MISSION: The Office of Business Opportunities (OBO) is committed to supporting initiatives that benefit small, minority, veteran, and women owned businesses located in, or that want to do business with, the City of Columbia. This is accomplished by providing creative financing, technical assistance and capacity building opportunities that contribute to the economic growth of all communities.
|COMMERCIAL LENDING: |
Financial assistance to start-up and existing businesses for growth, expansion, retention and the creation of new jobs, and assistance in the redevelopment of commercial corridors that have become significantly deteriorated within the City.
TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE, EDUCATION & ADVOCACY:
|CONTRACTOR & SUPPLIER DIVERSITY: |
Training and support for city initiatives designed to increase local contractor’s capacity to compete for government contracts and other procurement opportunities. We are also responsible for the implementation of the City’s Disparity Study Goals and Objectives.
Programs include: Sub-Contractor Outreach; Mentor Protégé; Local Business Enterprise; Columbia Disadvantage Business Enterprise; and Construction Management Training.
STAY CONNECTED BY FOLLOWING US!
City of Columbia's Title VI Public Participation Plan
Click here to read our City's Title VI Public Participation Plan!
City of Columbia's Office of Business Opportunities Newsletter
Click here to join our email list and for current subscribers, please share our newsletter on your social media!
City of Columbia's Minority Business Opportunities Directory
The Office of Business Opportunities is pleased to announce the City of Columbia's Minority Business Opportunities Directory for small, minority, and women-owned businesses! This directory consists of purchasing points of contact and listings of goods/services purchased by City departments and our community partners. The directory also includes a listing of technical assistance providers for existing and new small businesses that are in need of assistance in strengthening, growing or pivoting their businesses! To review the Directory, click on the following link, City of Columbia's Minority Business Opportunities Directory.
City of Columbia's Resilient Columbia CARES Act Revolving Loan Fund
Does your business need financial assistance due to COVID-19? The Resilient Columbia CARES Act Revolving Loan is available for City of Columbia businesses. The current financial environment due to COVID-19 has placed a burden on local entrepreneurs who are trying to keep their businesses open in today’s turbulent economy. To “prevent, prepare for, and respond” to the economic injury attributed to the coronavirus (COVID-19), these funds will be used to finance small businesses located within the corporate limits of the City of Columbia that have been impacted by the pandemic. To read more on the Resilient Columbia CARES Act Revolving Loan Fund, click here. For additional information and to apply, click on the Commercial Loans link at the top of the page.
If you would like to do business with the City or would like to learn more about upcoming opportunities, please register your business on eBid, by clicking on the following link, City of Columbia, SC eBid.
CORONAVIRUS: INFORMATION AND RESOURCES
City of Columbia's Office of Business Opportunities, U.S. Small Business Administration (Columbia, SC), and Optus Bank present the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Eligibility & Understanding the Application Process Virtual Workshop
The City of Columbia's Office of Business Opportunities along with the U.S. Small Business Administration and Optus Bank present the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Eligibility & Understanding the Application Process Virtual Workshop! During this workshop, participants will learn more on the application process for the Paycheck Protection Program along with other tools and resources they can use to assist them during the application process! Guests speakers include U.S. SBA District Director Greg White, Optus Bank President & CEO Dominik Mjartan, and Mayor Steve Benjamin! To register for this workshop, click on the link below:
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Eligibility & Understanding the Application Process Virtual Workshop Registration Link
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Eligibility & Understanding the Application Process Virtual Workshop Flyer
U.S. Small Business Administration Information and Guidance on Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has issued rules and guidance for the $285 billion Paycheck Protection Program loans. SBA in consultation with the Department of Treasury, announced the Paycheck Protection Program will re-open the week of January 11, 2021 for new borrowers and existing borrowers. The initial wave of loans issued on Monday, January 11th and Wednesday, January 13th will only be available to community financial institutions, but the PPP will open up to all eligible lenders shortly thereafter. In the links provided, rules and guidance for first-time and second-time borrowers along with guidance SBA prepared to help minority, underserved, veteran, and women-owned businesses to access SBA pandemic relief assistance. Also, click here to go to SBA's website for more information regarding the Paycheck Protection Program!
The deadline to apply for the first round of the Paycheck Protection Program is March 31, 2021 and the deadline to apply for the second round of the Paycheck Protection Program is December 31, 2021. If you have any questions, please contact the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Guidance on Accessing Capital for Minority, Underserved, Veteran, and Women-Owned Businesses
Rules and Guidance for First-Time PPP Borrowers
Rules and Guidance for Second-Time PPP Borrowers
Recently Passed $900 Billion COVID-19 Aid Includes $325 Billion For Businesses
U.S. Small Business Administration: U.S. Congress recently passed a $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill. This will include $325 billion for businesses. To read more on this relief bill, click here for more!
