COVID-19: #DTJax Resources for Small Business

As Downtown Vision monitors the rapidly evolving situation with COVID-19, we want to ensure our Downtown Jacksonville Stakeholders are informed about the resources available to them. We have compiled these resources for small businesses and will continue to add to this list as we receive more information.

Check back here regularly for more information and updates. We appreciate your continued support. Stay safe!

Emergency Access to Capital for Small Business From State & City
VyStar and City of Jacksonville Relief Package Partnership
Federal Support for Small Business — CARES Act
Other Local Small Business Resources
Marketing Resources
Other Important News

Ordinance 2020-254: City Council Approves Parking Lot Use for Dining and Shopping in Jacksonville

Follow Covid-19 Updates

City of Jacksonville:


Please take our Impact Survey for Downtown Businesses 

Emergency Access to Capital for Small Business From State & City

Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan
Governor DeSantis has activated this loan program to support small businesses impacted by COVID-19. The bridge loan program offers 0% interest, short-term (up to one year) loans of up to $50,000 to help bridge the gap to additional resources such as insurance payouts, receipt of payments, operational profits, or federal disaster assistance. The application period runs March 17, 2020 and runs through May 8, 2020. 

Apply online and upload required supporting documentation.

VyStar and City of Jacksonville Relief Package Partnership

City Partnering with Vystar Credit Union on Multimillion-dollar Relief Package for Small Businesses

The City of Jacksonville has created its own loan program to assist local small businesses affected by the COVID-19 response. Proposed by Mayor Curry and approved by City Council, the program will deploy up to $28 million for interest payments, application fees, and grants tied to employee retention. The program will be delivered by VyStar Credit Union, based in DTJax.

Briefly, it’s a great opportunity for up to $100,000 loan quickly-processed locally, with no application fee and 0% interest for up to 5 years, if the business retains all the employees it had, pre-crisis. $1,000 will be a grant, and 10% of the loan is forgiven (becomes a grant) each year.

Interested businesses should visit for more info and a link to the application. 

  • Loans from $5,000 up to $100,000 are available.
  • VyStar expects to approve loans in 3 to 5 days.
  • Any business based in Duval County is eligible that has between two and 100 employees, and has been open at least a year.
  • Businesses must be able to demonstrate negative economic impacts from the virus pandemic.
  • The first 3,000 loan recipients will receive a $1,000 city-funded grant.
  • For each approved loan, COJ will pay the $250 servicing fee.
  • The city will also pay interest payments for the first year for all loans. After that, the loans will convert to a five-year payback schedule, with 0% interest if business retains all employees it had, pre crisis (2/29/20).
  • Business owners will have to personally guarantee the loan, although VyStar has waived the 720-minimum credit score to qualify.
  • If the business continues to retain at least half of the number of employees that it had on Feb. 29, COJ will cover the interest payments on the loan for the five-year period in which it is to be paid back, with the interest rate set at 5.99 percent. Businesses that retain all of their pre-pandemic employees would also be eligible for a grant that covered 10 percent of the loan amount during each of those years


Federal Support for Small Business — CARES Act

Friday 3/27, the U.S. Congress passed the CARES Act – Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act – a $2 trillion package to provide emergency relief for American workers and businesses.

Recommendations: Downtown Vision makes these brief recommendations to small business and nonprofits interested in accessing SBA support allocated by the CARES Act:

1. Contact a lender with whom you are already doing business to verify they are an approved SBA lender and do it quickly. $349 billion does not go far across the country and lenders are being inundated. SBA lenders are scrambling to be in a position to implement.  One long time SBA lender told us yesterday they would only work with existing clients. This process is equivalent to a gold rush, and those who are first in line will benefit, while others may not get funds.

2. Decide whether you are choosing the PPP program or EIDL program:

  • PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) — Likely all small biz in #DTJax affected should apply for PPP. Loan is 1% or less, no payments for 6 mos, interest deferred for 2 yrs. If you use the funds for purposes intended, the loan goes away (it becomes a grant to your business). Call your banker or another approved SBA lender like VyStar Credit Union or Truist (merger of BB&T and SunTrust)
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL): First, for EIDL, you do NOT call your bank, you must apply directly to the SBA! Visit SBA’s website here. EIDL is an existing program to help biz affected in a disaster that CARES Act modified to be “on steroids”. Unlike PPP which is about paying employees via payroll, EIDL is more flexible. For example commercial property owners losing rental payments have been affected drastically but not related to payroll issues. So EIDL is available via SBA. A huge benefit of EIDL is a $10,000 forgivable grant advance on the loan immediately. Again, you do NOT have to pay this $10,000 back, so apply today.
  • Per the SBA, the federal government does not allow individuals to have both PPP and EIDL loans simultaneously. You can apply to both, but you can’t have both loans open at the same time. If a business owner gets the EIDL then applies for the PPP and is approved, he/she will look at the two-month average payroll costs from last year, multiply by 2.5, subtract the balance owed on the EIDL, less the $10,000 advance (it was a grant), and close to EIDL loan.

