COVID-19 Businesses Resources
Applications now open for Preserve the Fort small business grants
The City of Fort Worth is partnering with the United Way of Tarrant County to distribute $10 million of CARES Act funds to Fort Worth businesses through the Preserve the Fort grant program.
Applications are open now, and will close at 11:59 p.m. Monday, June 8.
Last updated May 12, 2020
The City of Fort Worth is continuing to monitor and assess the impact to the business community from the COVID-19 pandemic. It is critical that Fort Worth's business community take all necessary steps to help the city reduce the spread of COVID-19.
In addition, there are a number of resources being pulled together at the local, state and federal levels to assist business owners during these challenging times.
Fort Worth Adopts COVID-19 Disaster Declaration to Align with Governor's Orders
On April 29, City Council adopted a Resolution of Public Health Emergency adopting the provisions of Executive Orders issued by Governor Abbott to align with the governor’s Open Texas Plan.
The Resolution will continue Fort Worth's state of disaster past April 30, 2020.
Per the GA-18, every person in Texas shall, except where necessary to provide or obtain essential services or reopened services, minimize social gatherings and minimize in-person contact with people who are not in the same household.
Phase I of the governor’s Open Texas Plan began Friday, May 1; Expanded Phase I begins Friday, May 8.
- Essential businesses and services, as defined by CISA 3.0, or a subsequent version, will remain open but must enforce social distancing.
- Services that are allowed to reopen to the public under specific health and safety conditions in Phase I include (Health and safety checklists for businesses, employees and customers are available at gov.texas.gov/opentexas):
- Certain restaurants, theaters, retail services, and malls with no more than 25% occupancy
- Licensed health care professionals, such as doctors and dentists
- Services provided by an individual working alone in an office
- Museums with no more than 25% occupancy
- Bars, interactive amusement venues such as bowling alleys and video arcades, massage establishments, tattoo studios, piercing studios, are not reopened, except that beginning on May 8 they may provide other services already permitted (such as restaurant or retail) but no other services.
- Religious services, regardless of religion, should be conducted in accordance with the Revised Guidelines for Houses of Worship During the COVID-19 Crisis, as promulgated by the attorney general and governor issued April 21, 2020, as may be amended. However, based on substantial community spread of the virus, it is strongly recommended that religious services continue to be provided remotely, including outdoor drive-up services where individuals remain in their vehicles.
- Beginning May 8, the following may open:
- Cosmetology salons, hair salons, barber shops, tanning salons, and nail salons, must ensure at least six feet of social distancing between operating work stations
- Swimming pools with no more than 25% occupancy
- Wedding venues and services required to conduct weddings and wedding receptions, provided the facilities are at 25% occupancy and follow other required guidelines
- Beginning May 18, the following may open:
- Services provided by office workers, up to the greater of 5 workers or 25% of total workforce
- Manufacturing, up to 25% of total facility occupancy
- Gyms and exercise facilities and classes, up to 25% occupancy; lockers and showers remain closed
- Any person, firm, corporation, agent or employee thereof who violates any of the provisions of this resolution commits an offense that is considered a class C misdemeanor and each day the violation continues shall be a separate offense punishable by a fine of not more than $500.
Reopening your business
Protect the Fort: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for small businesses
With thanks to our local Facebook Data Center, Fort Worth's business partners are coming together to provide a PPE drive-up. For more information, or to register your business for supplies/join the waitlist, visit the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce webpage. (Businesses do not need to be a member of the Chamber of Commerce to receive supplies).
Reopening reminders and safety notices
- Your building's water could be unsafe from prolonged shutdown. Standing water in pipes can pick up lead and copper, develop an odor, or become more susceptible to bacteria over time. Flush the building's ENTIRE system - every indoor and outdoor hot/cold water faucet, shower head, or appliance that uses water (dishwashers, ice makers, toilets, hot water heaters, fountains, etc.) - by running them for an extended period of time to bring in fresh water before resuming regular use.
- Businesses that shut down will not be required to apply for or obtain a new certificate of occupancy or a new health inspection before they are allowed to reopen. As long as the business stays the same, and the owner/tenant remains the same, the business will not need a new certificate of occupancy. However, if the business' power is shut off, they may potentially need a new electrical inspection/release to get it turned back on.
- Texas Department of Planning & Protective Services provides a search for available child-care option on their website.
