COVID-19 Updates and Resources for the Near Southside
CLICK TO VIEW COVID-19 RESOURCE DOCUMENT
updated April 7, 2020
Y'ALL STAY HOME
Updated on March 24, 2020 City of Fort Worth Emergency Declaration with "Stay at Home" order specifics
Simplified version of the March 24 "Stay at Home" Emergency Declaration
We know the recent days have been a whirl of information, hard decisions, closures, cancellations and postponements as we all work to protect each other from the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the nation. We also know that many of you are concerned about the effects that social distancing will have on your business, your staff and the future of our city. No one was fully prepared for this moment and we are all doing our best to navigate tough territory.
Our Near Southside, Inc. team has been working to gather a list of COVID-19 resources for your use. Please know the list is in constant flux, and we will do our best to update it as frequently as possible. As you are seeing in the media and via your email, updates are fluid and advice is changing on practically a minute-by-minute basis.
If you know of resources that are not offered here, but would be helpful to others, please share them with firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
City of Fort Worth Resources
City COVID-19 Website for the most up to date information
Fort Worth Event
Cancellations, Updates, Postponements
Business COVID-19 Resources
City of Fort Worth's Covid-19 Business page
Additionally, information is available at:
City of Fort Worth Economic Development http://fortworthtexas.gov/ecodev/
City of Fort Worth Small Business http://fortworthtexas.gov/smallbusiness/
City of Fort Worth Economic Devopment Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/FortWorthEconomicDevelopment/
The City of Fort Worth is continuing to monitor and assess the impact to the business community from the Covid-19 pandemic. It is critical that Fort Worth's business community take all necessary steps to help the city reduce the spread of COVID-19.
In addition, there are a number of resources being pulled together at the local, state and federal levels to assist business owners during these challenging times. Along with a variety of resources offered by the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA), the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce has partnered with Fort Worth HR to provide tools and resources to local employers and Human Resource professionals as it pertains to their employees and COVID-19.
Common issues that small businesses may encounter
Capital access. Incidents can strain a small business's financial capacity to make payroll, maintain inventory and respond to market fluctuations (both sudden drops and surges in demand). Businesses should prepare by exploring and testing their capital access options so they have what they need when they need it. View the SBA's capital access resourcesat https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans
Workforce capacity. Incidents have just as much impact on your workers as they do your clientele. It's critical to ensure that your workers have the ability to fulfill their duties while protected.
Inventory and supply chain shortfalls. While the possibility could be remote, it's a good preparedness measure to ensure you have either adequate supplies of inventory for a sustained period and/or diversify your distributor sources in the event that one supplier cannot meet an order request.
Facility remediation/clean-up costs. Depending on the incident, there may be a need to improve the protection of customers and staff by increasing the frequency and intensity that your business cleans surfaces that are frequently touched by occupants and visitors. Check your maintenance contracts and supplies of cleaning materials to ensure they can meet increases in demand.
Insurance coverage issues. Many businesses have business interruption insurance. Now is the time to contact your insurance agent to review your policy to understand precisely what you are and are not covered for in the event of an extended incident.
Changing market demand. Depending on the incident, there may be access controls or movement restrictions established which can impede your customers from reaching your business. Additionally, there may be concerns about public exposure to an incident, and customers may decide not to go to your business out of concern of exposing themselves to greater risk. SBA's resources partners and district offices have trained experts who can help craft a plan specific to your situation to help navigate any rapid changes in demand.
Marketing. It's critical to communicate openly with your customers about the status of your operations, what protective measures you've implemented, and how customers will be protected when they visit your business. Promotions may also help incentivize customers who may be reluctant to patronize your business.
Plan. As a business, bring your staff together and prepare a plan for what you will do if the incident worsens or improves. More information on how to create a business continuity plan is located further down this page. It's also helpful to conduct a tabletop exercise to simulate potential scenarios and how your business management and staff might respond to the hypothetical scenario in the exercise. For examples of tabletop exercises, visit FEMA's website. https://www.fema.gov/emergency-planning-exercises
SBA Products and assistance
The U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) can assist small businesses with accessing federal resources and navigating their own preparedness plans as described by the CDC's Guidance for Businesses and Employers.
