COVID-19

COVID-19 Numbers To Know

 

RUTHERFORD COUNTY EMERGENCY SMALL BUSINESS GRANT APPLICATION INFORMATION (MAY 4 - 15, 2020)

The  Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce and Rutherford County Economic Development have teamed up to provide an Emergency Small Business Assistance Grant in an amount up to $2,500 for qualifying Rutherford County businesses. Together, these two organizations are committed to help the Rutherford County business community during these uncertain times. They understand that COVID-19 and the corresponding mandatory closure or change in service requirements could jeopardize many local small businesses. In an effort to ensure businesses remain viable and doors are able to reopen, an emergency grant program has been created to offer funding to help cover fixed operation costs for our most vulnerable businesses.

 

GRANT FUND DETAILS

  • Funding for eligible operational costs (i.e. rent, mortgage, utilities, etc.) incurred between May 1 through 31, 2020.
  • Maximum grant amount is $2,500 per company with like ownership.
  • Grants will be distributed once approved by a review team.

 

BASIC CRITERIA FOR ACCESSING THE APPLICATION FOR GRANT ASSISTANCE

  • Business has a physical presence in Rutherford County and can show direct impact by the government-mandated shut down due to COVID-19.
  • Business has 20 or less FTE (full-time equivalent employees) in Rutherford County.
  • Business is in good standing with regard to state and local taxes and licenses.
  • Business can provide information to support operational expenses.
  • Exclusions: national and regional chains with no local ownership.
  • Local franchise owners can apply.
  • There is a scoring matrix that will ultimately determine if a company qualifies for the grant dollars and the level that will be awarded.

 

Between May 4 and May 15, you can visit the Rutherford County Economic Development or Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce Facebook page for more details and a link to the application.

 

CARES ACT INFORMATION

Congress passed a massive piece of legislation, the CARES Act. This comprehensive act approaches the COVID-19 crisis from every angle. This is the latest and most expansive information the relief bills passed along with the most recent updates.

 

This email includes: fact sheets from most of the House Committees detailing the programs enacted and funded under their jurisdiction, detailed reports from the Congressional Research Service on several of the tax provisions, the direct payments to individuals and unemployment insurance expansion – and lastly, several of the documents just released yesterday from the Department of the Treasury issuing guidance for the Paycheck Protection Act. This is the loan program that provides small businesses with funds to pay up to 8 weeks of payroll costs including benefits. Funds can also be used to pay interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities. Funds are provided in the form of loans that will be fully forgiven when used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities provided certain requirements are met.

 

Some of the items contained in these documents you are more likely to find some answers to your questions:

 

  1. A topline summary of the entire CARES Act.
  2. Info on the direct payments to individuals. This is one of the items that people obviously have the most questions about.
  3. Small Business disaster loans that were triggered by the SBA disaster declaration and authorized in the first two pieces of Coronavirus legislation.
  4. “Payroll Protection Loans” – I’ve included quite a bit of info on these as the guidance was just released on them. These are SBA backed loans that are issued by any FDIC-insured financial institution. They are also eligible for forgiveness if they are used for payroll. 
  5. Info on bridge loans and other funding for 501 (c) (3) organizations.
  6. Info on expanded Unemployment benefits. The federal government is providing an additional $600 in weekly federal assistance. The additional $600 in federal benefits will be for weeks ending April 4 – July 31. Eligibility requirements have also been expanded to include the self-employed, sole proprietors, etc. However, all COVID-19 related unemployment claims and all associated rules are managed and enforced by the NC Division of Employment Security (NDCDES). NCDES is awaiting guidance for issuing those payments. Any benefits owed will be paid retroactively. The best source for information about filing claims and learning about employer responsibilities is the following NCDES Link: https://des.nc.gov/need-help/covid-19-information. I have included further details.
  7. Info on the temporary suspension of payments for federal student loans. The Act also revises provisions related to campus-based aid, supplemental educational-opportunity grants, federal work-study, subsidized loans, Pell grants, and foreign institutions.

 

We encourage you to read through it all when you are able.

