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Your Business Toolkit for facing the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Coronavirus Resources for Employers brought to you by the Columbus Lowndes Chamber of Commerce

Small Business
Local Health
Frequently Asked

Chamber Virtual Networking Luncheons- Mondays in June

Connect again with your business community! Catch up for lost time over quarantine. Hear a brief update from other businesses and share your own business update. Continue networking and sales while also social distancing. If you can't make a week, no worries! Join us next time, the benefit of weekly meetings.

Recap from Monday June 1

Recap Monday June 8

Recap Monday June 15 & 22

Save the Date for all Chamber Networking

Mondays in June:

Monday June 1, 2020

Monday June 8, 2020

Monday June 15, 2020

Monday, June 22, 2020

Monday June 29, 2020

Back to Business Mississippi Grant Program

The Mississippi Back to Business Grant application website went live June 11, at 12 pm. $240 million will be available in the form of grants up to $25,000 to Mississippi businesses who have been impacted by COVID-19. There are several eligibility requirements, including required documents that businesses will have to meet to complete the application. Review the website carefully. We have outlined some of the more pertinent information below.
Who Can Apply? 
The grant program is open to businesses with 50 or fewer employees that experienced an interruption in business from the COVID-19 pandemic. The businesses must be a for-profit corporation, limited liability company, partnership or sole proprietorship. The first 60 days, $40 million will be set aside for minority-owned businesses. For the first 21 days, the program is only open to businesses that did not receive assistance from the Paycheck Protection Program, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance, any other federal program or assistance from business interruption insurance.
What Documents Do I Need? 
It depends on what type of business you have. In general, you can expect to provide documents such as:  articles of incorporation, certificate of formation, partnership agreement, certificate of good standing from the Secretary of State’s Office; any documentation showing the breakdown of ownership to verify the controlling interest of the applicant; homestead filing; voter registration card; utility bills; business licenses; business materials showing the location of the applicant; insurance policy coverage pages; tax records for 2018 and/or 2019; certified payroll for the week of March 1, 2020; documentation of business interruption due to COVID-19.
What If I Do Not Have All The Required Documents?  
You must have your required documents to complete your application. You can save your application and return to it once you have all the necessary documents.
How Do I Apply? 
To verify your eligibility and submit your application, visit
What Expenses/Losses Are Covered? 
Eligible operating expenses under the grant program include mortgage interest, rent, payroll, utilities and other pandemic-related expenses, each for no more than two months. Under the CARES Act, the grant cannot cover lost revenue. No cost will be considered an eligible expense if found to be ineligible under the guidelines, guidance, rules, regulations and/or other criteria, as may be amended from time to time, of the U.S. Department of the Treasury regarding the use of monies from the Coronavirus Relief Fund established by the CARES Act.
Do I Have To Pay Back The Grant Money? 
No. This is a grant Mississippi is offering to businesses that were forced to reduce services or close for a period of time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
What If I Received Other Federal Assistance for COVID-19?   
A business may still apply if it received money from the U.S. Small Business Administration Guaranty Paycheck Protection Program or U.S. Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance; however, the Mississippi Development Authority will not consider these applications for the first 21 days of the program.
What If I Received the $2,000 Grant From The Mississippi Department Of Revenue? 
You may still apply for up to $25,000 from the Back to Business Mississippi Grant Program. The CARES Act allocated $60 million of funding for distribution to Mississippi businesses that were forced to close by the government during the pandemic. These funds were automatically deposited and do not need to be paid back.

Reopening Guide

Columbus is opening back up! Restaurants, Salons, Gyms, etc. have strict guidelines in place and are able to open if they adhere to those guidelines. We all should go back to our normal habits as much as possible to stimulate the economy and increase the sales tax. This includes scheduling salon appointments, exercising at your gym, dining in or carrying out food from restaurants, participating in parks and recreation, etc. Continue your previous shopping and dining habits as much as you feel safe to.  It may look a little different than we were used to, but we can go about our daily lives again. Occupancy has been decreased, while spacing and sanitizing has increased. Please remember patience with business owners as they strive to comply with our government's regulations.

