COVID-19 Resources and Information
During the coming weeks and months, the Southwestern Commission will be working to ensure that our communities have access to the most up-to-date information on the response to COVID-19 from the local, state, and federal government, non-profits, and foundations. This will be a difficult time for everyone, and our communities will suffer from the negative social and economic impact. Our organization is poised to assist in recovery efforts.

Below you will find a comprehensive list of resources pertaining to the COVID-19 response. This guide will be updated regularly-- please check our website and Facebook page for updates.
US Small Business Administration Loan Programs
The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.

SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.

The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.

Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program allows small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 with less paperwork.

Click HERE for a great overview of SBA programs from the Small Business and Technology Development Center.
Learn about COVID-19 Unemployment Benefits


  • For general questions about unemployment benefits in North Carolina during the COVID-19 crisis, contact the Division of Employment Security
  • Employees with questions about the application and benefits can read more about requirements and steps to get an unemployment benefit payment here
  • Employers who have questions about their role in the process can read more about what is required of them to help their workers quialify for benefits here
  • To report technical difficulties using the online tools provided by the Division of Employment Security, contact the office via the form at
What Resources and Funding Opportunities are Available for Businesses?
Multiple resources are up and running for businesses as they navigate the challenges brought on by the coronavirus crisis.

The Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC) has released a COVID-19 Business Impact Survey, which will be very important as we begin to tell the collective story of the COVID-19 virus impact on our business community locally. In addition, EDPNC has created a resource page ( EDPNC North Carolina Business Relief Resources- COVID-19) that covers topics such as supply chain disruptions, manufacturing Personal Protective Equipment, unemployment insurance claims, grant and loan programs, and many others.

Also, NC Commerce has created an Employer Resource Guide and NC Department of Agriculture has created a web page full of resources for disaster planning for farms and agribusinesses.

The Small Business and Technology Development Center is a first responder to disaster relief in NC and will be a resource for business coaching and for help with loan applications. Contact Sandra Dennison at [email protected] or by phone at 828.338.9317.

The Small Business Centers at Haywood Community College, Southwestern Community College, and Tri-County Community College are also excellent resources for small businesses. Follow the links above to find contact information for each Center.

Many organizations have announced opportunities for loan and/or grant funding, and we have listed those below, along with local organizations who are excellent resources for small businesses:
Telephone: 919-212-4950;

Telephone: 828-359-5006
Telephone: 800-476-7428

Telephone: 919-803-1437
Many other resources are available for businesses during this time, and if you are unable to find what you are looking for, please do not hesitate to reach out to us, your county Economic Development Director.
Additional Opportunities for Emergency Funding
What a Stay-at-Home Order Means
NC Gov. Roy Cooper announced that a statewide stay-at-home order would go into effect at 5 p.m. on Monday, March 30.

For information on what is allowed and what is not allowed under this order, read the full article from Carolina Public Press.

Click to see the list of essential businesses that are allowed to remain open under this order. If your business is not listed among essential businesses that can remain open, you may submit a request to be considered an essential business.

UNC School of Government blog, " Stay-At-Home Orders, Charges, and Stops"
Information for Older Adults
All congregate/Nutrition centers across the region are closed until April 30. Drive- thru options as well as home delivered options vary depending on the county. Please call your local senior center for details. Senior center staff continue to make well check calls to older adults on a regular basis.

If you are in need of assistance, please call your local senior center for information or the Area Agency on Aging at (828)586-1962 x220.

Cherokee County - (828) 837-2467
Clay County - (828) 389-9271
Graham County - (828) 479-7977
Haywood County - (828) 356-2800
Jackson - (828) 586-5494
Macon - (828) 349-2058
Swain - (828) 488-3047
EBCI - (828) 497-4471
Mountain Projects - (828) 452-1447 or (828) 356 2800

In addition, a new website,, was launched with the intention of helping people in need of assistance (such as people who are elderly, immunocompromised, or at high risk of COVID-19) request grocery pickup, food delivery, wellness checkups, prescription pickups, or other services.

Dogwood Health Trust Creates WNC COVID-19 Resource Website
Dogwood Health Trust (DHT) has created a new data and scenario planning site for addressing COVID-19 in Western North Carolina. DHT created this site in order to prepare a regional resource that can help Western North Carolinians in their decision-making.

DHT has also announced its plan for a $10 Million Coronavirus response. The three broad strategies to its coronavirus response: slow transmission, prepare for crisis, and mitigate the social ramifications of this truly novel virus.

Looking for Resources Specific to Local Government Response?
UNC School of Government offers blog posts, webinars, and other resources and information for North Carolina public officials across a variety of subject areas about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The North Carolina League of Municipalities has also created a web page full of resources for municipalities in North Carolina in response to COVID-19.

Information for Local Governments Who Plan to Utilize FEMA Assistance
At 2:00 pm on April 8th, North Carolina Emergency Management will hold a call for the western region to explain the process for applying for FEMA reimbursement for costs associated with COVID-19.   REGISTER HERE.

Costs retroactive to January 20, 2020, are eligible and the period has no end point at this time. Eligible applicants are encouraged to begin the process now. To find out if your organization is eligible, email [email protected]. The steps for applying can be found HERE. The threshold for applying is $3,300 and costs can include, but are not limited to training, disinfecting materials, staff over-time, use of equipment you already own, and medical costs.
CARES Act Summaries and Analysis
If you are looking for additional information or a synopsis of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, you might find the resources below helpful:

The Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Department of Treasury have begun releasing the information that will guide the programs created through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. For information specifically related to small business owners, view the Small Business Owner's Guide to the CARES Act
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