Volunteers Help Utah Businesses Navigate Federal Resources to Mitigate COVID-19

April 23, 2020

The flood of new programs and resources from D.C. are critical for small business owners to understand, but with the volume and number of changes, that is easier said than done. One volunteer organization in Utah is making a difference for those who need financial assistance to keep their businesses and pay their employees.

Utah’s Rapid Response Team (RRT), has been fulfilling the goal of the state’s Economic Response Task Force to level the economic dip caused by COVID-19. By increasing bandwidth on the front lines, the team helps business owners find answers about the critical programs being rolled out from the CARES Act.

The RRT, which is organized by World Trade Center Utah, includes professionals working across multiple sectors and ranging from Gen Z to Baby Boomers. In a perfect example of the collaborative spirit that is alive and well in Utah, the Rapid Response Team has grown to 50+ volunteers from ~15 organizations. At the end of its first full week in operation, the team has assisted 1,200 Utah businesses with cases requiring multiple engagements by a team member as they solve problems and provide solutions, not just pass along information. Each team member dedicates 10-15 hours a week to answer requests for help, sometimes from the businesses they were visiting just weeks ago that now might not be able to survive.

By the luck of the draw, one volunteer responded to an inquiry from a salon she used to frequent. “It broke my heart,” she said, “I emailed her and she responded immediately and was so grateful. I was crying at my desk yesterday as I continued working on cases.”

According to JP Morgan Chase, most small businesses only hold enough cash reserves to keep their business going about 27 days. For these Utahns, every minute counts and many feel they are on the brink.

A local daycare center, which was facing thousands in debt after losing both its customers and employees, had shut down seemingly overnight. “When the owner learned what financial assistance she was eligible for, she was so grateful and began to cry,” shared an RRT volunteer. “On my end, I was fighting back tears and was trying to be professional. It was so amazing to be in the position to support her and to know that her business could be saved.”

These volunteers are working nights and weekends to answer requests. Despite the long hours, the volunteers share a similar sentiment, “we are making a huge difference and it is an honor to be able to volunteer for this program.” Since formation, the RRT has answered 1,600 inquires and most businesses get a response within one business day.  

If you know a business owner in need of help, please help them reach out to the Rapid Response Team by visiting coronavirus.utah.gov/business and clicking “Submit Help Request.” One of our fantastic volunteers will respond right away.