U.S. Conference of Mayors To Offer Free Small Business Webinar on Surviving the Pandemic
The U.S. Conference of Mayors along with Mayor Steve Benjamin are inviting all Midlands small business owners to participate in a free small business webinar on Tuesday, January 12th at 12:00PM. Louis Mosca of American Management Services will share business survival tips for the pandemic and discuss proven strategies with the potential to help boost revenue, increase profit and grow your business! For more information and to register, click on the link below!
U.S. Conference of Mayors Small Business Webinar
2021 NxLevel Micro Entrepreneur and FastTrac Growth Venture Courses
The City of Columbia's Office of Business Opportunities is now accepting applications for the NxLevel Micro Entrepreneur and FastTrac Growth Venture courses beginning in February 2021! To find those applications and for additional information, click on one of the links below!
2021 NxLevel Micro Entrepreneur
2021 FastTrac Growth Venture
City of Columbia Receives $2.9 Million EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance Grant
The City of Columbia has received $2.9 million from the EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance Grant to assist small businesses that have been economically impacted due to COVID-19. To read more on this annoucement, click on the link below!
City of Columbia Receives $2.9 million from EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance Grant
UPCOMING COVID-19 WEBINARS AND EVENTS
|South Carolina Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Training Events Calendar|
INFORMATION FOR BUSINESSES REOPENING
City Planning & Development Services Center: Outdoor Dining Encroachments Policy
As you prepare to reopen your business, please use the link below to ensure your dining area will meet the Outdoor Dining Policy. The City of Columbia supports and encourages the public use and enjoyment of sidewalks, tree zones, and other right-of-way areas for outdoor dining in all entertainment districts; however, use of sidewalks and other public areas must be ADA compliant, safe for pedestrian and vehicular traffic, and meet established design guidelines.
Contained in one, fillable document:
Rules & Regulations;
Dining Encroachment Permit Application Checklist;
Acknowledgement of Permittee to Request for an Outdoor Dining Encroachment Permit; and
Outdoor Dining Encroachment Application
YOU AND YOUR SMALL BUSINESS
Information from the Internal Revenue Service
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has provided great information to assist you and your small business in recovering financially due to #COVID-19. Click on one of the following links to learn more!
IRS Annual "Dirty Dozen" List
IRS Video on Economic Impact Payments
IRS Newsletter - August 2020
SBA: New Eligibility for Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Advance -- AGRICULTURE BUSINESSES ONLY!
At this time, only agricultural business applications are being accepted due to limitations in funding availability and the unprecedented submission of applications already received. Applicants who have already submitted their applications will continue to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. For agricultural businesses that submitted an EIDL application through the streamlined application portal prior to the legislative change, SBA will process these applications without the need for re-applying.
SBA Disaster Loan Applications
SBA Express Bridge Loan Program Now Available!
Express Bridge Loan Program Now Available: The Express Bridge loan program allows SBA Express lenders to provide expedited financing to small businesses located in declared disaster areas. Express Bridge loans are intended to be interim loans. Businesses use these funds for disaster-related purposes while they apply for and await long-term financing.
SBA Express Bridge Loan Program Guide
SBA: Small Business Disaster Assistance for COVID-19 Low-Interest Working Capital Loan
SBA: Economic Injury Disaster Advance Loan (EIDL)
SBA: FACT SHEET - Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)
The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
SBA: Low-Interest Working Capital Loans - Eligibility Areas
SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Advance Loans: NEW, STREAMLINED APPLICATION (3/31/2020)
If you wish to apply for the Advance on your EIDL, please visit www.SBA.gov/Disaster as soon as possible to fill out a new, streamlined application. In order to qualify for the Advance, you need to submit this new application even if you previously submitted an EIDL application. Applying for the Advance will not impact the status or slow your existing application.
EIDL is offering up to $2 million in assistance. Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) - ADVANCE LOANS of UP TO $10,000: Working capital loans to help small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives , small business engaged in aquaculture, and most private , non-profit organizations of all sizes meet their ordinary and necessary financial obligations that cannot be met as a direct result of the disaster. These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The deadline to apply is December 21, 2020.