- Tarrant County Child Care Management Services also has a list on their site. View their updated closure list.
- The Best Place for Kids! has a Find! Child Care tool that can assist working parents employed at essential businesses during Tarrant County's response to COVID-19.
HR (Medical insurance, layoffs, etc.)
The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce has partnered with Fort Worth HR to provide tools and resources to local employers and Human Resource professionals as it pertains to their employees and COVID-19.
Shared Work Program
The Shared Work program provides Texas employers with an alternative to layoffs. Texas Workforce Commission developed this voluntary program to help employers and employees withstand slowdown in business.
Shared work allows employers to supplement their employees' lost wages (due to reduced work hours) with partial unemployment benefits, and reduce normal weekly work hours for employees in an affected unit by at least 10 percent, but not more than 40 percent. The reduction must affect at least 10 percent of the employees in that unit.
- Apply online for a Shared Work Plan (Texas Workforce Commission)
- Eligibility and reporting requirements (Texas Workforce Commission)
Additional HR resources
- OSHA: Preparing workplaces to mitigate the exposure of COVID-19(PDF). This guide walks businesses through how COVID-19 could affect workplaces, how to classify worker exposure, and how to protect workers.
Updates as of May 13, 2020.
Fort Worth Hotel Occupancy Taxes and Public Improvement District Assessments
On May 5, 2020, the City Council approved an ordinance providing hotels with the option to defer remittance of Hotel Occupancy Taxes (HOT) and Tourism Public Improvements District (TPID) Assessments. As a condition to receiving the deferral, hoteliers are required to report their gross and net room revenue (gross room revenue subject to HOT, less allowable exemptions) during the deferral periods so the city can record a receivable to track the deferred amounts in its financials.
For more information, hoteliers can visit: https://apps.fortworthtexas.gov/hoteltax/
Texas Franchise Tax
The Texas Franchise Tax Report filing date has been extended until July 15. The extension is automatic, and there's no need to file any additional forms.
For Franchise taxpayers who need an extension beyond July 15, options are available on the Texas Comptroller's webpage.
Texas Sales Tax
We have not seen any changes related to the upcoming April 20 filing deadline for Texas monthly and quarterly sales tax reports.
Texas Business Personal Property Renditions
The April 15 deadline for Texas Business Personal Property Renditions has been extended to May 15.
Texas Workforce Commission
The TWC first quarter payroll tax report filing deadline has been extended until May 15. The TWC has requested that taxpayers delay filings until after April 15 due to the high volume of traffic on their website as a result of unemployment claims.
IMPORTANT NOTE: There is not currently a time extension to file IRS form 941, due April 30.
Texas Comptroller information
The Texas Comptroller can offer assistance to businesses struggling to pay the full amount of sales taxes they collected in February, in the form of short-term payment agreements and, in most instances, waivers of penalties and interest.
Contact the Texas Comptroller's Enforcement Hotline at 800-252-8880 to learn about your options for remaining in compliance, and avoiding interest and late fees on taxes due. They also have a variety of online tools available, including tutorials and other resources for tax services.
Workforce & Unemployment
The Fort Worth Best Place for Working Parents Worker Connector Platform allows business owners to submit a short, confidential survey regarding their business' current circumstances and needs, and they can help "match" you with inter-industry workforce opportunities to help:
- Meet your emergency employment/workforce needs more quickly and efficiently.
- Maximize local workforce talent by re-deploying recently unemployed or furloughed employees into other high-demand jobs during this crisis.
- Reduce the number of unemployed workers in our community while providing a resource that business leaders can share with employees if they are forced to reduce their workforce during this time.
Right now, the U.S. government and Texas legislature have not changed any laws or rules concerning unemployment benefits during the pandemic. However, the Department of Labor gives significant flexibility to states to provide Unemployment Insurance (UI) related to COVID-19. This allows Texas Workforce Commission to waive work search requirements and the waiting week for claimants affected by COVID-19.
Rejecting an Offer for Rehire
Employees who have been furloughed and refuse a business' offer of rehire will still be eligible for unemployment benefits if they meet one of the following criteria:
- They can be considered high-risk, or care for a household member who is high risk.
- They test positive, or are required to quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure.
- They have children and there is no available childcare / schools are still closed, requiring the employee to stay home to care for them.
