Help for Iowa Small Businesses & Nonprofits
Ways YOU can Support Iowa Small Businesses
Many small businesses and nonprofits in Iowa are still feeling the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic. Iowa has taken a few steps to provide some relief:
Help for Nonprofits
Iowa nonprofits who have been impacted by COVID-19 can apply for a grant through the Iowa Nonprofit Recovery Fund. Eligible nonprofits can receive a grant up to $25,000. Eligible organizations include 501(c)(3), 501(c)(6), and 501(c)(19) nonprofit organizations with 25 or few employees that serve priority populations. Applications will be accepted by the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) until August 14th or until funds have been exhausted. For more information and to apply visit, https://www.iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/Business/nonprofit-recovery.
Small Business Utility Assistance
IEDA is still accepting applications for the Small Business Utility Disruption Prevention Program. Iowa small businesses and nonprofits who have experienced a loss in revenue due to COVID-19 from March 17th to June 30th and have unpaid utility bills may be eligible for a grant to help pay those bills. Applications are being approved on a rolling basis until August 21st. For more information on eligibility requirements and to apply visit, https://www.iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/Business/energy-recovery
Shop Small Iowa
Retail small businesses in Iowa now have another way to promote their businesses online. IEDA has launched Shop Iowa, a website aimed at giving small retailers an online profile. Customers can go to https://www.shopiowa.com/ to buy products from businesses all over the state. Products can be purchased directly from the website and more information for each store is available. Business who would like products sold on Shop Iowa can visit, https://www.shopiowa.com/sell/
There are many ways Iowans can support small businesses during this time including:
- Shop local online
- Order takeout from local restaurants
- Or buy gift cards for attractions, restaurants, breweries, and much more at https://explore.traveliowa.com/checkout/311/travel-iowa/1644/travel-iowa-gift-card-marketplace
How Does Iowa’s COVID Response Compare to the Rest of the Country?
Iowa is one of the few states to limit online learning for the upcoming school year in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Iowa is the only state in the nation to force a requirement that 50.1% of the instruction be taught in-person as directed by Governor Reynolds.
The Governor’s in-person instruction requirement can only be waived if there is a local outbreak with a 15% rate of infection and 10% student absenteeism. By comparison, Minnesota requires in-person instruction if a county has just .09% COVID-19 cases.
Over the last month, many parents, school leaders, teachers, and students have expressed concern over the Governor’s new in-person requirements. Many Iowans believe the decision to hold in-person, on-line, or a hybrid option are best left to local school officials.
Check to see where an Iowa county is over the last 14-week period: https://coronavirus.iowa.gov/pages/percent-school-district-positive-analysis
Masks not Required, No Local Control
In addition, Iowa does not have a statewide mask mandate nor does it allow local governments to decide.
This week at a news conference, the Governor was asked about efforts in Muscatine, Iowa City and Johnson County, for example, to have a local mask mandate. “We do not believe, during a public health emergency, that local governments have the ability to supersede what has been put in place on a statewide.”
Despite that many school districts have stepped up and will require masks when school starts, some for all schools, some just for middle school and high school. Many businesses already require masks to enter.
The CDC still recommends wearing a face covering whenever possible in public places including schools, stores, and in restaurants and bars when not eating or drinking.
Fall High School Sports are Full Steam Ahead
The boys the Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union (IGHSAU) have released guidance to allow fall high school sports in Iowa. Schools that intend to play football this season must inform the IHSAA by Aug. 17. The regular season will run for seven weeks, from Aug. 27 to Oct. 9, followed by a postseason from Oct. 16 to Nov. 20. It is a six-week, single elimination tournament.
Football will have mandatory two-minute timeouts every four minutes to enforce sanitizing and hydration protocols. In addition, spitting will be prohibited for the 2020 football season and water is not to be used for any purpose besides drinking. The IHSAA recommends bringing a new football into play every fourth down.
Cross country matches for both boys and girls are to consider using staggered starts instead of a mass start. Volleyball will eliminate spectator seating in the first two rows if possible, avoid simultaneous side-by-side courts if possible, rotate three balls for sanitizing, and teams are not to switch benches between sets.
All boys’ or girls’ sports will eliminate pregame or post game handshakes. Masks are permissible in all fall sports, but not required.
The complete girls fall sports guidance can be found here. The complete boys fall sports guidance can be found here.
