Updated March 24, 2020.
COVID-19 has reached pandemic levels, and as the country responds to manage exposure, small businesses and the wedding industry are being hit particularly hard. A double-whammy for marriage officiants. This article is one of several JPus is posting to support our members during these difficult times.
Wedding officiants are typically sole proprietors, which are a type of a small business. They are reliant upon themselves and their network to advertise their services, connect with potential clients, and close the deal. As such, officiants are sensitive to fluctuations in the market, and vulnerable if there is a catastrophic event. With the coronavirus pandemic, we don’t know for how long we’ll be encouraged to stay home. Social gatherings discouraged. Or social distancing encouraged. In light of this, the wedding industry is already seeing signs of trouble. In case the ramifications hit home, we are developing financial resources to support our members.
- Check with your state’s Unemployment Offices. Rules are changing daily to extend benefits to sole proprietors and other self-employed people who are experiencing a financial hit from this crisis. This Department of Labor link, and has a list of state-by-state resources for unemployment benefits.
- The Fed dropped interest rates to 0-0.25%. If you need assistance, identifying banks to work with and tap into your state’s Department of Revenue to identify which private lenders offer free or low-interest loans for small businesses affected by the coronavirus.
- Loan and bill deferment options are available. Ask your lender or utility provider to see if you qualify.
Small Business Administration
Through its disaster relief program, the US government’s Small Business Association (SBA) will offer 3.75% low-interest loans to small businesses that sustained substantial economic injury because of the coronavirus. These links provide more information to facilitate an application.
- SBA’s coronavirus information page
- Get ready, by completing the forms needed to apply for assistance. See them under SBA Disaster Business Loan Application (paper forms). Note that information needed includes a profit and loss statement, and tax forms for the three previous years.
- Apply for SBA assistance
- For more information, you can contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center at 1-800-659-2955 or email@example.com.
Grants and Subsidies for Small Businesses
Your local town/city government’s Community Development offices may have a list of grants or subsidies available for businesses affected by the coronavirus. Ask the larger corporations in your community for any grants they are offering to support the smaller local businesses that make up the backbone of a community. As we identify specific grants and subsidies, we’ll list them here. If you have some that we should include on our list, please tell us.
- Connecticut: Hartford Foundation’s Greater Hartford COVID-19 Response Fund
- Florida: Bridge loan program
- Massachusetts: Small business recovery loan fund, administered by the Massachusetts Growth Capital Fund
Social Security payments will continue to be made to beneficiaries, but offices will be closed to the public. Agents will work from home, and routine services will be provided by phone (800) 772-1213, and through its website.
Reinstatement of benefits will be handled in-person, if there are dire circumstances: People with severe disabilities, blindness or terminal illness; people needing eligibility decisions for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid eligibility related to work status
Also, know that the Justice of the Peace Association is advocating on behalf of wedding officiants. We want to make sure that as protocols are established to manage our safety, that there is also an awareness to sole proprietors. In particular, we are advocating for government leaders to include the wedding industry in its list of those requiring special attention.
JPus will update this information as additional resources become available.
- More officiant related support on JPus’ COVID-19 landing page
- Be a part of the coronavirus-management conversation with fellow officiants in JPus’ members-only Facebook group
- Follow JPus’ Facebook page for related news and updates
- Additional professional development articles in Member Support
- More education and training for marriage officiants