Douglas County Commissioner Chris Boice said the county is doing all it can to get small businesses what information is available about both state and federal programs that could help them weather the financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis. It’s a team effort with The Partnership and other local groups, he said.

There are some delays and limitations for receiving some of the loans and other assistance recently authorized through the federal CARES Act, though, Boice said. And the county is monitoring the situation daily to see when funds will become available.

Small businesses seeking the loans must go through a bank that’s been qualified as a Small Business Association 7A lender. Locally, the Bank of America, Banner Bank, Oregon Pacific Bank, Rogue Credit Union, Umpqua Bank, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo and First Interstate Bank have been qualified.

However, none of those banks can process applications yet, because they haven’t received a list of rules for the loans from the Small Business Association.

Some of the banks have a pre-application process that gets businesses in the queue for the program, Boice said. He said he’s heard the rules could be out as early as Friday.

Boice is a small businessman himself. He’s the owner of Big O Tires and Midas in Roseburg, and has had to lay off staff.

That’s not because he’s been forced to shut his doors. The governor’s executive order that closed businesses like hair salons and forced restaurants to operate on a drive-thru and takeout basis only, doesn’t apply to his businesses.

At Big O and Midas, layoffs are due to a reduction in the number of customers seeking their services. Similarly, he said Logger’s Taphouse has had to lay off staff because while they’re still doing takeout and delivery for their pizza, they don’t have people coming into the restaurant.

“Others are in the same boat. There’s lots of them that are in the same boat,” Boice said.

And one problem with the loan program, he said, is it’s really designed to help with the payroll, to keep people working. If you aren’t able to do that, the loan isn’t as helpful.

Boice said many business people are feeling uncertain about the future.

“A lot of folks aren’t really interested in a loan because all that is going to do is increase their overhead if they ever do get back to a place of normal,” Boice said.

Loan forgiveness will be available for many of the businesses who take out loans through the program.

For those who have been laid off, or who can’t run their business, help is available for them too. But mostly that’s through the state unemployment program, Boice said.

“They’ve altered the unemployment program for the first time in history to allow for small business people who were self employed to be able to collect unemployment if their business isn’t able to run. And that’s going to be a big help,” he said.

The county is also working on figuring out a program to help businesses impacted by COVID-19 through its industrial development fund.”

My guess is that there’s going to be probably far more needs than there are resources, so we’re trying to prioritize those and strategically figure out if and how we’re going to be able to use that funding,” Boice said.

Boice said businesses may also want to reach out to their lenders to see about suspending mortgage or lease payments.

“My first advice, I guess, would be to personally speak to your creditors. The second thing that I would do is, if you need assistance contact your local bank. And then the third thing is if you can’t get what you need through that, then I would look for information for all the government resources,” Boice said.

More information is available at the county’s coronavirus webpage at http://www.co.douglas.or.us/media_room/coronavirus.asp, where updates on the CARES Act program will also be posted. Boice can be reached at 541-440-4201.

Reporter Carisa Cegavske can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

(8) comments

Mike

Attention Douglas County Commissioners. "Americans chose saving lives over saving economy."

Most Americans say saving lives by preventing the spread of COVID-19 should be the top priority for the U.S. government as the global coronavirus pandemic strains the nation's health care system and social distancing measures ravage the economy, according to a new poll.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/americans-support-drastic-efforts-to-stop-coronavirus-expect-crisis-to-last-for-months-in-public-agenda-usa-today-ipsos-poll/ar-BB1275xd

Mike

Today's Douglas County Public Health Network (DPHN) message mentions nothing about health. It is entirely devoted to assisting struggling businesses.

file:///C:/Users/Mike/Downloads/Press-Release-SBA-Loans.pdf

Mike

I guess someone is reading my comments. This message appears to be gone from the DPHN website.

Mike

Now its back again.

People are concerned about the virus and local health care details. This article is tone deaf to the general public.

Mike

Wow. Finally one of our ghostlike commissioners magically appear and his article is entirely devoted to coronavirus' impact on business. He makes no report to residents, no report on how local hospitals are dealing with their shortage of PPE and increased patient load. No report on whether the VA Hospital and ICU is going to be reopened. No report directing the public where to find information regarding coronavirus testing or any instructions counter to the last public comment at the County Commissioner meeting where Commissioner Freeman said, “there is no call for social distancing, there is no call for closing events.” His only comment to residents is to contact the state unemployment program if you are laid off.

I’ve discussed with Commissioner Boice and emailed 14 suggested actions the county could be doing for its residents. I didn’t make them up. They are transparent actions other counties are doing for their residents to help them understand the seriousness of their situation. Commissioner Boice has ignored each of my suggestions. During my first and only conversation with Commissioner Boice, he loudly told me “you don’t know what you are talking about” and called my suggestions “garbage.” That’s how he treats people the first time he meets them. He doesn’t know me or anything about me. I’m willing to bet business owners who contacted Commissioner Boice didn’t receive the same lack of consideration.

The Douglas Public Health Network is responsible for providing information, locally and they should be allowed to release more specific information about the virus and status of care available within our County. There is a fine line between informing and panicking the public, and they are walking well inside it.

Mike

Americans won't begin to see direct payments from the coronavirus stimulus bill until at least April 13 and it could take 20 weeks for all the checks to be mailed. The timeline means tens of millions of Americans will have to wait to get badly needed assistance, despite repeated earlier suggestions from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that the money would go out as soon as April 6.

The IRS will make 60 million payments beginning the week of April 13 for taxpayers who previously provided their direct deposit information through their 2018 or 2019 tax returns. Three weeks later, on the week of May 4, the IRS expects to start issuing paper checks to individuals whose bank information isn't already on file, a process that will take much longer.

Maybe we'll get our checks about the same time as our coronavirus tests.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/02/politics/stimulus-20-weeks-irs/index.html

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