The Blount Partnership is committed to leading the Blount County business community through this crisis. Be sure to check out our continually updating Managing Your Business during COVID-19 webpage.

In today's email there is information about:
  • Gov. Lee's Thursday's briefing
  • Families First Coronavirus Response Act
  • TSBDC to assist with SBA disaster loan assistance
  • Check out our growing list of member to member resources
  • Online meeting platform recommendations
  • Updated food services, job opportunities and employer information
Governor Lee issued Executive Order 15 . The Order lays out a number of waivers for the business community including:
  • Waiving one-week waiting periods to receive unemployment benefits following loss of employment. (Work search requirements required to receive unemployment benefits are federally mandated and the administration is communicating with the federal government about assisting with this waiver.)
  • Including individuals who leave work as a result of a doctor's order to qualify for unemployment benefits.
  • Providing DHS full discretion to waive child care licensure requirements.
  • Temporarily removing childcare restrictions including provisions about capacity, grouping, and certain licensure regulations.
TANF Funds for Emergency Cash Assistance
The Tennessee Department of Human Services has issued a new policy offering emergency cash assistance for those impacted at this time by utilizing Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds. These funds will be up to $1,000 for a family of 5+ who qualifies and has had a loss of a job as a result of COVID-19. These efforts will be up and working within one week, and we encourage Tennesseans in need to apply online when the application becomes available  here .
President Trump signed the bill shortly after it cleared Congress this week. Now that the legislation has been signed into law, its provisions become effective within 15 days. Here are the key provisions of the legislation that are likely to impact employers: CLICK HERE FOR SUMMARY
The Tennessee Small Business Development Center continues to provide services to clients virtually, by phone, and by email.

For small business inquiries regarding SBA COVID–19 Disaster Relief loans and other related concerns, businesses may visit our website at , select the red “Request Free Advising” tab and follow the instructions from there.

The loans can be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable or other bills that can’t be paid due to the disaster’s impact. Interest rates for the loans are 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for nonprofit organizations.
The SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.

Applying online is the best, most efficient method to get your loan in-process.

Things to know about SBA Disaster Loans:

  • This is for working capital it is not designed for expansion or debt consolidation.
  • This loan process will be done by the Small Business Administration. It is not process through your bank or credit union.
  • Here is what is meant by ECONOMIC INJURY for purposes of any SBA loan to be provided:
  • "Businesses can only seek assistance for economic injury (not physical damage) as a result of the incident [COVID 19].
  • Substantial economic injury occurs when a business concern is unable to meet its obligations as they mature or to pay its ordinary and necessary operating expenses. 
  • Establishing economic injury is a comparison between the financial information from the period in the prior year to the injury period of the current year - this period must be associated to the [IMPACT OF COVID 19] and cannot be attributed to a downturn in local economy or other unrelated issues. 
  • Any additional questions go to the SBA customer service line at 1-800-659-2955
We continue to add to the number of available jobs, so please share and post to this public Facebook group. This page was established to assist those looking to hire with an additional outlet.

If your company expects or is experiencing layoffs or work furloughs, or needs employees to fill open positions, please email Jessica Belitz at or call 865.273.1214.

Please do the following:
(1) JOIN as your business page AND as an individual.
(2) SHARE with other businesses and individuals so they can join (membership is NOT required to join or post for this group!)
(3) POST your hiring positions with descriptions and links to applications.
Help us help and support our community when they need us most!
In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 cornavirus outbreak, the Blount Partnership has compiled a list of resources for businesses to plan for and respond to the virus. This includes SBA assistance information, CDC printable materials, information about handling layoffs, grants and avoiding scams. LEARN MORE .

The Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TNDOLWD) released a website with guidance for business's operations that are affected due to COVID-19. The department has provided resources for mass layoff and unemployment claim information.

These PDFs below provide step-by-step instructions for employers and employees regarding layoffs and unemployment benefits to expedite payment to employees.

If you are approved for unemployment, the maximum weekly benefit in Tennessee is $275 before federal taxes are deducted. The state determines your weekly benefit based on your earnings over the past 18 months.
As CDC recommendations change on a seemingly daily basis, the Blount Partnership has developed a takeout restaurant listing featuring our Blount Chamber dining establishments.

We've also created a public Facebook group page . The goal is to offer another way for area restaurants and service providers to promote their menus, takeout & delivery specials and ANY other information they'd like to share with the public.

Because of the unprecedented circumstances we are all navigating, the chamber has chosen to encourage ANY business to join/post.

Please do the following:
(1) JOIN as your business page AND as an individual.
(2) SHARE with other businesses and individuals so they can join (membership is NOT required to join or post for this group!)
(3) POST your business' NEW or existing take-out/delivery services, menu specials, precautions you are taking for the safety of customers, etc.

Help us help and support our businesses when they need us most.

Reinhart Food Service -- If your restaurant isn’t taking online orders, here’s a great resource that can answer questions and get you started on the path to offering your customers another outlet to connect with you.

Additionally, Reinhart Food Service has available disposables for To-Go / Takeout needs.
Listed below are resources offered by our Blount Chamber members that may be beneficial during these trying times. Please review and share with another business operator if you think it may be helpful.

Send us your resources and we'll continue to communicate those out to our membership.
SD Professionals -- Offering companies with travel-related brands a resource on addressing travel safety concerns with a comprehensive checklist .

AT&T -- Tools for businesses & individuals to stay connected, including distance learning and work from home

Spectrum Enterprise -- Offering existing fiber clients the ability to upgrade their current bandwidth on a month to month basis, as many companies will need increased speeds to allow employees to work from home or to host video conferencing.

Epic Nine -- Free virtual (phone or video conferencing) one hour BaseCamp consultation to help businesses identify and implement marketing strategy.

Express Strategic Services -- Information regarding online presence, website refresh, employee communication, disaster planning. Free 1 hour strategy business/marketing session (done by phone or video conferencing).

Epic Nine -- Keep Your Pants On! How to work remotely and succeed. Learn how using valuable apps can help your team remain connected and productive while working remotely .

C-Spire -- Make your business remote-work ready. Equip your team to work from home or on the go with powerful resources like Office 365 and UC-One from C Spire Business - perfect for business of all sizes.

Creekside Cyber Systems -- Offering 19% off of many services for all who need assistance with IT until April 30. Mention the promo code COVID2020 when you speak to a representative at 865.217.6073 .

FASTSIGNS -- Offering 20% off several of its signage and banner products to help you communicate whatever you need to employees or clients. Call (865) 558-0180.

Cell Phone Repair (CPR) -- Offering free pick up and delivery repair service on your laptops, tablets and mobile devices. Device will be disinfected upon return.
Here is a brief list of online meeting options that offer video and audio capabilities. Some offer a basic free package while others have a fee to begin.

If venturing out on your own is scary, C Spire is offering free consulting to make your business remote-work ready. Please contact Todd Mason at 865.964.8061. It offers a toolkit for working from home.

Likewise, Epic Nine can show you how to work remotely and succeed. Learn how using valuable apps can help your team remain connected and productive while working remotely .

Finally, Avero Advisors produced a video entitled New Normal - COVID19 and Remote IT

Zoom -- In addition to hosting virtual meetings, Zoom allows you to share messages and files with other people on the call.

GoToMeeting -- Features team messaging, video transcriptions, and customizable settings. Ability to host up to 100 participants. Launch a meeting from your smartphone.

ezTalks -- Free for up to 100 participants with group video, audio, and chatting platform. Includes a whiteboard feature. Access ezTalks meetings on any device.

Skype Business -- Host up to 250 people, record meetings, and instant messaging. Allows users to see when members are in a meeting, offline, and available to talk. -- Free online meeting platform. Integrates with productivity tools like Outlook, Google Calendar, and Office 365.

HighFive -- Does not use passwords or pin codes to join; instead, users wait in a virtual meeting room until the meeting manager lets them in. Guarantees meeting stays secure.

Roundee -- Free video conference platform that features video conferencing, recording, and transcription services. Does not require downloads to start or join the conference.

Google Hangouts -- Free communication platform that features phone calls, video conferences and instant messaging for up to 10 users. Stream video calls on YouTube.

Adobe Connect -- Offers video chatting, screen-sharing, and instant messaging. Create micro-sites, manage emails, measure engagement, and create persistent virtual rooms.

Microsoft Teams -- Standard with Office 365 account. Start video or conference calls with groups. Premium version is free for six months and it lifted limits on free version.