 

SMALL BUSINESS RESOURCES

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Coronavirus Emergency Loans Small Business Guide and Checklist

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 (PPP), the initiative provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses. Importantly, these loans may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls during the crisis or restore their payrolls afterward. The administration has released initial guidelines; they are available at www.treasury.gov. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has issued this guide to help small businesses and self-employed individuals check eligibility and prepare to file for a loan. Small businesses and sole proprietors can begin applying on April 3. Independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply beginning on April 10.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Coronavirus Emergency Loans Small Business Guide and Checklist

 

Facebook Small Business Grants Program

Facebook is offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses. They will begin taking applications in the coming weeks. In the meantime, you can sign up to receive more information when it becomes available. For additional resources about how you can help your business prepare for and manage through disruptions such as COVID-19, visit their recently-launched Business Resource Hub.

Facebook Small Business Grants Program

 

SBA Disaster Relief Loan

In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C. and territories are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. The loan advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Funds will be made available within three days of a successful application, and this loan advance will not have to be repaid.

SBA Disaster Relief Loan

 

NC Restaurant Workers Relief Fund

Any hospitality employee of a North Carolina restaurant or hotel facing significant financial hardship due to a lay-off, furlough or reduction in hours as a direct result of the Coronavirus Pandemic – COVID-19. Examples include but are not limited to: cook, server, dishwasher, housekeeper, bartender.

NC Restaurant Workers Relief Fund

 

NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan Program

The Golden LEAF Foundation announced $15 million in funding to launch a rapid recovery loan program in response to economic losses related to Coronavirus (COVID-19). Golden LEAF funding will support the NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan Program by enabling loans to be made to eligible businesses for up to $50,000 with zero interest and no payments for six months. If not repaid in six months, the loan will automatically convert to a term loan. The NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan Program is managed by the NC Rural Center, a statewide nonprofit that has been supporting small business owners for more than 30 years. The Rural Center will lead a broad coalition of nonprofit lending partners to directly assist small business owners. Participating Rapid Recovery organizations include Business Expansion Funding Corporation (BEFCOR), Carolina Small Business Development Fund, Mountain BizWorks, Natural Capital Investment Fund and Thread Capital.

NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan Program

 

IPDC Information

On behalf of the Isothermal Planning Development Commission (IPDC) and the Region C Workforce Development Board, we want to make our small businesses aware of the services that IPDC can provide to businesses that are looking for COVID-19 related disaster assistance, and that are dealing with COVID-19 related layoffs.

 

IPDC is available to assist local businesses with grant/loan applications and employer needs (ex. unemployment, employee needs, etc). IPDC is utilizing their website to share resources available for businesses and individuals (https://regionc.org/covid19resources/), and they are updating this information daily. They are also sharing community updates and resources on their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/NCRegionC).

 

If your business is looking to apply for a COVID-19 disaster assistance loan program through SBA, GoldenLEAF or another organization, IPDC staff can assist you. They can help you complete and file your application or assist you with any questions you may have during the application process. Please reach out to Steve Lockett (slockett@regionc.org), Sarah Kopkin (skopkin@regionc.org) or Nick Byrd (nbyrd@regionc.org).

 

If your business is having to lay off employees or even shut down, IPDC has resources that can assist you. Please reach out to Steve Lockett (slockett@regionc.org) or Patty Thompson (pthompson@regionc.org).

 

If your business is looking to hire people during this time, IPDC can help you promote the job openings, and help you screen candidates. Please reach out to Sarah Crank (scrank@regionc.org) or Annette Staley (astaley@regionc.org).

 

 

UPDATE (Monday, April 27, 2020)

For Temporarily or Partially Shut-Down Businesses, Churches or School Buildings Due to COVID-19 Regarding Water Pipes

 

Water in building pipes while businesses, churches, school buildings and other activities are shut down or have unused floors or sections becomes stagnant. Conditions may increase the risk of the growth and spread of waterborne bacteria, such as Legionella or biofilm, in the pipes. Stagnant water can also lead to low or undetectable levels of disinfectant, such as chlorine. To ensure the safety of your building’s water system and devices after a prolonged shutdown, please review the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website with detailed information on reactivating plumbing systems at: cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/building-water-system.html.

 

Please contact the Water & Sewer Department at 828.248.5205 with any questions or concerns.

