Boone County lawmakers highlight resources available to Hoosier workers, employers impacted by COVID-19

Posted by: Courtney Heiden  | Friday, April 3, 2020

STATEHOUSE (April 3, 2020) – Boone County lawmakers encourage Hoosier workers and small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic to access recently expanded state and federal resources for help.

Under Indiana's temporary "stay-at-home" order, State Reps. Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville), Donna Schaibley (R-Carmel) and Jeff Thompson (R-Lizton) said many businesses deemed not essential have laid off staff or cannot pay employees while they are shut down. To help, Gov. Eric Holcomb expanded unemployment coverage to those impacted, including Hoosiers whose work hours were reduced, those under medical quarantine and employees who cannot continue to work because of lack of child care options.

"This health emergency called for swift action by state officials to expand resources and services to the thousands of impacted Hoosiers," Brown said. "While we never wanted a crisis to occur, we do have safety nets in place and some flexibility with our finances so that we can continue to make adjustments in order to meet the needs of local communities."

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development said Hoosiers should file for unemployment insurance if their employment has been interrupted or ended due to COVID-19, and their claim will be evaluated. Individuals must apply for UI benefits online, using a computer or smart phone at Unemployment.IN.gov. For questions, the state asks Hoosiers to review the Frequently Asked Questions, the Claimant Handbook or the online video tutorials before calling the 1-800-891-6499 helpline, which continues to experience a high volume of calls.   

Indiana waived the one-week waiting period for payment of unemployment benefits, and it is retroactive to March 8, 2020. Qualified claimants can typically receive benefits for up to 26 weeks, but this has been extended by an additional 13 weeks. Schaibley said due to the action of the federal government, unemployed workers who file and are approved will see an extra $600 per week for four months.

"Our state has taken many critical steps to cut red tape to ensure more Hoosiers can navigate this unexpected and unprecedented public health crisis," Schaibley said. "As we have seen the number of unemployment claims skyrocket over the past couple of weeks, we know this is a devastating hit to families and businesses across the state. Indiana is taking an all-hands-on-deck approach to offer help and resources to all of those impacted as we weather this storm."

Thompson said small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and nonprofits can receive up to $2 million in low-interest loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration's Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses, which could have been met had the disaster not occurred. The loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that cannot be paid because of the disaster's impact. The loan interest rates for small businesses and nonprofits are 3.75% and 2.75%, respectively, with terms up to 30 years. 

"Many businesses are feeling the effects of this public health crisis from an economic standpoint," Thompson said. "Providing any support we can is crucial to ensure they can resume employing Hoosiers and contributing goods and services once this pandemic is mitigated."

Businesses' merit rate/tax rate will not be impacted if they lay off employees due to the coronavirus.

For more information and to apply for a small business loan, visit SBA.gov/disaster. Hoosiers can also contact 1-800-659-2955 or disastercustomerservice@sba.gov with additional questions.

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State Rep. Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville) represents House District 41,
which includes portions of Boone, Montgomery and Tippecanoe counties.
Click here to download a high-resolution photo.

State Rep. Donna Schaibley (R-Carmel) represents House District 24,
which includes portions of Boone and Hamilton counties.
Click here to download a high-resolution photo.

State Rep. Jeff Thompson (R-Lizton) represents House District 28,
which includes portions of Hendricks and Boone counties.
Click here to download a high-resolution photo.