3. Organize necessary documentation, principally Payroll receipts & Proof of COVID-19 hardship to your business.
(Note: the process is not complicated like the traditional SBA loan process. No credit analysis. No credit checks. No security.)

4. Keep in mind that the Employee Retention Tax Credit is available as a primary relief or back up relief if you can’t get an SBA loan for whatever reason.  Again, you cannot double dip on same expenses.  To me, the “partial disruption” standard seems much easier to meet in many instances.”

The economic relief legislation, from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, includes:

  • Small Business “Paycheck Protection Program.”
  • Additional Small Business Provisions: $17 billion for Small Business Administration (SBA) to cover six months of payments for businesses with current SBA loans.
  • Changes to SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs): Loans can be made based solely on credit scores. Loans available to all non-profits, including 501(c)(6)s. Loans below $200,000 can be approved without a personal guarantee.
  • Loan Programs and Credit Facilities: $500 billion for loans and loan subsidies and support for Federal Reserve credit facilities
  • Business Tax Provisions: Employee retention credit for employers subject to closure due to COVID-19 (permits fully refundable 50% tax credit applicable to the employer’s share of payroll 5 taxes on wages up to $10,000 per employee; widely available with special rules for small employers).
  • Pension and Employee Benefit Requirements: Allow the Department of Labor to delay employee benefit related deadlines because of a public health emergency the same as declared national disasters or terroristic military actions.
  • Banking Relief, Mortgage Forbearance, and Credit Reporting: Regulatory relief from accounting standards for loan modifications related to COVID19 made by banks. Temporary relief from CECL standards. During the covered period, a borrower with a Federally backed mortgage loan experiencing a financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to the COVID–19 emergency may request forbearance on the Federally backed mortgage loan, regardless of delinquency status.
  • Payments & Relief for Individuals: Direct payments to taxpayers equal to $1,200 per individual ($2,400 joint return) plus $500 per child. Phased out for incomes above $75,000 ($150,000 joint). Penalty-free COVID-19-related distributions up to $100,000 and loan amount increases and modifications to individuals from tax-favored retirement plans. Waiver of required minimum distributions from retirement plans and IRAs for 2020. Tax exclusion for people who are receiving student loan repayment from their employer.
  • Unemployment Programs: Extend unemployment insurance by 13 weeks and include a four-month enhancement of benefits. Unemployment compensation is available for those not eligible for regular UI, including those who may have exhausted benefits.
  • Work Sharing Programs: States that have an existing short-term compensation program can get 100% federal reimbursement for their costs related to that program. States that enact a short-term compensation program after enactment will also be eligible for reimbursement. States without a law can enter into an agreement with the Department of Labor to begin providing short-term compensation payments.
  • Paid Leave Changes: Changes to the “Phase 2” Bill that was just enacted — Paid FMLA leave under FFCRA is capped at $200 per day and $10k in aggregate. Paid sick leave under the FFCRA is capped at $511 per day and $5,110 in aggregate; this amount drops to $200 per day and $2000 in aggregate for sick leave taken to care for a family member or because of a school closure. Workers who are laid off after March 1 but then rehired are eligible for paid FMLA leave.
  • State and Local Aid: Provides $150 billion to states and local government based on each state’s population for the purpose of funding unforeseen expenses related to COVID-19.

Other Local Small Business Resources

COVID-19 Vaccination Appointments

The Duval County Health Department announced that they will add new appointments online for the COVID-19 vaccine every Thursday at 5pm. The link will change each week and will be posted on the alerts page on the Duval County Health Department website:

Residential Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Program & Commercial Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Program

The City of Jacksonville in conjunction with the Jacksonville Bar Association is releasing a program for those who may be in financial distress and at risk of eviction or foreclosure as a result of COVID.

Helping Florida businesses prepare, recover and respond to disasters.

AMEX Open for Business Free Kit Covid-19 Financial Guide

Reopen Main Street
Reopen Main Street is taking a look ahead at “new reality” possibilities and working to compile potential reopening strategies, ideas, hints and tips for businesses, business districts and organizations as we enter the COVID-19 recovery phase.

United Way Florida First Coast Relief Fund
Grant program available to provide assistance to nonprofit organizations providing support to individuals and families during a community crisis. 