 

UPDATE (Thursday, April 16, 2020)

The Town of Forest City has amended the proclamation of a State of Emergency. For more information, please review the amended proclamation here: Town of Forest City Amended Proclamation of a State of Emergency.

 

In response to the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), the Town of Forest City previously suspended utility service disconnections due to non-payment of utility bills during the month of April 2020. Earlier this month, NC Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order No. 124 which imposes further guidelines for utility providers through May 31, 2020.

 

For the month of May 2020, the Town will suspend all utility service disconnections and waive late fees due to non-payment of residential utility bills. These measures will assist residents during the North Carolina’s Stay-At-Home order and help continue to
slow the spread of the coronavirus.

 

Please remember, however, that bills will continue to be issued as usual and that all customers are still responsible for paying their utility bills. To prevent account balances from becoming unmanageable, utility customers are strongly encouraged to continue making payments on their accounts during the time that disconnection has been suspended. Please contact Town Hall for payment plan options.

 

During this time, Town buildings continue to be closed to the public to allow staff to work safely to deliver essential services to our utility customers. Payments for utility bills that need to be made in person will only be accepted at the drive-thru window. If you plan to use the drive-thru window, please bring a copy of your bill to keep the line moving. We encourage you to use one of the following options:

 

  • Mail your payment to PO Box 728, Forest City, NC 28043.
  • Online payments can be made through our website at https://townofforestcity.csibillpay.com/Account/Login.aspx.
  • Utilize the drop box that will be open 24 hours daily for payments after regular business hours or for anyone who does not have time to wait in the drive-thru line. The drop box is located on the side of the building at the drive-thru window.

 

Garbage and recycling collections will continue on a normal schedule unless notified otherwise.

 

Please contact the following departments for any questions or concerns:

 

  • Customer Service/Utility Payments – 828.245.0148
  • Town Administration – 828.248.5202
  • Human Resources – 828.248.5242
  • Parks & Recreation – 828.248.5220
  • Building Inspections/Planning – 828.248.5239
  • Public Works – 828.245.0149
  • Forest City Fire & Rescue – 828.245.2111 (non-emergency number)
  • Forest City Police Department – 828-245-5555 (non-emergency number)

 

UPDATE (Friday, April 10, 2020)

Governor Roy Cooper took action to the address the spread of COVID-19 by issuing stronger social distancing requirements and speeding up the process to get benefits to people out of work through Executive Order No. 131.

 

Three key areas are addressed in Executive Order 131.

  • The first requires retail stores that are still operating to implement new social distancing policies to make shopping safer for customers and employees.
  • The second makes earlier COVID-19 guidelines mandatory for nursing facilities, and recommends other long-term care facilities to do the same.
  • The third area is unemployment benefits, issuing changes that will speed up certain benefit payments to those who are out of work.

 

“North Carolina continues to take strong action to slow the spread of COVID-19, and today’s Order will help make stores safer, protect those living and working in nursing homes, and get more unemployment benefits out quicker. Our state is resilient, and we will get through this crisis together if we all do our part,” said Governor Cooper.

 

The full order can be read here: Executive Order 131.

 

UPDATE (Monday, March 30, 2020)

The Town of Forest City is committed to the well-being, health and safety of our community. In the midst of the unique situation regarding COVID-19, we want to embrace how we are all in this together with optimism, kindness and hope.

 

Despite our physical distances, social media has the power to bring us together. Forest City residents are using various social media platforms to share how they are making the best of this challenging period by enjoying time with their families, exercising, baking, helping others and more. Countless people are spreading joy with their posts, and the Town of Forest City would like to highlight their efforts. Tag the Town of Forest City with hashtags #ForestCityForCommunity and #FCForCommunity on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so we can give you or your family a shoutout! We will share inspiring posts in the hopes of uplifting spirits by showcasing our resilient and strong community. These posts are heartwarming demonstrations of the positive steps that Forest City is taking during these unprecedented times. If you cannot post to social media, share your photos with Courtney at courtneyashley@townofforestcity.com.

 

Please remember to follow the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Public Health while finding ways to have fun safely. This includes social distancing of six feet from other people, coughing or sneezing into your elbow, washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, cleaning and disinfecting frequently used surfaces and avoiding touching your face.

 

The Town is working closely with Rutherford County health officials as well as county, state and federal officials to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Please monitor townofforestcity.com/covid-19 and the Town’s social media for updates regarding COVID-19.

 

UPDATE (Monday, March 30, 2020)

The Town of Forest City recognizes the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the citizens of the Town of Forest City, Rutherford County, the State of North Carolina and our country. We appreciate the cooperation and sacrifices being made by the citizens of Forest City in fighting this virus. Beyond the threat to health and safety, the negative impacts of COVID-19 on the citizens of Forest City include lost wages, school closures and reduced access to goods and services. On March 17, 2020, the Town announced a temporary suspension of disconnections for all utilities through April 14, 2020 and pledged to continue to monitor the situation and make further adjustments as needed.

 

The Town of Forest City is again providing more leniency for customers who need additional time to pay their electric and water and sewer bills.

  • The period of suspended disconnections has been extended through May 12, 2020.
  • Late fees will not be assessed during this temporary suspension of disconnections.

 

Customers will continue to receive bills and are encouraged to pay what they can to avoid building up a large balance that will be harder to pay off later. Bills will continue to accrue as the Town does not have the authority to waive past due balances.

 

Please contact us at 828.245.0148 if you have any questions. Additional resources for anyone experiencing financial difficulties can be found at https://www.ncdhhs.gov/assistance/low-income-services or by contacting the Rutherford County Department of Social Services.

 

The Town will continue to review and evaluate this policy in the days ahead. Please stay safe and practice steps to protect our community, yourself and your family.

 

 

UPDATE (Friday, March 27, 2020)

A new Stay At Home Order from Rutherford County, the Town of Bostic, the Town of Forest City, the Town of Lake Lure, the Town of Rutherfordton and the Town of Spindale directs residents to stay at home effective at 6:00 AM on Saturday, March 28, 2020. This Order will be in place for three weeks until April 17, 2020 at 6:00 AM. Please see the full press release and Frequently Asked Questions below.

 

 

UPDATE (Tuesday, March 17, 2020)

A State of Emergency has been declared in the Town of Forest City.

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released some helpful tips on how to protect yourself from COVID-19.

 

The coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) is a rapidly evolving situation and the Town of Forest City is working hard to deliver prompt services to the public while keeping the public and employees safe.  The Town continues to evaluate all policies and operating procedures to ensure the safe delivery of services to our citizens and utility customers. 

 

Effective immediately, all Town of Forest City buildings and facilities will be closed to the public until further notice, with the exception of the Forest City Police Department.  This closure includes Mooneyham Library, Callison Recreation Center, Cool Springs Gymnasium, Golf Course Clubhouse, POPS, Forest City Fire & Rescue, Water Treatment Plant, Public Works, Town Hall, and the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

 

During this closure, payments for utility bills that need to be made in person will only be accepted at the drive-thru window.  If you plan to use the drive-thru window, please bring a copy of your bill to keep the line moving. We encourage you to use one of the following options:

 

  • Mail your payment to PO Box 728, Forest City, NC 28043.
  • Make an online payment through our website at https://townofforestcity.csibillpay.com/Account/Login.aspx.
  • Utilize the drop box that will be open 24 hours daily for payments after regular business hours or for anyone who does not have time to wait in the drive-thru line. The drop box is located on the side of the building at the drive-thru window.

 

The Town has evaluated its policy on disconnection of utilities for nonpayment. The next disconnection date will be delayed until April 14.  We will continue to evaluate the policy as this emergency situation unfolds.  Any additional changes will be posted to the Town’s website and to social media pages. 

 

Garbage and recycling collections will continue on a normal schedule unless notified otherwise.

 

Please contact the following departments for any questions or concerns:

 

 

  • Customer Service/Utility Payments – 828.245.0148
  • Town Administration – 828.248.5202
  • Human Resources – 828.248.5242
  • Parks & Recreation – 828.248.5220
  • Building Inspections/Planning – 828.248.5239
  • Public Works – 828.245.0149
  • Forest City Fire & Rescue – 828.245.2111 (non-emergency number)
  • Police Department – 828-245-5555 (non-emergency number)
 
Please see notes regarding limited staff in the following departments:

Finance

Utilities & Services