SBA works with a number of local partners to counsel, mentor and train small businesses. The SBA has 68 District Offices, as well as support provided by its Resource Partners, such as SCORE offices, Women's Business Centers, Small Business Development Centers and Veterans Business Outreach Centers. Resource partners such as SCORE and the Tarrant Small Business Development Center can be reached at the Fort Worth Business Assistance Center, located at 1150 S. Freeway, Fort Worth, TX 76104. http://fortworthtexas.gov/bac/
Access to capital
SBA provides a number of loan resources for small businesses to utilize when operating their business. More information on loans or how to connect with a lender is available on the SBA website. https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans
Access to lending partners
SBA has developed Lender Match, a free online referral tool that connects small businesses with participating SBA-approved lenders within 48 hours. Many of these programs can also be accessed at the Fort Worth Business Assistance Center. http://fortworthtexas.gov/bac/
7(a) program offers loan amounts up to $5,000,000 and is an all-inclusive loan program deployed by lending partners for eligible small businesses within the U.S. States and its territories. The uses of proceeds include: working capital; expansion/renovation; new construction; purchase of land or buildings; purchase of equipment, fixtures; lease-hold improvements; refinancing debt for compelling reasons; seasonal line of credit; inventory; or starting a business.
Express loan program provides loans up to $350,000 for no more than 7 years with an option to revolve. There is a turnaround time of 36 hours for approval or denial of a completed application. The uses of proceeds are the same as the standard 7(a) loan.
Community Advantage loan pilot program allows mission-based lenders to assist small businesses in underserved markets with a maximum loan size of $250,000. The uses of proceeds are the same as the standard 7(a) loan.
504 loan program is designed to foster economic development and job creation and/or retention. The eligible use of proceeds is limited to the acquisition or eligible refinance of fixed assets.
Microloan program involves making loans through nonprofit lending organizations to underserved markets. Authorized use of loan proceeds includes working capital, supplies, machinery & equipment, and fixtures (does not include real estate). The maximum loan amount is $50,000 with the average loan size of $14,000.
SBA Disaster Assistance Loans
The SBA is also providing targeted, low-interest disaster recovery loans to small businesses that are severely impacted by the situation surrounding COVID-19. These Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance, and can provide economic support to small businesses to help them overcome the temporary loss of revenue they might be experiencing.
Visit the SBA website to learn more about accessing COVID-19 Disaster Relief Lending.
Business continuity plans
Every business should have an emergency plan to ensure that its resources aren't overwhelmed in times of need, and that their customers will continue to receive products or services on time. Additionally, costs can add up if the business is forced to close for an undetermined amount of time. Businesses who are prepared with a plan can resume service faster, and might be able to assist with community recovery.
Elements of a business continuity plan
Determine and document which staff, materials, procedures, and equipment are absolutely necessary to keep your business operating.
Identify and document your suppliers, shippers, and other important resources.
Define and document crisis management procedures and individual responsibilities in advance.
Plan for your building or brick-and-mortar location to be inaccessible.
Plan for payroll continuity.
Include employees from all levels in your planning, to ensure that it makes sense from all perspectives, from front-line to management.
Keep both digital and physical copies of important records – lease agreements, insurance policies, employee contract and identification information, bank account records, etc. – in multiple secure locations.
If your business is a multi-tenant building or complex, consider working with neighboring businesses to share resources and create a continuity plan that covers all of your needs.
Learn more about creating a continuity plan by viewing FEMA's Business Continuity Guide.
Near Southside Resources
While social distancing is inevitable, we know that Near Southside small business owners, service industry employees, entertainers and arts professionals rely heavily on daily sales to provide for their/your incomes. We have heard from you that community members are especially financially vulnerable during health emergencies that radically change public spending practices. While we don't have all the answers, here are a few ways we are trying to support your small businesses today:
We know that community is a key ingredient of the Near Southside. During this time when so many of you are facing big decisions, we want to make sure that you still feel a sense of community despite the need to socially distance. We have created a “Near Southside Small Businesses COVID-19” community forum where you can all talk amongst yourselves to share information, ask questions, update each other on how you are, etc. This forum also works by TEXT MESSAGE or also via a free downloadable PHONE APP so that you don’t have to establish a new tool to monitor the conversation, but can use the most common tool we all have - our phones. Please be sensitive to using this group for important conversation only. To be clear, this is NOT a public forum, but instead it is a PRIVATE Near Southside small business owners and managers to that you have a safe place to talk and share. When you join you will be asked to state which business you own or operate inside the district. If you fail to answer or do not qualify you will be removed from the forum.
