Fairfax County establishes small business recovery microloan fund

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has approved a $2.5 million fund to support small business recovery through microloans and counseling. This response to the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic marks the first time the county has established a loan program for businesses.

The Fairfax County Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Fund will provide eligible businesses with fewer than 50 employees up to $20,000 at 0% interest that can be used for critical operating expenses to offset some of the impacts of the shutdown.

The program also will assist businesses in identifying optimal federal or local programs where additional relief may be available. Applications will be accepted starting April 28.

“Fairfax County has set up the Small Business Covid-19 Recovery Fund to help small businesses survive this unprecedented economic situation. These businesses can apply for this program in addition to the federal programs that are in place,” said Victor Hoskins, president and CEO, Fairfax County Economic Development Authority.

“Small businesses are an essential part of our county’s economy,” Hoskins said. “This fund will help many county businesses stay afloat and also prosper in the economic recovery.”

Through an existing partnership with the county, the Community Business Partnership (CBP) will administer the program and lead a network to provide small business counseling. The county chose to work with this nonprofit because it is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) in Fairfax County and has knowledge and experience making loans to small businesses.

The microloans will be available through the CBP to “for profit” businesses with one or more commercial locations in Fairfax County, including the principal place of business. Applicants must have fewer than 50 employees, been in business for at least two years and possess a valid Business, Professional and Occupational License (BPOL) from Fairfax County to qualify. Loans can be used to cover working capital, equipment, rent, debt payments and other operating expenses.

In a webinar presented yesterday by the FCEDA, CBP Executive Director Mark Scarano noted that the program is being targeted at helping keep existing businesses going, not to shut down businesses or create new ones.

In addition to helping businesses get back on (or stay on) their feet, Fairfax County’s goal is to get as many companies as possible educated on the loan options available to them. The county will be marketing this through its normal channels, and also making specific outreach to owners who speak languages other than English.

In the webinar yesterday, Scarano recommended that businesses look at other possible sources of capital. The U.S. Small Business Administration, for example, is overseeing recovery-focused loans and other resources.

To view a recorded version of the webinar, click here.

Principal repaid to this microloan program will be deposited into a revolving loan fund, which will continue to deliver growth capital to small businesses for the recovery period and beyond. This fund, in addition to the Federal CARES Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), is designed to help businesses weather the current restrictions and be positioned to resume operations in the future.

A crucial component of the Fairfax County microloan program is the business counseling, which is part of the application process and will continue through the life of the loan. to inform and support small businesses as they access the best program for their situation.

“Small businesses make up 94 percent of our base and account for almost one third of jobs in our community,” said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeffrey C. McKay. “There are a number of federal programs available right now to help small businesses survive. Fairfax County microloan funding and supportive counseling are complementary to those programs. We recognize small businesses are critical to the well-being of our communities and to the county’s economic recovery.”

This program is funded from the Economic Opportunity Reserve. The Board of Supervisors created the reserve to stimulate economic growth and make strategic economic investments. The Department of Economic Initiatives will oversee and monitor the microloan program. For more information visit the Fairfax County website or contact the Department of Economic Initiatives at Economicinitiatives@fairfaxcounty.gov.

“We will all get through these challenges,” Hoskins said. “It shows that the greatness of our nation, our region, our county, our people is solid. It’s not the circumstances, it’s how we respond to the circumstances. We will get through this.”

Dulles, Reagan airports to receive emergency aid

The two major airports in Northern Virginia expect to receive a combined $229.4 million in emergency federal aid—with Washington Dulles International Airport allotted $143.4 million and Reagan National Airport about $86 million—to support continued operations and replace lost revenue because of the pandemic.

The allotment for the two airports, both of which are overseen by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), are part of the $10 billion earmarked to airports across the United States in the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Recovery and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

This funding will support continuing operations and replace lost revenue resulting from the sharp decline in passenger traffic and other airport business due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The funds are available for airport capital expenditures, airport operating expenses including payroll and utilities, and airport debt payments, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in a release.

Under the CARES Act, airports must retain 90% of their workforce as of March 27 until the end of the year, excluding retirements and workers who voluntarily leave. The requirement can only be suspended if it is deemed an “undue burden” by the Department of Transportation secretary, currently Elaine Chao, according to the Washington Business Journal.

In a separate agreement, 10 U.S. airlines have reached an agreement in principle to accept $25 billion in grants from the government because of the economic upheaval from the pandemic. Alaska Airlines, Allegiant Air, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, United Airlines, SkyWest Airlines and Southwest Airlines have all agreed to participate in the program, part of CARES Act, according to the Washington Post.

To find out more about the 2020 CARES Act Grants for Airports, click here.

Contribute critical medical supplies

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in dramatic increases in demand for critical medical supplies. Due to this big increase in demand plus supply constraints of producers of those products, hospitals in Virginia are facing the prospect of shortages that could impact healthcare delivery. The state is in urgent need of N95 respirators, surgical masks, disposable medical gowns, nitrile/latex gloves, face shields, goggles, and ventilators. If  your company is able to contribute, please review the below information:
  • Register on the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) Private Sector Portal to be added to the distribution list to receive  correspondence on the Commonwealth’s actions by clicking here.
  • Compete a survey the VDEM issued to gather information from the private sector on issues companies are experiencing and offers of assistance to Virginia (donation, in-kind contribution, discounted). Click here to get to the survey.
For more information, or questions not answered through the portal or survey, contact the VDEM at private.sector@vdem.virginia.gov.
April 16, 2020