Gov. John Carney on Wednesday, March 18, announced the Hospitality Emergency Loan Program (HELP) (http://www.delbiz.com/) to provide financial relief for restaurants, bars and other hospitality industry businesses that employ thousands of Delawareans.

“Restaurants, bars, hotels and other hospitality-related businesses, and their workers, are among those most seriously impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Delaware,” said Carney. “We’ve limited restaurants to takeout and delivery services, and asked all Delawareans to avoid being out in public unnecessarily. Many people from other states have postponed non-essential travel, meaning they are not coming to Delaware for vacations or business. We feel it is crucial that the state step in to assist these businesses and their employees.”

The no-interest loans are capped at $10,000 per business per month. The money can cover rent, utilities and other unavoidable bills but cannot be used for personnel costs. The loans have a 10-year term, with payments deferred for nine months.

The Division of Small Business will administer the program using existing state funds and is aiming to have an application available later this week. Eligible businesses must have been in operation for at least a year, have annual revenue below $1.5 million and be in certain hospitality-connected industries. Email business@delaware.gov to learn if you qualify or call (302) 739-4271 with additional questions.

Assistance is also available for Delaware workers impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. Carney approved the following changes to Delaware’s unemployment benefits program for the hospitality industry:

• The Department of Labor (DOL) will begin processing unemployment claims as they are received with the goal of benefits becoming available within a week.

• DOL will allow part-time income while collecting benefits as long as employees can demonstrate their decreased hours and earnings.

• DOL will not classify tipped employees as minimum-wage earners as long as their tips are reported as wages.

Businesses applying for assistance through Delaware’s HELP program will need to prove they meet the eligibility standards. This includes providing documentation to show the business has been current for at least 80 percent of payments over the past 12 months, and not past due on its most recent payment on any bill for which it is applying for relief. This can be done through proof of payments or a letter from the entity to which the money was due.

The program announcement comes as the State also awaits official confirmation from the U.S. Small Business Administration that it has received the Economic Injury Declaration that Carney formally requested on Monday.

More information will be available later in the week on sending in application information for HELP. In the meantime, businesses can reach out to the Division of Small Business with questions by emailing business@delaware.gov or visiting www.delbiz.com.

Carney requests federal assistance for small businesses 

Gov. John Carney on Monday, March 16, submitted an application formally requesting the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provide Delaware an Economy Injury Declaration, which makes loans available to small businesses and nonprofit organizations in New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties.

In his letter to the SBA, Carney said the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on small businesses would likely be significant.

“We know that the public health restrictions we put in place to reduce the spread of coronavirus will hit Delaware’s small business community especially hard,” said Carney. “We will continue to work with the Small Business Administration, and with our congressional delegation and state agencies, to provide relief to those small businesses impacted during this time.”

Carney has directed the Delaware Division of Small Business and Delaware Department of State to look for additional opportunities to support the state’s 25,000 small businesses.

Once the state’s application to the SBA is approved, the low-interest loans of up to $2 million per business will be available for many small businesses and nonprofits that have suffered substantial economic injury as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

They are designed to help with the temporary loss of revenue these businesses and nonprofits are experiencing. The loans may be used for working capital expenses, such as payroll, fixed debts and accounts payable, as well as other bills the business or nonprofit is currently unable to pay because of the impact of COVID-19.