We are one month into this disaster called COVID-19, and while we give our primary concern to the health and well-being of everyone in the community, region, state and country, we have a mission to care for our economy, businesses and workforce. It is anything but business as usual, and there are some things every Johnston business and resident should know.

First, we have encouraged businesses and people to apply for the various programs that have been advanced by the state and federal government. After examining the benefits and the requirements, if it makes sense, businesses have been encouraged to apply. Here are a few programs or solutions currently available to businesses. Note: some programs such as the State of Iowa Small Business Relief Fund are no longer accepting applications.

  • Individuals affected by required business closures have been able to apply for expanded unemployment benefits.
  • Businesses not affected by the required business closures have been encouraged to maintain employment by participating in the SBA Paycheck Protection Program (this is a significant and unprecedented source of financial relief that is intended to help businesses maintain their workforce and capacity to restart when the crisis declines).
  • Businesses have been able to apply for other loans through the SBA and grants through the Iowa Economic Development Authority.
  • Government at all levels has implemented tax deferral policies.
  • Many, many companies are supporting their employees by enabling them to continue to work remotely.
  • Businesses that provide services to individuals and other businesses are taking steps to help customers through payment deferrals, waiver of late payment penalties, and, in some cases, payment waivers for two or more months. Check with your suppliers and other business partners to learn what they may be doing to help.

“We’re all in this together” is not just a catch phrase. Everyone is living it, every day.

Second, disaster mitigation and recovery efforts are underway. Johnston Economic Development, our business members and your public officials at the city, county, and state level are working together to identify additional needs and gaps in assistance. JEDCO members, Mayor Dierenfeld, council members and city staff, Polk County Supervisor Bob Brownell, Representative Karin Derry and Senator Brad Zaun, and others have been participating in regular web conference calls, or Connect or Zoom meetings, to compare notes and get the latest “on-the-ground” updates from lenders, developers and businesses about the status of things.

It is likely everyone can agree that not every state or federal program is operating at a peak performance level right now, primarily because the scale of activity is truly unprecedented. The best we can do is show patience and to make the things over which we have control as helpful as possible.

Small businesses should be aware that there is an active discussion about a new public/private partnership to provide financial assistance to companies in Polk County that may not have qualified for any of the federal or state program in operation thus far. Watch for more information about this initiative very soon.

At this writing it appears that our current circumstances will continue … let’s just say for a while longer. In addition to our Coronavirus Response page, we’ve assembled a supplementary document with additional links to some of the most useful information about the collective efforts to prevent the spread of this disease and to find information and assistance for your particular situation. Review these resources to get the answers you need. If you can’t find the answer here, or if you need any type of specific assistance, contact one of your elected officials or send us an email at thrive@growwjohnston.com.

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