View SBA Slide Presentation: EIDL Apply Online Details
SBA: Economic Injury Disaster Advance Loan (EIDL)
SBA FACT SHEET EIDL
Traditional SBA Lenders CANNOT process SBA Disaster Loans. Once your state and area obtain the Local Disaster Declaration, your company can apply directly to the SBA Disaster Office for long term loans with reasonable interest rates.
Apply Directly: SBA Disaster Office
US Department of Labor: Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA): Questions and Answers (4/28/2020)
As provided under the legislation, the U.S. Department of Labor will be issuing & implementing regulations. Additionally, as warranted, the Department will continue to provide compliance assistance to employers and employees on their responsibilities and rights under the FFCRA.
88 Questions and Answers Sorted by Category (Definitions, Eligibility, Coverage, Application, Enforcement)
News Release: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR ACTS TO HELP AMERICAN WORKERS & EMPLOYERS DURING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
WASHINGTON, DC – Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor took a range of actions to aid American workers and employers as our nation combats the coronavirus pandemic.
DOL Acts to Help American Workers & Employers During the Coronavirus Pandemic
U.S. Department of Labor: Quick BENEFITS TIPS from DOL
In general, applies to you if you are an employee of either a private employer with fewer than 500 employees or a covered public sector employer.
Quick BENEFITS TIPS "How much paid leave can employees take?"
U.S. Department of Labor
The U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is committed to helping employers understand and comply with federal wage and hour laws. Toolkits contain interactive step-by-step tools to walk employers through a variety of scenarios, in-depth guides to help employers navigate the requirements of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and fact sheets that detail how the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) applies to many specific types of employment.
Compliance Assistance Toolkits
SC Department of Commerce: Share COVID-19 Resources: GoFundMe and SalesForce Small Business GRANTS (4/28/2020)
The GoFundMe Small Business Relief Initiative is intended to support our local businesses facing financial loss. Make a difference today by donating or starting a fundraiser.
GoFundMe: Small Business Relief
Must be For-Profit with annual revenue of $250K - 2M and 2-50 employees -- more....
Salesforce Small Business Grants (EAST)
A Resilient Columbia: Economic Sustainability Plan - Small Business Stabilization Forgivable (SBSF) Loan Program Update
The City of Columbia recognizes the tremendous needs of our small business community during this unprecedented crisis. On March 20th, City leadership approved $1,000,000 for the establishment of the Small Business Stabilization Forgivable Loan Program (SBSF) in an effort to provide immediate financial assistance to our small business community in response to COVID-19. To date, this funding has been awarded to 220 small businesses located within the corporate limits of the City of Columbia.
On April 21st, Columbia City Council approved an additional $400,000 to be awarded to completed approved applications that have already been submitted but were not funded during the initial phase of the program due to limited funding. These funds will be awarded between April 23rd and May 1st.
New applications are not currently being accepted for the SBSF program. If additional funding is received for the SBSF program, the application process will be re-opened.
SC Chamber of Commerce and SC Department of Commerce
In order to provide the Governor's accelerateSC Task Force with the most urgent needs of industries, SC Chamber of Commerce and SC Department of Commerce have developed a survey to assess the needs of businesses in our state. To participate in this survey, please click here.
SC Department of Commerce COVID-19 Resources
SC Department of Employment and Workforce
Self-employed and gig workers are eligible for unemployment benefits under the CARES Act. To read this information, click here to read the press release from SC DEW.
Unemployment Benefits Flyer
SC DEW Website
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance FAQ's
A Resilient Columbia - Economic Stabilization Non Profit Program - NOW TAKING APPLICATIONS
The project period is for 6 months and organizations may request up to $10,000.
|Resilient Columbia - Business Reopen Survey|
|CITY OF COLUMBIA OBO COVID-19 SMALL BUSINESS SURVEY|
|OBO's "QUICK LIST" of available COVID-19 Relief Funds and Efforts|
|COVID-19 Relief Funds and Efforts|
CITY OF COLUMBIA BUSINESS LICENSE OFFICE: Taking Phone Calls
The deadline for Business License renewal has been extended from April 15, 2020 to May 15, 2020. Hospitality Tax and Tourism Development penalties have been waived until June 2020.
Business License Office Website
Important Information from the City of Columbia Business License Division
Phone: 803-545-3345 | Fax: 803-988-8025
Office Hours: Mon-Fri - 8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.
ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL RESOURCES
Wateree Community Actions, Inc.
Wateree Community Actions, Inc. is offering assistance to individuals or families who are at risk of losing housing, live in unsafe or unaffordable housing or who are homeless due to COVID-19. To read more click here to go to their website or click on the link below for additional information and application.