Florida Reemployment Assistance
Temporary financial support for qualified workers through a transition period to a new job. 

Resources for the Arts & Culture Community
Are you part of the arts and culture industry? Have you lost revenue due to the Covid-19 virus crisis?
There’s are many helpful websites, but it can be difficult to navigate through all the information. In an effort to assist the community, the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville has created a page on their website with up-to-date information on available resources.

Bartender Emergency Assistance Program
Charitable grant program available to provide assistance to qualified bartenders, barbacks, and bar servers who have suffered financial hardship as a result of a catastrophic event. 

National Restaurant Associations’ Restaurant Employee Relief Fund
Created to help restaurant industry employees experiencing extraordinary hardship in the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. Through this Fund, grants will be made to restaurant industry employees who have been impacted by COVID-19, including a decrease in wages or loss of employment.

Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation
Resources for Restaurants and Workers Coping with the COVID-19 Emergency.

Children of Restaurant Employees Grants
Charitable grant program available to support children of food and beverage service employees navigating life altering circumstances. 

Florida Business Damage Assessment Survey
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) is surveying businesses and nonprofits who have been impacted by COVID-19. Response to the Business Damage Assessment survey is not an application for assistance.

Temporary Layoff Program
A Temporary Layoff occurs when the employee is separated from their job due to lack of work, and the employee has a return-to-work date within eight weeks of the separation. An employee that is temporarily laid off from work may be eligible for RA benefits. 

Short-Time Compensation Program
The Short-Time Compensation Program is designed to provide prorated Reemployment Assistance benefits to employees that have had work hours and earnings reduced as part of a Short-Time Compensation plan to avoid a total layoff of some employees. 

LISC and Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund
LISC and Verizon have teamed up to offer grants to help small businesses fill urgent financial gaps until they can resume normal operations or until other more permanent financing becomes available. Sign Up to receive updates and the application.

Guide to COVID-19 Small Business Support from Best Accounting Software

More resources can be found on the City of Jacksonville’s Website

Marketing Resources

Downtown Vision has created a set of posters and social media graphics for Downtown businesses to display in person and online to let customers know they are open, and what services they are offering.

Download: Poster | Instagram/Facebook Post | Facebook Banner 

Marketing Support

Jacksonville-based Multiverse Media Group will build and host a free webpage for companies without a current way to take online orders for curbside or pickup sales.

Other Important News

JEA will suspend service disconnections – water and electric – for customers who are unable to pay their bill on time. If you need more time to pay we also offer payment extensions and arrangements.

Tax Deadline Extension: Americans who owe $1 million or less now in taxes now have until mid-July to file, according to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin. The same delay is also being offered to corporations that owe the federal government $10 million or less.


Ordinance 2020-254:

On May 11, City Council passed an ordinance that permits the use of parking lot and outdoor space for doing business in a safe and socially distant way. The ordinance provides ongoing relief for retail and restaurant operators for the duration of the local or state emergency, whichever is longer.

Outside retail display, sale of retail merchandise or sale of food by licensed restaurants:

    • the outside area shall be contiguous to the retail location/restaurant
    • the outside area shall not adversely impact the use of a sidewalk or right of way
    • amplified music or other sound is prohibited

Outside sale and service of alcohol including beer, wine and liquor provided

    • the outside area shall be contiguous to the retail location
    • the outside area shall not adversely impact the use of a sidewalk or right of way
    • the outside area shall be no greater than the inside area licensed for the sale and service of alcohol
    • the outside area shall be surrounded by a temporary barrier at least 3.5 feet high, with up to two entranceways of no more than 4 feet in width
    • amplified music or other sound is prohibited

Sale of all alcohol by a licensed facility or establishment for off premises consumption (a/k/a package sales)

    • Outdoor seating is only permitted in the areas you control.  This means you cannot block sidewalks, the right of way between sidewalks and the road, or on-street parking spaces.
    • You can use some of your own on-site parking area, but must balance the demand for parking with outdoor seating areas.
    • With regard to off-street parking, be mindful of shared parking areas.  Spaces that are dedicated for your use are fair game.  That said, if you do not have exclusive use of the spaces, other businesses that share the parking area will have the right to complain to the City.
    • Any restaurant serving alcohol must set up a perimeter barrier.  The barrier does not have to be substantial, but must clearly define the service area.  Orange construction fences, ropes, and the like should be sufficient. 

Additional information on the impacts of COVID-19 on DTJax can be found here:

COVID-19: #DTJax Business Updates
COVID-19: #DTJax Virtual Experiences

We will update as we get new info.

Please contact us if you are open or would like to share any information with our audience.