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Opportunities Available for Businesses Strained by COVID-19

The impact of the coronavirus has businesses and employees reeling financially. Businesses are limited on they can serve customers, which results in few staff needed to conduct the remaining business.

Last week, a webinar was held among business and employment officials explaining options to help keep local businesses open, and employees cover lost wages.

The meeting included Sidney Economic Development Director Melissa Norgard, Lisa Laws from the Sidney office of the Nebraska Department of Labor, Sara Bennett from the Nebraska Business Development Center, Cheyenne County Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Hope Feeney and Brittany Hardin from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.

"I know some businesses have been severely impacted, especially tourism industries," Bennett said.

She went on to explain resources available, including the Nebraska Business Resiliency Resources at She encouraged businesses to look for support through the CARES Act, the $2 trillion stimulus package. She said there are loans available for up to $2 million. Loan rates vary from 3.75 percent for businesses to 2.75 percent for non-profit organizations. There are also direct loans from the Small Business Administration. She said business loans may be forgiven, if the company maintains its employee numbers and compensation levels. Some notes may not be forgiven, but offered at a very low rate.

Laws reviewed the procedures for workers to apply for benefits. She said several state requirements have been waived because of the coronavirus, including the one-week waiting period, charging employers and work search.

Also regarding workers, there will be an additional $600 in federal funds, per week, above what they receive from the State of Nebraska. The $600 will be retroactively paid for all eligible weeks claims from March 29 to July 31. A claim must be filed every week. Claims can be filed online at

Hardin discussed options including Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). She said the disaster-related funding is approved for COVID (coronavirus) impacts. She said there are also Small Business Administration (SBA) resourcing, banking options and federal opportunities. Hardin encourages business owners to first meet with their banker.

"We really encourage businesses to go to their bank, have their finances in order," she said.

Norgard discussed options in the local market. She said she is working on LB840 funds for small businesses, forgivable and no-interest loans, and support for businesses with two to 25 employees. She said she will be making a presentation in the April 14 city council meeting in response to the impact on businesses.

Feeney said the Chamber is actively promoting businesses, publishing a list of businesses that are open and as as those who are relying on take-out, delivery and curbside service.


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