Near Southside Small Business COVID-19 Forum
We recommend retail-facing small businesses consider these types of service modifications:
Curbside Service The opportunity for a customer to place an order by phone with the ability to pick up their order “curbside”. Many customers are now uncomfortable walking in to make a purchase, but your team can help assist them with purchasing via a new “low interaction” process. Make sure to coordinate a way for the customer to also provide a tip for businesses where staff rely on tips.
Promote purchasing gift cards. While they might not redeem your services today, restaurants, stylists, retailers and various other small business owners can “pre-sell” services. For businesses where staff rely on tips, offer a way for the customer to add a tip to their gift card purchase. I am sure many would be happy to tip.
I know that some of you have established “GoFundMe” emergency funds for your employees, performing artists and even for your business. If you have established one of these funds and would like to share the link to it, you are welcomed to do so. If you have not done that, we have seen that others are doing so and people are giving generously, especially to funds that are designed to help distribute emergency cash to retail-based employees such as waitstaff, kitchen staff, musicians, artists and hourly-staff. Consider calling it a “GoFundMe Emergency Tip Jar”
Here is an example of a “general emergency fund” that musician Rachel Gollay has established for musicians and service workers. https://www.gofundme.com/f/fort-worth-relief-fund?fbclid=IwAR1ge2YK6H_oTYiOGBTNG81tNsJp0QaoQrUV0dmT1wwTbBud6NcHRDmbr7Y
For those of you who offer products that can serve as a “boredom break” consider “pick up packages” or deliveries of records, books, home essentials, craft items, yarn with how-to-knit instructions or YouTube video links. Customers can keep themselves and their family entertained during the social distancing phase. If you cannot manage delivery, you take can still take order over the phone and run the items out to the customers car.
We've seen that grocery stores are filled with long lines and empty shelves. Many restaurants, bakeries and local retailers have freshly prepared food readily available. You can use the guide to promote your own delivery services or you can promote apps like Uber Eats, Favor, Entrees on Trays, and other meal delivery services where customers can have your food delivered to their home or office so that they can avoid crowded grocery stores.
We know these types of promotions do not work for every business, so you may need to create a promotion that suits your business model, but these are suggestions to help you think through some ideas.
We can help share your needs via social media.
The health department’s request for social distancing means we will be heavily focused on sharing only those promotions that are safe ways people can support you while socially distancing themselves. To request social media support, please send the exact language and graphics you want to share to email@example.com for Facebook support and firstname.lastname@example.org for Instagram support.
We are monitoring our phones and emails to help.
Our team is happy to answer your questions, talk things through with you, and help you however we can. If we can help you in any way, we are absolutely happy to do so. You can reach our Near Southside, Inc. staff at the following cell phone numbers:
NSI President Mike Brennan can be reached at 817-681-8213
NSI Director of Events and Communications, Megan Henderson at 817-966-1880
NSI Director of Urban Design and Placemaking, Allison Docker at 713-819-1655
NSI Events & Projects Manager, Natalie Chapa at 940-368-1695
NSI Office Manager, Becky Bethel at 817-690-9066
Keeping in touch with public health officials
On your behalf, we are staying in close contact with top public health officials at the City of Fort Worth and Tarrant County so that we can share information as it becomes available. If you have specific questions about COVID-19 best practices as it relates to your business, or you would like to talk to public health leadership yourself, we recommend reaching out to City of Fort Worth Code Compliance Director Brandon Bennett who serves as the city’s top public health official. All of his information is available here: http://fortworthtexas.gov/codecompliance/
Near Southside Community Event Cancellations
We have cancelled our 2020 Friday on the Green kick-off event scheduled for Friday, April 10 and our May Friday on the Green event.
However, we are hopeful that the June, September and October Friday on the Green events remain viable pending further updates from public health officials as we near the events.
Our 2020 Open Streets event on Sunday, May 17 from 12-4pm has paused our event planning due to the COVID-19 public health crisis. We will provide you with updates regarding that event as more information becomes available. Naturally, Open Streets will only move forward if public health officials deem large scale public gatherings safe when the pandemic has subsided. At this time, we are not certain when that would be.
These aren't the only ways we can help, but it is a short list to get us started. If you have other ideas about how we can support your businesses, artists, entrepreneurs and service organizations, please let us know. We are open to suggestions. Fort Worth is a resilient community and we are certain that your tenacity, creativity and investment in our district will be an essential ingredient to the rebound that will be required when the panic subsidies.
Until that time, please stay safe and healthy.