States scramble to find footing with budgets stressed by pandemic

After finally beginning to find their footing following the Great Recession of 2008 and having built up their state rainy day funds, states are now finding that it’s not just raining — they are facing a tsunami. With their two main sources of revenue, the income tax and sales tax, both seriously impacted by the historic levels of unemployment claims and shuttered businesses, states are just beginning to try to manage a budgetary storm that could have lasting impacts on their economies. And while some lessons from the most recent recession may help in their recovery, the continuing unknowns from the pandemic will be difficult to measure.

A platform to support science and entrepreneurship through the pandemic and beyond

SSTI’s Innovation Advocacy Council has sent letters to congressional leadership outlining emergency actions needed to support tech- and innovation-driven businesses and recovery-focused programs to leverage American ingenuity for economic stimulus. The letters call for expanding SBA’s technical assistance to startups, leveraging EDA’s Build to Scale program, catalyzing new programs for equity investment and commercialization, and incorporating innovation into any infrastructure initiative.

Pandemic wreaking havoc on higher ed

Last week,  U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that more than $6 billion of the roughly $14 billion in funding for higher education through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act would be made available to colleges and universities to provide direct emergency cash grants to college students whose lives and educations have been disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak. Those disruptions reflect just a piece of the larger upheaval the coronavirus has inflicted on the entire higher education community. Institutions across the country are wrestling with ways to stem the damage from the pandemic, from easing admission standards and furloughing employees to delaying a return to campuses and possibly even closures. And some are saying that the funds that have been provided, just a fraction of the $50 billion the higher education community had sought, won’t be nearly enough.

New technology framework facilitates access to innovations in fight against COVID-19

A new set of technology transfer strategies designed to incentivize rapid utilization of available technologies that may be useful for preventing, diagnosing and treating COVID-19 infection during the pandemic has been established by a group including Stanford and Harvard universities and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The licensing strategies are meant to facilitate rapid global access of available technologies to help fight the pandemic. The patenting and licensing strategies include rapidly executable, non-exclusive royalty-free licenses to intellectual property rights that the signatories have the right to license, for the purpose of making and distributing products to prevent, diagnose and treat COVID-19 infection during the pandemic and for a short period thereafter. 

USDA unveils tool for rural communities fighting COVID-19

The U.S. Department of Agriculture unveiled a one-stop-shop of federal programs that can be used by rural communities impacted by COVID-19. The resource guide lists programs that can be used to provide immediate and long-term assistance in support of recovery efforts for rural residents, businesses and communities through:

St. Louis Fed research shows links between financial distress and vulnerability to COVID-19, offers guidance on fiscal policy

Early-stage research from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis examines the correlations between an area’s level of financial distress and its vulnerability to both the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fed’s initial findings indicate that areas with low levels of financial distress were infected with the coronavirus and reached the point of exponential growth in new infections before areas experiencing greater levels of financial distress, while the rate of new infections is higher in more distressed areas. It also finds that a greater share of workers from areas of higher distress work in industries that are more vulnerable to the economic shocks caused by the virus than workers from areas of lower financial distress.

States dealt blow with pandemic

In general, the effect of the pandemic on states’ budgets due to the wave of business, retail, and commerce shutdowns, as well as other reduced economic activity across the nation, is not entirely known, or too early to forecast; however, a number of states are beginning to experience the initial impacts of a substantial downturn. With several states having already enacted their 2020-21 budgets, special sessions are expected later this year to deal with declining revenues. Others ended sessions early without a new fiscal year spending plan in place. Many are also acting quickly to help mitigate the effects of lost revenues and an increased demand for services. Some of the states’ impacts and actions are outlined below.

COVID-19 Emergency Response Resources & Information

With the unprecedented devastation being caused by COVID-19, SSTI has assembled a resource page for organizations, small businesses, universities and others. The page contains links to federal, state, and other programs providing guidance on the both the latest stimulus package and other sources of aid.

We will also be updating and reorganizing this list, and we encourage you to reach out to us at if you know of a program or resource that should be included here or have suggestions to improve usability.

Access the resource page here.

Resources for small business in dealing with COVID-19

The fallout from COVID-19 is growing as unemployment numbers skyrocket, small businesses are faced with closures, and employers try to protect both their business and employees. A just-released national study conducted by America’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) and Thryv Inc.,  found that 69 percent of U.S. small businesses have already experienced a large drop in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic and 60 percent believe demand will continue to decline. States, too, have seen their budget situations take a dramatic turn and universities have had to send students home. Below you will find some of the resources available to businesses and universities in dealing with COVID-19 pressures, as well as new funding opportunities from federal agencies for those seeking assistance. For more information on how states are responding, several organizations are posting daily updates and are referenced below. 

The resources listed are divided into help for small businesses, updates on states' reactions, and federal resources. Please click through on the read more link for a brief synopsis of each resource followed by more information below the bulleted list. 

OMB provides guidance on flexibility for federal grant funding

Just days after the first reported US death from COVID-19, federal grant recipients capable of performing essential research and services related to COVID-19 were provided with additional flexibilities to the terms of their contracts and supplied with additional administrative resources to pivot their efforts towards combatting the virus. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to grow and disrupt all sectors of the economy, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has now issued guidance to the heads of all federal grant-making agencies, offering short-term emergency flexibilities and administrative relief.


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