Iowa Students Encouraged to Apply to be Legislative Pages
The Iowa Legislature is looking for high school students to learn more about the legislative process by applying to serve as a Legislative Page in the Iowa House of Representatives for the 2021 legislative session.
Legislative Pages provide invaluable assistance to representatives and staff by running errands, delivering messages, and distributing bills and amendments. Pages will work with staff and representatives in the Iowa State Capitol building.
The Iowa House Chief Clerk’s office will be accepting applications until Friday, October 9, 2020. Guidelines to the program include:
- Must be 16 years of age by January 11, 2021
- Uniforms are provided
- Living arrangements are unsupervised and must be found on their own
- Students are responsible for transportation to and from the State Capitol
- This is a paid position and excused absences are permitted
- Students are expected to be able to handle any school responsibilities
- Parental permission is required to participate in this program
For more details on the page program and how to apply go to, https://www.legis.iowa.gov/careers.
Cities and Counties in Iowa to Receive CARES Act Funds
Iowa’s local cities and counties will see $125 million in extra funds to help with serious economic challenges, with 60% of those funds going to Iowa cities and 40% going to counties. The monies, allocated by Governor Kim Reynold, can be used for PPE, sanitizing products, medical supplies and equipment or emergency staffing dedicated to the COVID-19 health emergency.
Iowa Homeland Security will use $25 million to pay for the local share of FEMA projects. The state will hire a third-party vendor to accept applications which will be made available by mid-August.
Other Iowa News
IOWA PERMANENTLY ALLOWS ALCOHOL TO-GO: At a time when restaurants and bars were shut down for in-person consumption, the state of Iowa eased some regulations, including the sale of alcohol to-go as a way to help keep the economy going. More than 30 states and Washington D.C. eased restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the closing days of the legislative session the legislature decided to make this change permanent and became the first state in the nation to allow carry-out and delivery of cocktails and mixed drinks. According to the Distilled Spirits Council, many other states are considering making these changes permanent. The changes will allow bars and restaurants to be creative in their menu offerings and for Iowans to continue to enjoy their favorite beverage at home while the virus continues to spread out of control in Iowa.
COVID-19 RENT AND MORTGAGE ASSISTANCE: Iowans who are behind in rent or mortgage payments may be eligible for the Iowa Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Program. The program has been expanded to include people who were receiving the extra $600 a week in unemployment benefits. People who were previously denied for the program are encouraged to apply. Iowans can receive up to four months of rent, a maximum of $3,200, or two months of mortgage assistance, a maximum of $3,000. For more information visit: https://www.iowafinance.com/covid-19-iowa-eviction-and-foreclosure-prevention-program/
DEFECTIVE FACE MASK WARNING: This week, the Iowa Attorney General’s office warned businesses and consumers to avoid certain types of face masks, which may be sold using deceptive claims and provide inadequate protection from COVID-19.The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing cloth face coverings to prevent transmission. However, they have also warned about counterfeit sales and respirators not meeting U.S. safety standards. The Attorney General issued a consumer alert after his office noticed retail stores and online sites are selling masks that do not meet performance standards and are a potential safety risk for Iowa healthcare workers. Prior to purchasing masks from suppliers, retailers should practice due diligence to ensure they’re buying a safe, quality product. Consumers who want to file a complaint should contact the Consumer Protection Division at (515) 281-5926 or by email at email@example.com.
EXTREME DROUGHT HITS PORTIONS OF IOWA: After an unusually dry and hot July, an area of extreme drought has appeared in the state. While nearly 80 percent of the state is in some level of drought, about 6 percent of the state is in extreme drought. The area of extreme drought covers portions of Audubon, Carroll, Greene, and Guthrie Counties. Shallow groundwater resources are deteriorating in several areas around the state as well. Stream flows are generally normal, but there are areas that are below normal. A complete review of Iowa’s water resources and trends can be found at www.iowadnr.gov/watersummaryupdate.
CHILDHOOD VACCINATION CAMPAIGN: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and changes to routine health care, there has been a 55.5% decrease in non-influenza vaccinations for children ages 4-18 during March and April of this year compared to the same time in 2019. Due to this decline, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) is promoting the importance of childhood vaccinations. Up-to-date vaccinations are a requirement for school entry, so parents should check with their child’s health care provider to make sure they have the required vaccinations. To view more information about childhood vaccinations, please visit: https://idph.iowa.gov/immtb/immunization/laws?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery