Business Resources During COVID-19 Outbreak
COVID-19 Guidance for Employers, Workers, and Businesses
Note: Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases, the Alameda County Health Officer is following the State of California guidelines and has issued Order No. 20-21 effective December 7, 2020 until January 4, 2021. This Order directs all individuals within the County to continue to Shelter in Place and reflects new restrictions imposed by the State of California in its Blueprint for a Safer Economy for Counties in the Purple Tier of the State’s reopening framework, and adds additional restrictions. Please refer to the revised Open/Closed Activities List for full details on business restrictions and this supplement to the regional stay at home order that provides details on grocery store capacity.
Note: All Fremont residents, businesses, and visitors to the city are now required to follow the Alameda County Public Health Department Order (20-08), requiring the public use of face coverings to protect residents and workers. For this reason, the City of Fremont has rescinded its own Executive Order, EO 2020-03, which was issued prior to the County Order and also required the use of face coverings at certain essential places of business to prevent the community spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). For more information, please read the Face Covering FAQ and printable sign template for business owners.
The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak is an unprecedented economic event. With significant disruptions to businesses across virtually all industries, impacts of the outbreak are inevitable. The disruption to our local, national, and global economies will be temporary and transitory, and businesses must put contingency plans in place now to mitigate the impact and prepare for recovery.
Businesses will need to triage essentials such as incident management and stakeholder communications, while making sure that the safety and well-being of workers affected remains top priority. While it is too early to fully understand the severity of this crisis and its long-term implications, there are several steps businesses can take now to help improve the situation.
The City of Fremont Economic Development Department has assembled suggestions and resources for our business community to help lessen the pandemic’s negative effects on your business and employees. We will continue to update our messages related to funding and technical assistance resources as they become available.
Additionally, the City encourages residents to continue support of all essential, open local Fremont businesses as the economic impact on small businesses has been especially dramatic. Residents can use this interactive map to find local restaurants and coffee shops offering take-out and delivery options, as well as other small businesses that are open during the current Shelter in Place Order.
Information is available in the below sections:
- Financial Resources
- Technical Assistance
- Labor and Workforce Policies
- Remote Workforce Technology Solutions
- Tips for Global Manufacturers
- Business Resilience
- Open Restaurants and Small Businesses Interactive Map
- Small Businesses "Open for Business" Campaign
- Commercial Eviction Moratorium FAQ
- Staying Informed
There are many national, state, and local financial aid resources available to both businesses and employees alike, including loans, funding, and extensions on payroll taxes.
- The second round of applications for the Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program will be open to small businesses and nonprofits that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic from February 2-8. Similar to the first round of applications, the program is administered by California's Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA) through a competitive bid award to its intermediary, Lendistry, and its statewide network of community-based lenders and partners. For more information on eligibility and the program’s priority criteria to see how awards are selected, please visit the Care Relief Grant website.
- In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the City of Fremont will waive penalties and interest on late payments for business tax certificate renewals. This applies to any business tax certificate that expired on December 31, 2020 and were due for renewal by February 29, 2020, and will continue for business tax certificates expiring on March 31, 2020 and up for renewal on April 30, 2020. With this initiative, City of Fremont hopes to ease some burden on our businesses that most need the support during this difficult time. City of Fremont’s Revenue Department has begun notifying affected businesses of this effort. Find additional details here.
- Small Business Emergency Relief Grant Program: The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for small businesses in Fremont. As a result of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the City of Fremont Economic Development Department has become the recipient of additional Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding, and with this allocation it is launching a $400,000 grant program to support small businesses in this time of need.
- Grants are valued at $5,000 or $10,000 based on the number of people employed at the time of the initial Shelter-in-Place Order was issued on March 17, 2020 by the Alameda County Health Officer. Selected businesses with 10 or fewer employees will be awarded $5,000 while selected businesses with 11-50 employees will be awarded $10,000.
- The House-passed Emergency Coronavirus Bill will provide significant relief to small businesses. Listen to the National Town Hall to find out what the stimulus package means for your business, featuring experts from U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business consultants and professionals that will discuss the $367 billion program for small businesses. Sample topics covered include SBA loans, CARES Act, Unemployment Insurance benefits, and small business tips.
- The Small Business Administration is now offering Disaster Assistance Loans to businesses in designated states and territories affected by COVID-19. This program is now open for applications. Information on qualification and application process can be found on this online portal. For technical assistance with preparing loan paperwork, contact the Alameda County Small Business Development Center.