Check out our guide to reopening your business. This guide covers everything from deep cleaning, how long COVID lives on surfaces, keeping the workplace safe, PPE recommendations, and general guidelines for all businesses from exercise and childcare facilities to real estate and retail. It was put together based on resources from other Chambers such as the "Reopen Alabama Responsibly", Tuscaloosa "Work Hard. Work Smart. Work Safe" and the "Springdale is Open for Business Playbook" in Arkansas. 

Guide for Reopening Your Business

Paycheck Protection Program: 

The Paycheck Protection Program 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. Read More Here

Restaurants Open:

Though many restaurants have closed temporarily, some restaurants are still taking food orders. Please click to view the list of participating restaurants, hours of operation and available services. Thank you Visit Columbus for putting this together on your website!

Small Business Resources

SBA Offers Disaster Assistance to Mississippi Small Businesses Economically Impacted by the Coronavirus

Governor Tate Reeves announced disaster assistance for Mississippi small businesses and their employees impacted by the current outbreak of COVID-19.

The U.S. Small Business Administration will offer low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to Mississippi small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), according to SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza. SBA acted under its own authority, as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by the President, to declare a disaster following Governor Reeves’ request on March 18, 2020.

Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications by Clicking Here. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may call (800) 877-8339.

Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

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Click here for business-specific resources: 

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Local Health Updates

The following is from the Mississippi Economic Council, your State Chamber of Commerce: 

Information About Coronavirus (COVID-19)

COVID-19 is a new respiratory virus that causes flu-like illness ranging from mild to severe, with symptoms of fever, coughing, fatigue and difficulty breathing. The CDC and MSDH are working to detect, contain and limit the spread of cases in the U.S. and Mississippi should they occur. MSDH is actively preparing doctors and hospitals on how to respond safely and effectively to COVID-19 in Mississippi.

Like the flu, COVID-19 is thought to be spread person-to-person by close contact (within 6 feet) and by coughing or sneezing. Other possible routes of transmission, such as touching surfaces contaminated by the virus, are also being investigated.

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Prevention and Preparedness For Individuals

Preventive measures against COVID-19 are the same as those for other respiratory viruses like the flu. To help prevent getting and spreading disease:

  • Stay home if you are sick, and avoid close contact with anyone who is ill.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes. When possible, cough, sneeze or blow your nose into a tissue, and throw the tissue away.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, especially after coughing or sneezing, blowing your nose, and using the bathroom. Effective handwashing takes about 20 seconds, and includes cleaning under fingernails, between fingers, and washing the back of hands as well as the front.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are touched often.
  • Stay in good overall health by eating right and staying active. If you are living with diabetes, heart disease or other conditions, keep in touch with your doctor and stay current with your treatment.
  • During or before flu season, get a flu shot. Flu vaccination can prevent the flu or make it less severe, and decrease your chance of hospitalization and death. It also keeps you healthier and better able to fight off infections.
Prevention and Preparedness for Employers

It is important for employers to maintain open lines of communication with their employees. To that end, employers should update contact information for employees if necessary and stay informed of the latest news. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also issued “Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease.” The CDC recommends that employers begin implementing the following steps now:

  • Encourage employees with acute respiratory illnesses to stay home;
  • Separate sick employees;
  • Emphasize cough and sneeze etiquette and hand hygiene;
  • Perform routine environmental cleaning;
  • Advise employees about the risks prior to travel to countries that have had a significant outbreak; and
  • Consider informing employees in the case of possible exposure in the workplace.
Suggested Plans for Employers

The CDC also recommends that employers create response plans now that the outbreak has reached the United States.

  • Employers should create response plans that would:
  • Provide flexibility and input from employees
  • Reduce transmission among staff
  • Protect people at higher risk for adverse health complications
  • Maintain business operations
  • Minimize adverse effects on other entities in their supply chains
  • Share best practices
  • Can your business allow short-term telecommuting? Flexible hours? The cancellation of some or all business travel? Fewer in-person meetings? There is no single answer to these questions for every business.

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