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    Our Purpose: The Chamber is organized to advance the general welfare and prosperity of Jackson County, Florida, so that its citizens and its business community shall prosper and enjoy the benefits of livable communities, a healthy economy, and a high quality of living.

    Our Mission: The Chamber shall seek to ensure the thriving economy through a program of relevant member services, active business advocacy, and effective government relations.

  •                 SMALL BUSINESS RESOURCES            

  • Business Damage Assessment Survey
    The Business Damage Assessment Survey is a critical piece of DEO’s efforts to help gather the information needed to evaluate and access tools to help businesses potentially lessen the impacts of COVID-19 and help the economy recover. To submit a survey response, please visit FloridaDisaster.biz.
     
    Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program
    DEO works with the Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network and Florida First Capital Finance Corporation to provide cash flow to businesses economically impacted by COVID-19. The short-term, interest-free loans of up to $50,000 to help bridge the gap between the time the economic impact occurred and when a business secures other financial resources. Currently, $50 million has been allocated for the program. The application period opened March 17, 2020 and runs through May 8, 2020. Visit FloridaDisaster.biz to learn more. 
     
    Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan
    The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue businesses may be experiencing. For more information, visit FloridaDisaster.biz.
     
    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. This program allows Employers to avoid the expense of recruiting, hiring, and training new workers when business conditions improve. While employees are spared the hardships of full unemployment, employers are able to retain employees who can resume high production levels when business conditions improve. More about the Short-time Compensation Program can be found on FloridaJobs.org.
  • Department of Revenue Extends March Sales Tax Due Dates for Adversely Affected Taxpayers

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - On Monday, March 16, 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis directed the Department of Revenue (Department) to provide flexibility on tax due dates, such as sales tax, to assist those adversely affected by COVID-19. Today, Department of Revenue Executive Director Jim Zingale issued an emergency order to extend certain filing deadlines for Florida businesses. This action is taken to provide short-term relief to taxpayers while recognizing the requirement for a balanced state budget. Sales tax, Florida’s largest state tax, produces $26.2 billion annually and funds more than 78% of Florida’s General Revenue programs

    Sales and use tax, as well as other related tax returns and payments, are normally due on the first day of the month and are late after the twentieth day of the month. Order of Emergency Waiver/Deviation #20-52-DOR-002 outlines:

    • Taxpayers who have been adversely affected by COVID-19, have an extended due date to April 30, 2020, for sales and use tax, as well as other related taxes, collected in March.
    • Taxpayers who have not been adversely affected by COVID-19 continue to file and remit taxes no later than the normal due date of April 20.
    • Taxpayers who were unable to meet the March 20 due date will have penalty and interest waived for taxes collected in February if the taxes are reported and remitted by March 31, 2020.

    Adversely affected taxpayer means:

    • The business closed in compliance with a state or local government order and had no taxable sales transactions as a result; or
    • The business experienced sales tax collections in March 2020 that are less than 75% of March 2019 sales tax collections; or
    • The business was established after March 2019; or
    • The business is registered with the Department to file quarterly.

    Taxpayers who fall within the definition of adversely affected but who are able to file and pay on time are encouraged to do so.

    On March 9, 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order Number 20-52, declaring a state of emergency in response to the recent COVID-19 outbreak. The Department has implemented the filing date extensions pursuant to subsection 213.005(2), F.S., which authorizes the Executive Director of the Department of Revenue to carry out certain actions during a declared state of emergency. This order pertains to the February and March collection periods and does not reflect potential actions that may be taken for future filing periods.

    For taxpayers who have additional questions, the Department has established a dedicated team to address tax-related issues pertaining to COVID-19 and created an email address, COVID19TAXHELP@floridarevenue.com. Visit the Department’s webpage for COVID-19 updates. For more information or to sign up for email updates from the Department of Revenue, visit floridarevenue.com.

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  • Gulf Power Company contributes $250,000 to Florida SBDC for small business grant program to provide relief during ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

    Grants will assist for-profit small businesses across Northwest Florida

    The Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the University of West Florida (UWF) today launched the Northwest Florida Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Grant Program to assist businesses across our communities impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The grant program was made possible by an initial contribution of $250,000 from Gulf Power through its economic development fund.

    One important distinction to note is that this is a grant program versus a loan, which means that if approved, a small business will not need to pay back this assistance.

    The grant program will provide up to $5,000 to help offset losses that small businesses may currently be experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Grant applications will be accepted April 8-15, 2020, and are available for download at www.sbdc.uwf.edu. Eligibility requirements include:

    A for-profit, privately held small businesses established on, or before January 1, 2019.
    Must maintain a place of business, including a physical location, within eligible Northwest Florida counties.

