue K, located at 446 Main Street, closed in mid-February.
Good news! J. McLaughlin, an upscale clothing and accessory store with 140 locations, opened their doors at 393 Main Street on March 6. The shop was only open for a couple of weeks before being closed due to COVID but they continued to sell merchandise online (they are now open for walk-in customers!)
Let’s help our small businesses by shopping local! Most have opened their doors to foot traffic and continue to offer online shopping opportunities for shoppers not yet comfortable entering stores.
And, to all of the small businesses in Ridgefield. Together with Fairfield County Bank, we have launched “Why Small Businesses Matter [Reimagined]” to help businesses rebound from the pandemic. One question posed is “What do you want the community to know? Are there ways for the community to help you and other local businesses to prosper?”
State of Connecticut support for Small Businesses
DECD's COVID-19 Business Emergency Response Unit: The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) has created a COVID-19 Business Emergency Response Unit dedicated to assisting businesses navigate resources and develop new resources. A dedicated phone line is available at 860-500-2333 to provide assistance to Connecticut's small businesses for this purpose.
Grants available to Connecticut manufacturers producing needed COVID-19 supplies: Connecticut manufacturers can now apply for grants of up to $75,000 to assist in the production of critical equipment and supplies needed to respond to the COVID-19 emergency. The grants, offered through the state’s Manufacturing Innovation Fund Voucher Program, can be used for working capital, new equipment, and other purposes that help companies build capacity or repurpose their operations. Applications for the funding will be reviewed and approved by the Department of Economic and Community Development, in partnership with the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology, based on the state’s current needs for medical equipment and supplies related to the pandemic. Funding for this short-term program is limited to $1.3 million and requires a one-to-one match from participating businesses. Learn more about the program and the application process by visiting https://ctmvp.ccat.us.
The Paycheck Protection Program prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses. Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards. For more information and to apply, click here.
Small business owner's guide to the CARES Act: On March 27, 2020, the United States Congress approved the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide the country with relief from the impact of COVID-19. For a guide about how the act will impact small businesses, click here.
Connecticut Recovery Bridge Loan Program: To provide emergency cash flow relief to Connecticut small businesses and nonprofits that have been negatively impacted by the global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Lamont created the Connecticut Recovery Bridge Loan Program. Administered by DECD, the program is for businesses and nonprofits that have fewer than 100 employees. Qualifying organizations can apply for zero-interest loans of up to $75,000 or three months of operating expenses (whichever is lesser). This $50 million short-term emergency loan program will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. As of March 27, 2020, the initial round of funding for this program is closed for applications to ensure that those that have been received so far can be processed efficiently and money distributed as quickly as possible. For those that have already submitted an application, additional documentation can be sent within seven days of submittal.
SBA assistance: On March 16, the U.S. Small Business Administration approved Governor Lamont's request to begin offering disaster-relief loans to Connecticut small businesses and nonprofits. Companies in the state can now apply for loans of up to $2 million through a special page on the SBA website. SBA also has more valuable information for businesses.
Tax filing extensions: The Department of Revenue Services has extended deadlines for filing and payments associated with certain state business tax returns. Details are on DRS’s website.
Unemployment assistance: Workers directly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic no longer must be actively searching for work to qualify for unemployment assistance. And employers who are furloughing workers can use the Department of Labor’s shared work program, which allows businesses to reduce working hours and have those wages supplemented with unemployment insurance. DOL has more information about these and other changes.
Business Interruption Insurance: A business interruption insurance policy should list or describe the types of events it covers. Events that are not described in the policy are typically not covered. It is important to review the policy exclusions, coverage limits, and applicable deductibles with your agent, broker or insurer. The Connecticut Insurance Department has an FAQ that provides more information.
Reimbursement of medical leave costs for small and medium-sized businesses: The Connecticut Department of Insurance reminds small and medium-sized employers of recent guidance from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on COVID-19 - related medical leave.
Learn more HERE.
Learn about CT DECD Coronavirus Business Recovery HERE.