- The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was authorized as part of the CARES Act. The PPP provides subsidized loans to small businesses with 500 or less employees, independent contractors, and 501(c)(3) nonprofits that can be forgiven if specific criteria are met. In order for a PPP loan to be forgiven, employees must be kept on the payroll or rehired for eight weeks and the funds must be used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest or utilities. PPP loans have a 2-year maturity and 1% interest rate can be obtained through any participating FDIC-insured bank or lender. Authorized loan values can be up to 8 weeks of payroll.
- Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) are low-interest loans that provide working capital to businesses to cover obligations and operating expenses that could have been paid had the disaster not occurred. Loans can be used to pay for fixed expenses, rent, payroll, accounts payable, extraordinary expenses incurred due to disaster and cannot be used to restructure existing debt.
- The Fremont Chamber of Commerce and the City of Fremont Economic Development Department in partnership with the Small Business Administration hosted a webinar that featured presentations on Economic Injury Disaster Loans and additional available financial resources.
- A State-level loan program for disasters is available through the California IBank’s Small Business Finance Center.
- California’s Employment Development Department has programs to help both employers and employees deal with the costs of illness, caring for ill family members, shorter hours, and closures. Employers can also request an extension on their payroll reports and payroll taxes.
- The waiting period for State Unemployment & Disability Insurance is waived for affected workers. More information can be found at the California Labor & Workforce Development Agency’s website.
- The California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GoBiz) has compiled additional resources and FAQs for businesses.
- Organizations and companies are also stepping up to help local businesses:
- Kiva US is offering small business applicants expanded loan sizes, now up to $15,000 with accompanying grace periods between 1 to 6 months.
- Intuit QuickBooks is teaming up with GoFundMe to create a Small Business Relief Initiative to help small businesses raise money to overcome challenges related to COVID-19. Small businesses can now create a fundraiser on the GoFundMe platform where can share their story with the public and request financial support to help cover business and employee-related expenses. Intuit will provide funds that will go directly to small businesses as part of the relief initiative.
- Facebook launched Facebook Boost, a small business grant program that offers $100 million in cash grants and ad credits to help small businesses affected by COVID-19.
- Google is donating $340 million in free ads to businesses with active Google ad accounts.
Resource partners listed below will be available for technical assistance, including preparing loan paperwork for financial programs, business advice, and workshops.
- Alameda County Small Business Development Center
- Quickbase has launched a COVID-19 Small Business Loan Accelerator to evaluate eligibility for financial assistance available through the recently passed CARES Act.
- Fremont Chamber of Commerce
- Alameda County Workforce Development Board
- Ohlone College Tri-City Career Center has expanded its scope of services by merging career development and talent acquisition models to better serve students, the community, and prospective employers. The City of Fremont and Ohlone College Tri-City Career Center recently co-hosted a virtual recruitment event, CareerBytes, that showcased local employers that are currently hiring and connecting them directly with job seekers.
- EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) outlines resources for small businesses.
- The California Green Business Network has provided guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting your business.
Labor and Workforce Policies
- Employers should implement workforce policies that reduce the spread of COVID-19 by following the best practices listed below and utilizing additional national and local resources as needed.
- As stated above, the House-passed Emergency Coronavirus Bill will provide significant relief to small businesses that cannot afford the employee costs associated with COVID-19. The bill provides a dollar-for-dollar reimbursement for coronavirus-related sick leave costs including paid emergency leave with two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave. Listen to the National Town Hall to find out what the stimulus package means for your business.
- The Alameda County Workforce Development Board can help employers with the Rapid Response (RR) program which is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor under the Dislocated Worker Program of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). RR is dedicated to averting layoffs and reemployment after layoffs. It serves two customers — employers and their workforce — by offering early intervention services to employers who are facing downsizing or layoffs, as well as reemployment solutions to employers and their workforce who have been impacted by permanent layoffs or office closures. Some of the services may include customized workshops, training, up-skilling, retooling, certifications, or skill matching.
- Employers should:
- Implement policies and practices to increase the physical distance between employees and between employees and the public (e.g., telecommuting and teleconferencing).
- Establish lines of communication among employees, clients, and business partners.
- Research ways to further protect employees based on the industry or operations.
- Consider the impacts from local school closures on those in your workforce who have children.