    Eligible Northwest Florida counties include: Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Jackson, Washington, Calhoun, and Bay.
    Must have 2 to 10 employees.
    Must have a demonstrated reduction in sales revenues of 25% or more due to the loss of business income related to COVID-19.

    For more information about the program or assistance with completing the grant application, contact the Florida SBDC at UWF at 850-586-7802 or ahaider@uwf.edu.

  • Strategies to Help Your Business in the Wake of Social Distancing

    The country recommended people stay in their homes; airlines are grounding flights, the state has implemented shutdowns on schools and entire industries.  Your customers are being told to only leave for necessities; your employees are working from home, and you’re looking around an expanse of open space in what used to be a bustling business.  What do you do when you can no longer function as the business you’ve always been? Use this time to work on your business, not in it. 

    • Professional Development  – Learn more about your industry, growing a business and how to lead.  You know that feeling you have when you come back from a really good professional training?  Where you are motivated and can’t wait to implement the new things you just learned. You can still get that feeling; there is so much information to glean from books, podcasts or seminars.  
    • Update your skillset – Have you always wanted to learn photography to better market your products?  Or maybe you need help organizing your information. Or you’ve always wanted to perfect your bread making.  Maybe you need a refresher in Quickbooks or to learn how to set up and update your website so you don’t have to hire it out. Heck, maybe you’ve wanted to pick back up the guitar.  You’ve got time on your hands, it’s the perfect excuse to learn a new skill
    • Tackle that project you’ve been avoiding.  We all have projects that we have been procrastinating about that we mean to do.  They may seem to be too much time, energy or they will be too disruptive to business. Well, now that you’re out of excuses, it might be the perfect time to do it.  Think of how good you’ll feel when it’s done. And it could be a nice distraction.
      • Update your website
      • Launch an e-commerce site
      • Reorganize your office or store layout
      • Upgrade computer systems
    • Review resources – Check out what resources may be available to you.  Maybe there are grants or opportunities available to you.  We’ve compiled a list of business resources, grants, articles and information for you.  Look it over and see what might work for you. Update the Chamber with your plans and concerns.  Help us know where you’re struggling and what assistance you need. We can advocate for you and your business and point you to resources or just serve as a sounding board. Attend virtual training and networking events offered.
    • Find a Mentor – It’s nice to get the perspective of someone who’s been there.  And while you’ll probably be bereft of finding someone who’s gone through this exactly; you can certainly find someone who has weathered storms before.  
    • Get a Different Perspective  – Look at your company as if it was someone else’s.  What advice would you give them? How does your customer see your business?  What suggestions might they have for you? If you were to start all over; would you do anything differently?  Are there things that you are doing that don’t provide value? Are their things that could be added that would create value?
    • Speak up  – Keep communications with your customers and supporters and other businesses.  
      • Let your customers know how they can support you during this time.  Continue to post to your social media and send out e-newsletters. They want to hear from you.  
      • Communicate with other businesses. Check-in with your peer group.  See what other people are doing, communicate and collaborate. Network and connect through phone, e-mail or online business groups and virtual meet-ups.  Don’t let the isolation bear down on you. It’s nice to reconnect and realize that other businesses are facing the same challenges you are. Use telecommunication resources like Zoom, Facetime, GoogleHangouts e or even just call them on the phone.  
    • Collaborate and Share Resources – Look for collaborations.  Are there ways you can partner with other businesses and pool resources? Could you barter services during this time?  Maybe you have a knack for accounting or a flair for design that another business may be lacking but they could provide you with marketing or technical support.
    • Get creative – Are there other ways that you can provide value to your customers?  Can you offer services or inventory in a different way? Could you offer online training or sales, virtual updates, delivery options, meetups or classes?   Now is the time to step out and try something different. You’ve got nothing to lose and could potentially have a lot to gain.
    • Support Others  – What will you have wished that you had done with this time looking back?  Are there opportunities that you can support or offer your time to organizing?  Everyone is going to be feeling the effects of this. Reach out to your local nonprofit or check-in with at-risk populations in your community if you have something to offer.  At the very least use your platform to share what others are doing.  
    • Breathe – Things are tough now, but nothing is permanent. Take a step back sometimes.  It can be overwhelming and scary; so much uncertainty. Take some time away from the business.  Connect with family and friends. Reconnect with nature. Meditate. Get some rest. Take care of yourself and your body.  Know that you are doing everything you can and allow that somethings that are outside your control.  

    Most importantly, know that you are not alone; everyone is feeling uncertain.  No one knows what the future holds. Prepare as much as you can so that when it does bounce back; you’ll be ready, stronger than ever.