Some may question whether there has been enough federal and state assistance for small businesses during the pandemic. But there has been some assistance, including the Economic Injury Disaster Grant and Loan, the Paycheck Protection Program, and the Mortgage, Utility and Rent Relief Program.

While the MURR program, operated by the North Carolina Department of Commerce, is no longer accepting applications, I wanted to share with you the story of one small business in Lee County that benefited from the program.

Phalanx Crossfit, owned by Zach and Tammy Luikart, credit the Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce with learning the MURR program existed.

“If it weren’t for the chamber letting us know about this opportunity, we wouldn’t have known to apply for it. It really is a success story for you all.” Tammy shared this with me on a call just this week.

The MURR Program was open to organizations that experienced extraordinary business disruption and had not been able to open for a period of time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some businesses that this included were fitness facilities, full-service restaurants, movie theaters and establishments primarily engaged in organizing, promoting, and/or managing live performing arts productions, concerts, and sports events held in facilities that they manage and operate, just to name a few.

But back to Phalanx for a moment. The term “phalanx” is used to describe a group of individuals working closely together to achieve a common purpose, and according to their website, “at Phalanx Crossfit, that purpose is to advance fitness and improve quality of life.”

Due to the pandemic, they were shuttered starting in March, making things such as rent and utility payments difficult, so the MURR program helped them tremendously so that they can continue to be in operation today.

Despite the pandemic and its effects on the Crossfit gym, the Luikarts actually started the Phalanx Foundation, a nonprofit organization that aims to remove barriers to fitness and improve quality of life by providing gym scholarships, running after school fitness programs, hosting youth weightlifting classes and managing Operation Christmas Hope to provide for families in the community.

But what about other businesses since the MURR is no longer available? There is good news. A second round of the Paycheck Protection Program is expected to open this week. This is for businesses who received a PPP the first go-round, but have exhausted those funds and still need additional assistance. Assistance of up to $2 million is available depending on certain payroll calculations. Businesses must have less than 300 employees and a decrease in gross revenue of 25% between a quarter in 2019 and a quarter in 2020. Businesses need to contact their banks or other lenders now to get applications completed in a timely fashion, as funds are limited.

Another option is the Employee Retention Tax Credit. Has your business retained your employees during the pandemic? There is good news for you, too. The tax credit allowances have been expanded and the new rules allow you to receive PPP funding, while still taking advantage of this tax credit. It is essential to call your accountant or tax professional now in order to take advantage of this program.

So, while some state and federal programs have exhausted their funds, there are now new and expanded programs available to help your small business. Never hesitate to call the Chamber of Commerce for further guidance on these programs.