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Shutdown is already putting the brakes on small business activity

Some small businesses are already feeling the impact of the shutdown of the federal government, whether they want to borrow money, be paid or get information from federal agencies. A look at some of the ways companies are being affected:


The SBA is largely shut down except for its disaster relief operations. That means small business loans aren’t being processed, nor are requests by companies to be certified to participate in federal contracting programs like the 8(a) and HUBZone programs.

While visitors to are able to use the website, a notice warns, “the information on this website may not be up to date, the transactions submitted via the website may not be processed, and the agency may not be able to respond to inquiries” until funding is restored. Phone calls to the SBA’s New York offices during regular business hours Monday went unanswered.

Business owners can still apply for loans — the process begins with a bank application. Banks may even submit the applications, which will go into a queue, creating a backlog for when SBA employees return to work. How long the approval process will be delayed will depend on how long the government is shut down.


Small businesses hoping to be paid for the work they’ve done for the government will have to wait until agency employees get back to work. Not only does lack of funding mean federal workers aren’t being paid, it also means contract payments cannot be disbursed.

Companies that are currently doing work for the government might need to stop working. If they receive a “stop work” order from an agency they have a contract with, they likely won’t be paid for any work they do during the shutdown. The law firm Fisher Phillips, in a posting on its website Friday, said companies that did not receive such an order should keep on working.

Federal websites that advertise contracting opportunities are available Monday, but owners hoping to contact employees about specific opportunities, or to check on the progress of a contract or bid, are likely to have their emails or phone calls go unanswered.


The government’s online system for employers to verify the eligibility of individuals to work in the U.S. is shut down. A notice on the system’s website, , says employers aren’t able to access their accounts during the shutdown.


Any government office or agency that performs non-essential or non-emergency services is likely to be unavailable. Agencies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or National Labor Relations Board are unlikely to work on any cases. And Department of Labor divisions like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are unlikely to be carrying out investigations except in situations where employees are at risk for injury, according to Fisher Phillips.


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