By Kim Grzywacz,CTIS, CIT Signature Transportation
Our company recently reached out to the Small Business Administration or SBA, as soon as we learned about the money being added to the SBA’s Disaster Loan Assistance program under legislation that passed on March 6, 2020. Here is a step-by-step process of the leg work we had to do:
Once we heard about the SBA loans, or more specifically the Economic Injury Disaster Loans or EIDLs, on the news, through social media channels and industry friends, John contacted our local Chamber of Commerce and spoke with the director and staffer in charge of policy, who referred him to our county’s emergency management office which he called next. We were working it hard and acting fast!
Then we hit our first roadblock. Turns out your state governor must first obtain an Economic Injury Disaster Loan Declaration, which is basically an emergency declaration, to be able to even be considered for an EIDL, and our state had not taken this step. So, because our state is not yet on the list, businesses were not even eligible to apply. We also found out, to qualify for an EIDL, you can’t have “credit available elsewhere;” in other words, to qualify you need to prove that no other banks or lenders will lend you money.
After learning about these restrictions, I reached out to my federal and state legislators through their websites. I asked for them to: 1) Get Iowa declared a state in need; and 2) Remove the disqualifying caveat of having other financial lending resources available.
I also reached out to the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, as we are members. They connected me with liaisons to the Governor and state senators. Through these contacts, I was then connected with the District director at the SBA’s Iowa District Office.
The District Director informed me that they were working on getting the “credit available elsewhere” restriction eliminated from the EIDLs. However, even if they do lift this restriction, our state will still not be ready because it has not declared an emergency to put it on the SBA list.
But, to at least move the process forward and help the state take the necessary action to make SBA’s list, we did fill out an Estimated Disaster Economic Injury Worksheet For Businesses. Although it is not a requirement, this SBA form helps provide the supporting documentation for the state to use when it requests an Economic Injury Disaster Loan Declaration. We sent this to the Iowa Economic Development Association, who is coordinating the effort to support action by the governor.
WHY are we going through these lengths? To maintain our operating authority, we must have insurance. To have insurance, we must pay our bills. Right now, our only glimmer of hope for revenue is the military. We need to be in operational mode when they are called-in for training/mobilization.
Based on several conversations I had, we are also anticipating our current receivables to not be collected.
Like many of you, we were gearing up for our busiest time of the year. We had drivers positioned across this country to comply with legal hours of service requirements, for our chartered trips that will not take place now, although we must still pay these expenses and employees. Further, to make matters worse, we are just coming off the slowest time of the year, with cash reserves low.
But we are all in this together. I am not giving up, despite the roadblocks we keep running into, and neither should you. I urge you to reach out to your state and federal legislators. They need to hear from you, their constituents, on how this pandemic is shutting down our industry, affecting our businesses, our livelihood, the livelihood of their voters. ABA has a template to help you tell your story and make contact with these offices.
Finally, I want to encourage everyone to fill out those surveys are you receive. I keep filling out ANY and ALL surveys I am sent. Our state is gathering the data needed for us to qualify. Our associations are gathering data to take to our elected officials. It would be so easy to delete these surveys, but the data we provide is critical to show the impact COVID-19 has had.
Wishing you all the best health and resilience during this difficult time.
Kim Grzywacz, CTIS, is the director of sales for ABA member CIT Signature Transportation in Ames, Iowa. Kim is active on the ABA Board, Women in Buses Council and as a member of the Marketplace Advisory Committee.