Note: The state has not yet determined how long this policy will be in effect. If you have questions or concerns, contact the Texas Workforce Commission.
If you are an employer whose employee rejected an offer for rehire and concerned about your Paycheck Protection Program funds, guidance is available on our Paycheck Protection Program page.
Be cautious of hiring scams
The Texas Workforce Commission cautions jobseekers regarding scams of individuals misrepresenting businesses attempting to secure sensitive, personal information through deceit and fake job opportunities. For examples common scams and more information about this topic visit their website.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
Under the CARES Act, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program expands insurance benefits to those who are self-employed, independent contractors, nonprofit employees, gig economy workers, and those ineligible for state unemployment benefits or who have exhausted their benefits. The program provides an expansion of unemployment insurance and benefits for workers if they have been fully or partially unemployed due to an inability to work as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Learn more at the Texas Workforce Commission's website, or by calling 800-939-6631.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
In addition to benefits provided by unemployment insurance and and PUA program, the CARES Act also provides for an additional $600 per week, referred to as Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, to those receiving unemployment insurance benefits or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for a period of up to four months.
Texas Unemployment Insurance
The Texas Unemployment Insurance (UI) program pays benefits to those who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Texas Workforce Commission determines benefit eligibility based on past wages, why someone lost their job, and ongoing eligibility requirements.
- Apply online for Unemployment Benefit Claim Service (Texas Workforce Solutions)
- Tutorial: How to apply for Unemployment Benefits (Texas Workforce Solutions)
- Flowcart: Howw Unemployment Insurance claims are being addressed (Texas Workforce Solutions)
- Workforce Solutions' Jobs Now Portal is being constantly updated with jobs looking to hire immediately, including Wal-Mart, Amazon, and others.
Rent - Landlords and Tenants
- The CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program forgivable funds can be used towards rent. If those funds have not arrived, or if you're unable to qualify, tenants are encouraged to talk to their landlords about setting up a payment plan, waiving late fees, etc.
- We understand that landlords have bills to pay their banks and investors, but landlords are encouraged to try and work with their tenants, avoid evictions if possible, be flexible with late fees and creative about setting up payment plans until the business' funds arrive. Talk to your banks as well, as many recognize what is going on and are working to defer payments.
- Landlords, including Sole Proprietorships, are also eligible for the EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loan) to pass down savings to tenants.
Utility expenses and other issues
Atmos Energy has temporarily suspended disconnections, to make sure both residential and commercial customers have continued access to natural gas during the COVID-19 outbreak.
TXU is waiving late fees, extending payment due dates with no down payment required, reducing down payments and deferring balances over five equal installments. TXU customers can also receive additional bill-payment assistance through its TXU Energy AidSM program.
- AT&T: On March 20, AT&T pledged that it will not terminate service to wireless, home phone or broadband, and waive any late payment fees for residential or small business customers. Learn more.
- Charter Spectrum: Starting March 14, Spectrum committed to not terminate service or charge late fees for 60 days for residential or small business customers. Learn more.
- Residents or business owners with other providers are encouraged to visit their provider's website or call them directly to find out what their policy is in regards to the COVID-10 pandemic. Talk to your provider about your options, like waiving your fees or setting up a payment plan.
Fort Worth is ensuring customers have continued access to potable water by temporarily stopping disconnections due to nonpayment. This applies to all active residential, commercial and industrial accounts.
City staff will continue to review accounts each billing cycle, water bills will continue to be sent out, late fees will continue to accrue and delinquency notifications will be sent out under the normal process. Service interruptions for nonpayment will resume at a later date.
Take the COVID-19 Business Survey
The city, Chambers of Commerce, and community leaders are all aware of the challenges facing local businesses during this time, and are working on different options to provide assistance.
To that end, all Fort Worth businesses are encouraged to complete the city's COVID-19 Business Survey to help community leaders better understand the effects that current circumstances have had on business revenue, staffing, and other resources.
Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce:
- Online business discussion forums
- Protect the Fort: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Small Businesses
- Webinar series, HR questions, business stories, and more
Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce:
Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce:
Visit Fort Worth:
- Marketing, Research and Web Tips
- Restaurant updates
- Small business resources
- Ways to support local artists
SCORE Fort Worth:
Tarrant County SBDC:
Tarrant County Workforce Solutions:
Fort Worth HR: