SBDC's Mary Cervantes: Pandemic panic severely affects business
Small Business

SBDC's Mary Cervantes: Pandemic panic severely affects business

Mary Cervantes

Mary Cervantes is a columnist for the Napa Valley Register.

Individuals can adapt to isolation. You stay home, hibernate, clean house, take a walk, do board games with the kids…you sleep, slow the pace, rejuvenate and regenerate. And try not to panic!

But what about businesses? Our economy is based on tourism, on the economic livelihood of our community. When everyone stays home and tourists don’t come, THERE IS NO BUSINESS!

What happens then?

There’s help for businesses from the federal government, the State of California and the Napa Sonoma Small Business Development Center.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering low-interest loans to small businesses that have been severely impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides working capital loans to help overcome the loss of revenue. Call the Napa Sonoma Small Business Development Center at 707-256-7250 for assistance in navigating the loan application process and go to for additional guidance.

Businesses can avoid potential layoffs by participating in the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Work Sharing Program.

This program allows you to retain your workers by reducing their hours and wages no more than 60 percent and partially offsetting the wage loss with UI benefits.

This helps avoid the cost of recruiting, hiring, and training new workers and helps your workers keep their jobs and receive some financial support with unemployment benefits.

What if you have to let go of workers temporarily until business improves?

Your workers can file for unemployment benefits as long as they are unemployed and otherwise eligible.

Workers who expect to return to work for you within a few weeks are not required to actively seek work as long as they are able and available to return to work and meet all other eligibility criteria.

The Employment Development Department (EDD) will explain the requirements to your workers during application. Go to

EDD has a website dedicated to the resources available to COVID-19 impacted businesses:

What can you do if you have to close your business permanently?

You can get help through the Rapid Response program. Services can include upgrades to current worker skills, customized training, career counseling, job search assistance, help with filing unemployment insurance claims, and information about training opportunities.

For more information, contact Sylwia Palczswska at or call 707-699-1947. Also contact Stacey Caico at 707-530-2322 or

What if you can’t file or pay payroll taxes on time because of COVID-19?

With the Governor’s emergency declaration, you can request up to a 60-day extension to file your state payroll reports and deposit state payroll taxes without penalty or interest. Details at and look under “disaster related services.”

You can also call the EDD Taxpayer Assistance Center with questions about your payroll tax responsibilities at 1-888-745-3886.

We have survived the big earthquake, devastating fires and together with help, we’ll also get through this health and economic crisis.

If you are interested in meeting with a Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Center (SBDC) business advisor, call 707-256-7250 or visit

Mary Cervantes is the business services director for Napa Valley College Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Center. Reach her at 256-7253 or

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