- Recognize employees who are well, but may be taking care of ill family members even if they are working remotely.
- For more information on the benefits employees impacted by COVID-19 are entitled to, please check the chart below or visit the California Labor & Workforce Development Agency Coronavirus webpage.
Remote Workforce Technology Solutions
At this time, due to the Shelter In Place Order issued by the County Health Officer on March 16, 2020, it is required that all non-essential businesses (i.e., businesses not offering healthcare services, emergency first responder services, utility, or food services, etc.) close their offices and offer employees remote work-from-home options, if possible. Businesses can find available technology services and best practices to aid them below.
- Remote work is being aided by several technology companies, including Zoom, Meet, Mural, and Stormz, that are offering free or expanded services for small businesses.
- This Ultimate Guide to Remote Work by Zapier highlights lessons from a remote team of over 200 members.
- Facebook has created a Business Resource Hub to share best practices, tools, and assessments.
- Emergency remote work kits are available from GoToMeeting.
Tips for Global Manufacturers
Fremont is home to many manufacturers that rely on local and global supply chains. There are actions that global manufacturers can take to assess and respond to critical operations such as pursuing alternative sourcing strategies and communicating with key stakeholders on change in supply and demand volumes. PwC shared some excellent recommendations that global manufacturers can follow now which include:
- Transporting available inventory to areas away from quarantine zones and near ports where it can be accessed for shipping.
- Securing capacity and delivery status for Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers, and securing allocated supplies and overtime assembly capacity where possible.
- Buying ahead to procure inventory and raw material that are in short supply in impacted areas.
- Securing future air transportation as supply and capacity become available, shortening what might otherwise be ocean freight-based lead times.
- Activating pre-approved parts or raw-material substitutions in places where the primary supplier is impacted, but a secondary supplier is not.
- Activating product redesign or material certification resources where reliable second sources of parts or raw material are not already available.
- Updating customers about delays and adjusting customer allocations to optimize profits on near-term revenue or to meet contractual terms.
- Shaping demand by, for example, offering a discount on available inventory in cases where supply may be short for late winter to early spring.
- Introducing new products previously destined for China into other plants.
- Assess mid-term implications.
Below are some best practices to keep your business running and minimize problems:
- Develop a business continuity and crisis management plan.
- Create a dedicated crisis management team.
- Identify your most important business functions and adjust staffing to maintain them.
- Keep track of and respond to changes in customer behavior, and prepare to change how you do things to maintain your most important operations.
- Identify key business functions, jobs/roles, and elements in your supply chain, and think about how to operate if these are impacted by the pandemic.
- For businesses with multiple locations, allow local managers to act on what is happening locally.
- Collaborate both internally and externally.
- Craft a stakeholder communications strategy.
In an effort to continue encouraging the community to consider supporting local Fremont restaurants and small businesses, the City’s Economic Development Department is working to bring attention to small businesses that remain open during the pandemic. The newest addition to the toolbox makes it easier for anyone to support local from anywhere. An interactive map you can use from any device to find local restaurants and coffee shops offering take-out and delivery options, as well as other small businesses that are open during the current Shelter in Place Order.
This is not an exhaustive list. The Economic Development team continues to add open restaurants and small businesses as they are identified. To get your favorite restaurant listed here, please send an email to Economic Development Department or Fremont Chamber of Commerce.
NOTE: Click on the upper left icon for a list of all businesses. Click on upper right icon to go full screen and search function.
In an effort to highlight small businesses and restaurants that remain open during COVID-19, the City’s Economic Development Department in partnership with the Fremont Chamber of Commerce is distributing eye-catching signs to be placed in windows of open businesses. Small businesses and the retail sector have been undoubtedly and adversely affected due to the pandemic. This effort hopes to draw more customers to the small businesses by alerting them that the business is open, and to encourage the community to support small businesses in Fremont.
Commercial Eviction Moratorium FAQ
On March 27, 2020, the Fremont City Council ratified an Executive Order establishing a temporary moratorium on evictions of small-scale commercial tenants. This new Executive Order imposes regulations related to evictions from all qualifying small business commercial units where the failure to pay rent is due to income loss resulting from the declared Coronavirus (COVID-19) public health crisis.
The City of Fremont has announced a local emergency, meaning there is a high risk of illness to the local population. Your business can help slow the spread of COVID-19 and lessen the number of people infected by following guidance from public health officials. Information is changing frequently. Please stay informed.