Wateree Community Actions Application
The Tory Burch Foundation: Embracing Women Entrepreneurs
The Tory Burch Foundation has a website dedicated to providing resources and information for female entrepreneurs. To view this website, click here.
SPANX and The SPANX by Sara Blakely Foundation & GlobalGiving: The Red Backpack Fund
SPANX and The SPANX by Sara Blakely Foundation teamed up with GlobalGiving to create The Red Backpack Fund to assist female entrepreneurs in the United States to help alleviate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.
The Red Backpack Fund Website
Richland County COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Program
Richland County Government will make $1,000,000 in financial support available to small businesses and nonprofits through a grant program. The COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Grant Program will allocate $500,000 for small businesses affected by the economic downturn and $500,000 for nonprofits addressing community needs, such as food insecurity amongst LMI populations, rent and utility assistance. For more information, please click here to go to the Richland County Government website.
Richland County COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Program Press Release
Richland County COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Program Flyer
Artist Relief will distribute $5,000 grants to artists facing dire financial emergencies due to COVID-19; serve as an ongoing informational resource; and co-launch the COVID-19 Impact Survey for Artists and Creative Workers, designed by Americans for the Arts, to better identify and address the needs of artists. To support artists during the COVID-19 crisis, a coalition of national arts grant-makers have come together to create this emergency initiative to offer financial and informational resources to artists across the United States.
Artist Relief Grant Application (APPLICATION)
COVID-19 Impact Survey for Artists and Creative Workers (SURVEY)
Americans for the Arts (About)
Artist Relief (About)
Goldman Sachs Commits $300 Million to Support Communities and Small Business
Goldman Sachs has committed to delivering $300 million across two separate initiatives to help small businesses and communities around the world: Global Small Business Stimulus Package: A $275 million commitment to provide funding and lending to small businesses during this time of stress. $250 million to provide emergency loans to small businesses & $25 million in grants to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and other mission-driven lenders; and Goldman Sachs COVID-19 Relief Fund: A $25 million commitment through Goldman Sachs Gives to support healthcare organizations, frontline responders, and the hardest-hit communities. To further encourage giving toward relief efforts, we’ve also established a special matching gift program for our people, up to a total of $5 million.
Goldman Sachs: Small Business Stimulus & COVID-19 Relief Fund
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): The NIH is deeply concerned for the health and safety of people involved in NIH research, and about the effects on the biomedical enterprise in the areas affected by the HHS declared public health emergency for COVID-19. Due to the potential exceptional impact, we want to assure our recipient community that NIH will be doing our part to help you continue your research.
Information for NIH Applicants and Recipients of NIH Funding
Richland County Public Library (RCPL)
Small and local businesses are working through COVID19 with creativity. There are ways you can help, and your RCPL has put together a list of assistance and resources available for small business owners.
Support for Small Businesses
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation: A guide to helping small businesses navigate and recover from the COVID-19 crisis
April 2, 2020: The Small Business Administration’s disaster relief program is the vanguard of government assistance for businesses during this crisis. Here are some resources in response to common questions entrepreneurs will be asking about the process.
Guide to Helping Small Businesses Navigate and recover from the COVID-19 Crisis
SC Small Business Chamber of Commerce: Applications for Small Business PPP Loans Start Friday, April 3rd
April 1, 2020: Late yesterday afternoon the U.S. Department of Treasury released instructions for loans under the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) in the CARES Act that went into effect this past Friday. “Starting April 3, 2020, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply. Starting April 10, 2020, independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply. We encourage you to apply as quickly as you can because there is a funding cap,” as indicated in the instructions.
Application Information for Small Business PPP Starting Friday, April 3
US CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: CORONAVIRUS EMERGENCY LOANS
Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act: Updated 3/31/20
U.S. Chamber of Commerce has issued this new guide to help small businesses and self-employed individuals prepare to file for a loan.
Small Business Guide and Checklist
New resources available for small businesses, as well as certain nonprofits and other employers. The Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act link below provides information about the major programs and initiatives available from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to address these needs, as well as some additional tax provisions that are outside the scope of SBA.
