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COVID-19 Small Business Funding

State Loan and Grant Programs

Mortgage, Utility, and Rent Relief (MURR) Program. 

Program Update - as of 5:30pm, November 12, 2020:

  • The Mortgage, Utility, and Rent Relief (MURR) Program is no longer accepting any new applications. 
  • As of Nov. 12, it has received more requests for assistance than the amount of money that was made available for the MURR Program. (Applications for this assistance were served on a first-come, first-served basis.)
  • The MURR program is for businesses or nonprofit organizations (nonprofits became eligible as of October 27 amd restaurants as of November 12); For citizens seeking help with rent or utility payments, Governor Cooper has announced the N.C. Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions (HOPE) Program.  For more information on the HOPE program, call 2-1-1 or visit to apply online.

Program Update - as of November 11, 2020:

  • Beginning Thursday, November 12 at 8:00 a.m., full-service restaurants will be eligible to apply to the MURR Program for the first time.
  • Restaurants may only request direct payments for up to four months of rent or mortgage interest - restaurants will not be eligible for utility cost reimbursement.
  • Restaurants may request payments for up to $20,000 per location, for no more than two locations, and must employ fewer than 50 people at the location where they are seeking assistance.
  • Anyone who previously met MURR Program eligibility requirements and already submitted an application will not be negatively impacted by these new changes.  Among other things, you will not lose your place in line.
  • It is expected that this program change will quickly lead to the exhaustion of available funds for the MURR program.
  • Before you apply, review the questions first so that you can prepare your answers and gather your documents before starting the actual online application.
  • Register for a free educational webinar to be held Thursday, November 12 at 9:00 a.m.

The Mortgage, Utility and Rent Relief (MURR) Program, is a grant program that provides financial relief to businesses in certain industries that were closed due to COVID-19. Eligible organizations now include museums, concert hall operators, live theater operators, performing arts center operators, indoor fitness and recreational sports facilities, aquariums, zoos, wild animal parks, and botanical gardens. Other eligible businesses include amusement arcades, amusement parks, bowling centers, drinking places, and more.

Grants are available to eligible organizations with 50 or fewer employees per location that were closed between April and July 2020 due to COVID-19. Grants are available up to $20,000 per facility (for a total of $40,000 for an organization with two or more facilities). To check if your business is eligible or to apply, visit NC Commerce’s website.

RETOOLNC grant program. Application is temporarily closed.
N.C. minority- and women-owned businesses hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic have access to guidance and $12 million in grants to help them weather the crisis. The N.C. Department of Administration launched a new grant program, RETOOLNC, to help N.C. Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUB) and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) firms impacted by COVID-19. RETOOLNC will provide eligible HUB and DBE firms an opportunity to receive up to $25,000 in grant funding.

Export Support Grants. Companies with fewer than 500 employees are eligible for reimbursements of as much as $5,000 for registering a booth in an in-person or virtual international trade show; as much as $6,000 for related foreign-language translation of marketing materials; and as much as $3,000 for airfare and lodging connected to an in-person event.  In addition, the program administered by the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina provides as much as $10,000 to help a small business pay for translation and search-engine optimization of its website in two global markets. Companies interested in participating should email the international trade division at

N.C. Main Street list of small business grants available in cities, counties and towns

Federal Loan and Grant Programs

The following information is designed to help you navigate the five federal funding streams:  

First, review the SBA's Debt Relief Program for current loans: If you already have an existing 7(a), 504, or Microloan with the SBA then your payments will be deferred. According to the SBA, they will pay the principal, interest, and any associated fees for six months beginning with your April payment (if you have already made it, we have been told you can ask for it back). Talk with your lending agent to confirm details.

Then, apply for an emergency loan: There are three federal economic emergency loan programs for your consideration:

There have been five federal loan and grant programs offered in 2020 to help your small or mid-size business during this COVID-19 crisis:  

  1. 7(a), 504, and Microloan Payment Relief
  2. Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) 
  3. EIDL Grant (formerly called “EIDL Cash Advance”)  
  4. Express Bridge Loan
  5. Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) 

As of Monday, June 15th the SBA has resumed processing EIDL applications for small businesses (now including sole proprietorship and independent contractors). The application is still open today. Click here to learn more about the program.

  • You can click here to apply:
    After you confirm eligibility, the process is then 3 super simple pages. It takes about a half hour to complete with the most important questions to pay attention to are:
    • Number of employees (see grant note below)
    • Gross Revenues for the Twelve(12) Month Prior to the Date of the Disaster (January 31, 2020)
    • Cost of Goods Sold for the Twelve(12) Month Prior to the Date of the Disaster (January 31, 2020)
  • EIDL Grant (formerly called "EIDL Cash Advance") funds have been fully allocated and are not currently available. 
  • For EIDL Loan approval you’ll be sent an e-mail to accept with a sliding scale of how much you would like. Terms are fabulous. 3.75% fixed over 30 years. Then a loan officer gives you a call to verify identity and approve.

If you already have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender and have an urgent need for cash, then the SBA Express Disaster Bridge Loan will allow you to access up to $25,000 quickly. This loan can be a term loan or used to bridge the gap while waiting for the decision and disbursement on an EIDL. 

Notice: Paycheck Protection Program closed August 8, 2020

The PPP is a $350+$310 billion program established through the recent CARES Act on 3/27/20 (and recharged with funding on 4.23.2020) that uses loan forgiveness to help businesses keep employees on payroll. The PPP is administered through local and regional banks and includes loans of up to $10 million to cover payroll, interest on mortgage payments (principal or prepayments excluded), rent, utilities, and interest on any debt. 

New Forgiveness Rules for PPPs under $50,000
Pro Tip: While the SBA has produced a loan forgiveness application for PPPs less than $50,000 (linked below), you should wait for your bank, credit union, or fintech to set up a forgiveness application/portal, as they will need to process the forgiveness.  Reminder, you have 10 months following the end of your spending period to apply for forgiveness, so you have some time.  Click here to view the simpler loan forgiveness application and here for instructions for completing it. Click here to view the Interim Final Rule on the simpler forgiveness process for loans of $50,000 or less.

General PPP Forgiveness Anxiety
We are hearing local business anxiety about their PPP loan forgiveness.  Please be patient as many banks have not yet launched their forgiveness portals and borrowers you have 10 months following the end of their spending period to apply for forgiveness.  In addition, Federal government may offer additional flexibility for smaller loans which may be worth waiting for.  We encourage continued patience.

We know the federal funding streams are complicated . The SBA's breakdown of funding options is extremely useful. 

The Chamber is archiving all of our past seminars and briefings here.

Covid Loan Tracker is surveying small businesses across the country and reporting their experiences with the PPP, including loan amounts, processing time, etc. Check it out, and keep in mind this is only based on self-reporting. 

Business Counseling

NC Small Business and Technology Development Centers (SBTDC)

The SBTDC provides real-time, one-to-one counseling for local business owners and managers as they navigate these challenging times, on topics including cashflow and staff scenario-planning, access to capital and help with applying for business loans. They also have an excellent state-level page of resources. The SBTDC Center in Chapel Hill serves small and mid-size businesses throughout Alamance, Chatham, Lee, Orange, and Person Counties. Schedule a free and confidential business counseling session now

Another free, confidential business counseling resource is at the Small Business Center at Durham Tech, which serves Durham and Orange Counties, and Central Carolina Community College, which serves Chatham, Harnett, and Lee counties.

The Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina compiled a list of resources here. Their business counselors are also available to answer questions by phone at 800.228.8443. 

Nonprofits: Triangle Community Foundation has compiled a really useful list of resources, available here.