Guidance for Businesses & Employers
Federal Guidelines for Re-Opening America
President Trump announced new federal guidelines on April 17 that governors can use to re-open their states amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The national plan lays out three phases that slowly return life to a "new normal" that continues to use some of the most fundamental aspects of social distancing.
Phase 1: All vulnerable individuals continue to stay at home. Physical distancing must be practiced in public places and non-essential travel must be minimized. If schools are closed, they should stay closed. Visiting senior living centers is still not allowed.
Phase 2: Non-essential travel may resume. People should avoid public gatherings of 50 or more, unless physical distancing is possible. Visits to senior centers would still be prohibited, but schools and day care centers could reopen.
Phase 3: This would be the country's "new normal." Physical distancing in public places is still recommended, but vulnerable individuals can resume public activities. Visits to senior centers can resume.
There is no set timeline for moving through each of the three phases. Governors will make that decision, but a state or region would have to experience another 14-day decline in cases before moving to the next phase.
Governor's Report to Open Texas
On April 27, Governor Abbott released the Report to Open Texas, which lays out a clear plan for reopening closed businesses across the state in a phased approach. Access the full report via the link below and find guidance for specific industries and allowable open dates.
Health Protocols from the Texas Department of State Health Services:
Safety Practices for Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to COVID-19
To ensure continuity of operations of essential functions, CDC advises that critical infrastructure workers may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to COVID-19, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community.
Guidance for Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
OSHA provides guidance and other resources for preventing exposure to, and infection with, the novel coronavirus in the workplace.
Business Resliency Planning
The Resilience in a Box toolkit is helpful for businesses that need help putting a plan in place.
Houston Worksafe Program
As the Houston region moves to reopen our economy, it is important that we do so safely, sustainably and successfully. Get best practices, tools and guidance from the Greater Houston Partnership's Houston Work Safe Program and take the pledge to be a Work Safe Company.
COVID-19 Return To Work Checklist
COVID-19 Return-to-Work Checklist for Businesses
As more and more states and organizations are planning to reopen and return to work, it is critical that businesses take action to prepare the workplace and employees for a safe and successful return. We have developed a checklist of recommendations to help with the transition.
Small Business Paycheck Protection Program
The Paycheck Protection Program is providing small businesses with the resources they need to maintain their payroll, hire back employees who may have been laid off, and cover applicable overhead.
The Paycheck Protection Program established by the CARES Act, is implemented by the Small Business Administration with support from the Department of the Treasury. This program provides small businesses with funds to pay up to 8 weeks of payroll costs including benefits. Funds can also be used to pay interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities.
The Paycheck Protection Program prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses.
Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards.
- Top-line Overview of PPP (3/31/2020)
- SBA Paycheck Protection Program Loan Report (4/16/2020)
- Paycheck Protection Program Forgiveness (4/24/2020)
- More information (3/31/2020)
- Search Tool: Find an Eligible Lender
- Borrow Application Form (4/2/20)
- Applicable Affiliation Rules
- More information (3/31/2020)
- Lender Application Form (4/2/2020)
- Lender Application Form for Federally Insured Depository Institutions, Federally Insured Credit Unions and Farm Credit System Institutions (4/3/2020)
- Lender Application Form for Non-Bank and Non-Insured Depository Institution Lenders (4/8/2020)
- Frequently Asked Questions (4/24/2020)
- Interim Final Rules 1 (4/2/2020)
- Interim Final Rule on Applicable Affiliation Rules (4/3/2020)
- Interim Final Rule on Additional Eligibility Criteria and Requirements for Certain Pledges of Loans (4/14/2020)
- Interim Final Rule on Requirements for Promissory Notes, Authorizations, Affiliation and Eligility (4/24/2020)
Economic Injury Disaster Loans
In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. This advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Funds will be made available following a successful application. This loan advance will not have to be repaid.
The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan provides vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This program is for any small business with fewer than 500 employees (including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed persons), private non-profit organization or 501(c)(19) veterans organizations affected by COVID-19.
Businesses in certain industries may have more than 500 employees if they meet the SBA’s size standards for those industries.
The Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance funds will be made available within days of a successful application, and this loan advance will not have to be repaid.
SBA Pilot Loan Programs
Community Advantage Loan Program
In the Community Advantage program, community-based, mission-focused lenders meet the credit, management, and technical assistance needs of small businesses in underserved markets. Program expiration is March 31, 2020.
Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program
Allows for SBA-guaranteed financing on an emergency basis for disaster-related purposes for eligible small businesses to access up to $25,000 with less paperwork while awaiting long-term financing through the EIDL. Program expiration is September 30, 2020.
Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program Guide, V.2
Requirements, conditions, and list of forms required to apply for the Bridge Loan (Mar 25, 2020)
SBA Debt Relief
The SBA is providing a financial reprieve to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of SBA's debt relief efforts,
- The SBA will automatically pay the principal, interest, and fees of current 7(a), 504, and microloans for a period of six months.
- The SBA will also automatically pay the principal, interest, and fees of new 7(a), 504, and microloans issued prior to September 27, 2020.
Additional Debt Relief
For current SBA Serviced Disaster (Home and Business) Loans: If your disaster loan was in “regular servicing” status on March 1, 2020, the SBA is providing automatic deferments through December 31, 2020.
What does an “automatic deferral” mean to borrowers?
- Interest will continue to accrue on the loan.
- 1201 monthly payment notices will continue to be mailed out which will reflect the loan is deferred and no payment is due.
- The deferment will NOT cancel any established Preauthorized Debit (PAD) or recurring payments on your loan. Borrowers that have established a PAD through Pay.Gov or an OnLine Bill Pay Service are responsible for canceling these recurring payments. Borrowers that had SBA establish a PAD through Pay.gov will have to contact their SBA servicing office to cancel the PAD.
- Borrowers preferring to continue making regular payments during the deferment period may continue remitting payments during the deferment period. SBA will apply those payments normally as if there was no deferment.
- After this automatic deferment period, borrowers will be required to resume making regular principal and interest payments. Borrowers that cancelled recurring payments will need to reestablish the recurring payment.
If you have questions about your current loan and whether or not your loan is automatically deferred, please contact your Loan Servicing Office directly using the following information:
- Birmingham Disaster Loan Servicing Center:
- Phone: 800-736-6048
- Email: BirminghamDLSC@sba.gov
- El Paso Disaster Loan Servicing Center:
- Phone: 800-487-6019
- Email: ElPasoDLSC@sba.gov
Texas Small Business Assistance Loan Program
$50 million in loans to small businesses in Texas
Goldman Sachs and the LiftFund, along with other community development financial institutions (CDFIs), are partnering to provide $50 million in loans to small businesses in Texas that have been affected by COVID-19 as part of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.
These loans, made through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), will primarily be used for payroll so that employees can continue to receive paychecks and small businesses can retain their employees and will be partially or wholly forgiven.
Goldman Sachs will provide the capital as part of its $550 million commitment to COVID-19 relief, and LiftFund, alongside other CDFIs, will administer the funding to qualified small businesses. If all stipulations are met, small business can have their loans forgiven in full by the SBA.
►Business owners can apply for a PPP loan and find more information about the program on the LiftFund website.
LiftFund is a nonprofit organization, headquartered in San Antonio, that helps small business owners with limited access to capital. The company offers small business loans and minority business loans for entrepreneurs. LiftFund partners with SBA lenders and other lending institutions to provide startup loans, SBA 504 Loans, and microloans in Texas, and throughout the South Eastern U.S. In 2018, LiftFund had 591 donors, 118 investors, 500 partners, and 100 employees.
The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. is a leading global investment banking, securities and investment management firm that provides a wide range of financial services to a substantial and diversified client base that includes corporations, financial institutions, governments and individuals. Founded in 1869, the firm is headquartered in New York and maintains offices in all major financial centers around the world.
Coronavirus Tax Relief
Businesses with less than 500 employees can get funds to provide employees with paid leave, either for the employee's own health needs or to care for family members.
Texas Comptroller Assistance
The Texas Comptroller is offering assistance to those businesses that are struggling to pay the full amount of sales taxes they have collected from customers. For businesses that find themselves in this situation, the Texas Comptroller is offering assistance in the form of short-term payment agreements and, in most instances, waivers of penalties and interest.
Tuesday, May 12 | 2-3 p.m.
The State of Energy: Industry in Peril
How will the energy industry’s downturn affect Houston's economy? How will the decline in global oil demand impact Houston’s energy workforce now and in the future? Those issues and much, much, more.
Thursday, May 21 | 10-11 a.m.
Ready, Set, Grow!
Get unstuck by learning proven and practical tools that will facilitate a more peaceful and energized life.
Is A Virtual Event Right for You?
The Wolford Group
In this season of postponed and canceled events, The Wolford Group explores the considerations to decide the next steps that are right for your organization and gives concrete examples of virtual events that are working.
COVID-19 Legislation and SBA Resources for Nonprofits
Briggs & Veselka
Resources to help nonprofits understand the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, CARES Act and SBA Loans.