Small Business Owner's Guide to the CARES Act
Seven Companies Offering COVID-19 Relief Funds for Diverse Business Owners
Article: Forbes Magazine - Janice Gassam, Senior Contributor
Seven Companies Offering COVID-19 Relief Funds for Diverse Business Owners
Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) Information for Women-Owned Businesses
Resources for Women-Owned Businesses in Response to COVID-19
|City of Columbia, SC: Stay-At-Home Ordinance - - Effective 12:01 am Sunday, 3/29/2020|
Columbia City Council passed a stay-at-home ordinance Thursday afternoon, 3/26/20, in an attempt to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. It means all non-essential businesses in Columbia are ordered to close for two weeks, and residents have to stay at home unless they are walking outside, or going to work or shop at an essential business.
Stay-At-Home Ordinance FAQs
ROTH LAW FIRM: DETAILED SUMMARY Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “Act”); 3/28/20
The Act includes loans and other disbursements for individuals and small businesses, support for health care providers, and measures to stabilize severely distressed sectors of the economy.
Detailed Summary: Coronavirus Aid, Relief, & Economic Security Act
U.S. Department of the Treasury, IRS and the U.S. Department of Labor Announce Plan to Implement Coronavirus-Related Paid Leave for Workers and Tax Credits for Small and Midsize Businesses to Swiftly Recover the Cost of Providing Coronavirus-Related Leave
News Release: Coronavirus-Related Paid Leave for Workers and Tax Credits for Small & Midsize Businesses
The Wage and Hour Division provides information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to COVID-19, and its effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
COVID-19 and the Workplace
"U.S. Department of Labor Announces Availability of Up to $100 Million In National Health Emergency Dislocated Worker Grants in "Response to COVID-19 Outbreak"
National Health Emergency Dislocated Worker Grants
US CONGRESS: FAMILIES FIRST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT
This Act, signed into law on March 18, 2020, contains the following:
> Emergency Paid Sick Leave & Emergency Family Medical Leave (What this Bill Does - Fact Sheet)
> Coverage for COVID-19 Testing
> Expansion of Unemployment Benefits
H.R. 6201, FAMILIES FIRST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT
RESPONDING TO THE CORONAVIRUS
Center for Disease Control
COVID-19 Cases in US: Statistics, News & Updates (4/6/2020)
Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers
Information Provided by the City of Columbia
Preventative Measures for Coronavirus & Flu
SC Department of Commerce
Covid-19 Business Resource Center
SC Small Business Chamber of Commerce
Covid-19 Impact on Small Business: UPDATE and INFORMATION
Richland County Public Library: Support for Small Business
Covid-19: Resources for Small Businesses
MORE INFORMATION AS AVAILABLE, PLEASE CHECK BACK.
OBO - Ready to discover your next opportunity?
Need an Opportunity to Start or Grow your Small Business
Small businesses drive the U.S. economy by providing jobs for over half of the nation’s private workforce. Yet small businesses also face many obstacles that stall or prevent their growth and development, including access to capital, effective marketing strategies, adequate accounting systems, and comprehensive business plans.
An opportunity is a chance for advancement and progress. The Office of Business “Opportunities” uses several economic development tools to provide creative business opportunities to address many of the obstacles that face small businesses.
How We Do It…
The Office of Business Opportunities has three divisions that are designed to help meet the needs of small, minority and women owned businesses in the City of Columbia: (1) commercial lending; (2) technical assistance, education and advocacy; and (3) contractor and supplier diversity.
The City invests dollars to do economic development in disadvantaged areas and corridors that are not generally thriving through normal operations of private market activity. Our commercial lending program is designed to promote new investment in business growth and job creation.
In addition to traditional commercial loans, the City has a Commercial Retention & Redevelopment Program (CRR). The purpose of this program is to help merchants improve the look of their individual buildings, while improving the overall aesthetic quality of our commercial corridors and business districts.
Technical Assistance, Education & Advocacy:
OBO, both directly and through its partner network, offers a broad range of programs and services to help businesses maintain their competitive edge. These programs and services include:
• Creating Your Business Plan
• Development of Marketing Strategies
• Website Development
• Market Research
• Expansion Strategies
• Social Media Training
Contractor and Supplier Diversity:
It is the policy of the City of Columbia to promote and encourage contracting and supplier opportunities for small, minority and women owned business enterprises (SMWBEs), which have traditionally been underutilized in City Contracts. The City of Columbia has developed a Mentor Protégé Program, Local Business Enterprise Preference and Subcontractor Outreach Program to provide meaningful project opportunities for these businesses.
The OBO is charged with recruiting SMWBEs and building their capacity so that they competitively bid on city opportunities.
Contractors, Small & Minority-owned Business Opportunities
CDBE Application Form and Current CDBE & DBE Directories:
OBO is waiting to hear from you: 803.545.3950 or [email protected]