Managing Ourselves and Team During and After Crisis
Coaching & Consulting Experience, LLC
U.S. Chamber Resources
Resources for small businesses compiled by the U.S. Chamber including toolkits and financial relief options.
Office of Texas Governor
The Office of the Texas Governor provides COVID-19 updates, resources and information for Texas businesses. The page includes FAQs relating to COVID-19, detailed section on how small businesses and private, nonprofit organizations can apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans and information on unemployment benefits for those affected by COVID-19.
Texas Workforce CommissionState resources including information for employers impacted by COVID-19.
Small Business Development Centers
Better Business Bureau
Tips, alerts and other information from the Better Business Bureau around COVID-19.
Public Health Resources
Montgomery County Public Health District Resources
Case figures across the county, resource phone numbers and more from the Montgomery County Public Health District.
Montgomery County Coronavirus Response Hub
Information, maps and resources about the coronavirus response in Montgomery County, Texas.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and PreventionThe latest from the CCD on the U.S. response to the virus.
Support The Woodlands Area
Promote Your BusinessThe Woodlands Area Chamber encourages you to use our website and social media network to promote your business. Here are a number of ways we can help you get the word out.Webinars
The Chamber provides a forum for members to host webinars covering topics of interest to businesses during this time, including financial planning, marketing during a crisis, SBA loans and more.Community CalendarThe online community calendar has become a central hub of local events that are being held virtually. Individuals and businesses can view and register for upcoming events or post their own.
► How to Add an Event WebinarNews ReleasesThe News section of our website is a widely used platform that includes daily press releases with information regarding changes in the business community, available loans and individual business updates.Hot Deals
Interactive Hot Deals allow members to connect with one another by sharing special discounts of offers that are available to fellow Chamber members or the general public.Job BoardLooking to hire employees that match your company's mission? In search of volunteers? Post opportunities on our website's job board for free.Chamber Social MediaWe encourage all members to use the Chamber's social media pages to promote their business. Use #TheWoodlandsBiz and tag us and we will share your posts.
- Facebook: @TheWoodlandsAreaChamber
- Instagram: @TheWoodlandsChamber
- Twitter: @ChamberChatting
- LinkedIn: The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce
Retailers: Submit your curbside shopping information here to be included in the Chamber's Retail to Go Guide.
Declarations issued by the State of Texas and Montgomery County:
July 2, 2020
State of Texas to Issue a Face Mask Order
March 27, 2020
Montgomery County Issues Order Stay Home, Stop the Spread
March 19, 2020
State of Texas Issues Declaration of Public Health Disaster
Between the Trees
Elected officials and subject matter experts provide information on relief options and perspective on The Woodlands area's situation
Commissioner Riley shares transportation updates and the county's response to the latest COVID-19 news.
May 20, 2020: Conroe Independent School District
Conroe ISD closed in accordance with Governor Abbott's directive on April 17, 2020. The remainder of CISD's academic year will e completed through distant learning. Hear the latest updates from Superintendent Curtis Null.
May 13, 2020: Lone Star College
Lone Star College is open for business! Hear the latest news from the chancellor. Stephen C. Head, Ph.D. was appointed as the fourth chancellor of Lone Star College in 2014 after a 30-year history.
April 30, 2020: Market Street, The Woodlands Mall
Beginning Friday, May 1, Texas retailers and restaurants will be able to open for business at 25 percent capacity, per Governor Greg Abbott's announcement earlier this week. Ted Harris, senior general manager of The Woodlands Mall, and Jenny Taylor, general manager of Market Street - The Woodlands, discuss the impact in The Woodlands area.
April 22, 2020: The Woodlands Bar Association
Three attorneys from The Woodlands Bar Association discuss employment law considerations for businesses and employers during COVID-19. MCLE and State Bar College Credit
April 17, 2020: Ray Sanders, Woodforest National Bank
Ray Sanders, executive vice president of Woodforest National Bank, provides an update on federal programs and aid for small business coronavirus assistance.
April 8, 2020: Charles Abell, SBA Houston
Charles Abell, economic development specialist and public information officer with the U.S. Small Business Administration Houston District Office, shares information on how to apply and where you can get additional help with preparing for and applying for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
April 1, 2020: U.S. Congressman Kevin Brady
U.S. Congressman Kevin Brady explains how the federal government is responding to the coronavirus pandemic.
March 30, 2020: Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough
Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough discusses COVID-19 and its effect on The Woodlands area residents and businesses.
Gordy Bunch, chairman of The Woodlands Township, and Bruce Rieser, chairman of Visit The Woodlands, give an update on the state of The Woodlands.