Helpful COVID-19 Information/Links

Coronavirus Resource Guide for Communities and Businesses:

Message from the Director of Workforce Services, Dennis Williamson:

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has evolved into a nationally declared emergency.  In response to this pandemic, the Western Arkansas Planning & Development District is receiving information on resources that are being made available through state and federal agencies.  This information is designed to help our communities, medical facilities and/or businesses respond to the challenges of COVID-19.

Please utilize the information below as a tool and guide and feel free to contact us if you have any questions!

New Arkansas Ready For Business website has launched!

New resource for Arkansas Unemployment Insurance Benefits questions

New site and information on the Arkansas Ready for Business Grant Program


Federal Resources:

State Resources:


 The CARES Act Highlights

Arkansas Economic Development Commission   

COVID-19 Business Resources Page


Information will continue to be updated for both CDBG funds and ED funds. The plan right now is to fund grants to non-entitlement local government with which to provide economic development loans to industry, much like the regular ED program, and also fund some public assistance through General Assistance (probably like a Round 2 of General Assistance), primarily to health units, clinic, hospitals and homeless shelters, for medical and health response.


This is all currently still in the development phase. The website will continue to be updated as information and guidance becomes available.

U.S. Department of Labor- Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA)

National Dislocated Worker Grants (DWGs)

The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, declared a nationwide public health emergency as a result of confirmed cases of the coronavirus.  This federal declaration enables the Secretary of Labor to award Disaster Recovery DWGs to help address the workforce-related impacts of this public health emergency (WIOA Act Section 170(a)(1)(B)).

Below are several questions and answers that I hope will help you in your planning to address this public health emergency.

1.)    For coronavirus, what types of disaster-relief employment are allowable?  

  • Under WIOA sec. 170, disaster-relief employment is limited to one of two categories: cleanup activities or humanitarian assistance.  Under a public health emergency declaration such as the  coronavirus, the types of disaster-relief employment allowable might include:
  • Humanitarian assistance activities: WIOA’s allowance for disaster-relief employment to provide humanitarian assistance provides greatest range of potential disaster-relief employment activities for this public health emergency.  Disaster-relief employees may assist in addressing many needs created by this public health emergency and the prolonged social isolation that is necessary to curb it, such as:
    • Delivering medicine, food, or other supplies to older individuals and other individuals with respiratory conditions and other chronic medical disorders, with appropriate training and precautions.  Coronavirus infection has been the most harmful to these populations, and there may be heavy need for such services that traditional volunteer organizations cannot support alone.
    • Helping set up quarantine areas and providing assistance to quarantined individuals.
    • Organizing and coordinating recovery, quarantine, or other related activities.
    • Cleanup activities: WIOA requires that cleanup activities respond to the impacts of the disaster. While this activity is more typical for tornadoes, fires, and floods, some clean-up activities are relevant to coronavirus response. For instance, cleanup activities can include cleaning schools or sanitizing quarantine or treatment areas after their use. If research determines that coronavirus is more likely to spread under certain physical conditions, Disaster Recovery DWG funds could additionally be used to help remedy these conditions.
      • By law, disaster-relief employment activities may only respond to or mitigate the impact of the disaster, which means grantees may not use DWG-funded disaster-relief employees to perform work aimed at preventing future disasters.  We consider preventative measures—setting up quarantines, cleaning buildings—as mitigation activities because they avoid the further spread of the virus.

2.)  Which entities are eligible to apply for a Disaster Recovery DWG under HHS Secretary Azar’s public health emergency declaration for coronavirus?

  • Entities eligible to apply for Disaster Recovery DWGs are:
    • States
    • Outlying areas
    • Indian Tribal Governments as defined in the Stafford Act (42 U.S.C. 5122(6))
  • Secretary Azar’s declaration is “nationwide,” so any eligible entity in any location may apply.


3.)  What activities must states carry out with Disaster Recovery DWGs under the coronavirus public health emergency declaration?

  • WIOA sec. 170(d) generally requires that Disaster Recovery DWGs include disaster-relief employment, with the option for grantees to also conduct employment and training activities (which may include career, training, and supportive services) for workers eligible to participate in Disaster DWG activities.


4.)  Who can be served by Disaster Recovery DWGs under the coronavirus public health emergency declaration?

  • Eligible Disaster DWG participants for both disaster-relief employment and employment and training activities are:
    • Dislocated workers
    • Workers laid-off as a result of the disaster, including:
      • workers who are laid off as a result of a quarantine, because they miss work to care for a family member, or because they cannot come to their regular workplace in order to follow socially distance requirements; and
      • workers laid off after a business closure related to disruptions caused by the outbreak and the efforts to contain it.
    • Self-employed individuals unemployed or underemployed because of the disaster
    • Long-term unemployed individuals

5.)  In addition to Disaster Recovery DWGs, can states apply for Employment Recovery DWGs in response to layoffs caused by cancellations or shutdowns caused by coronavirus?

  • Yes.  Any layoffs caused by the virus’ spread, or other economic causes, could be eligible for Employment Recovery DWGs.  WIOA limits Employment Recovery DWGs to providing only employment and training activities.
  • As already allowed under WIOA statute and regulations, states can apply for Employment Recovery DWGs if the following events occur:
    • If there are 50 or more individuals laid off by one employer.
    •  If there are significant layoffs that significantly increase unemployment in a given community, even if the total layoffs are fewer than 50 individuals.  For example, a cancellation of a large event may qualify because several different businesses such as hotels, caterers, area restaurants may lay off workers as a result of the event’s cancellation.

If you have questions related to the DWG program in response to the coronavirus public health emergency declaration, please contact WAPDD’s Workforce Development department.  Counties and cities who are interested must prepare a detailed budget and project description.

Arkansas Division of Workforce Services

Layoff Aversion Strategies – ADWS Rapid Response Funding

Some examples of layoff aversion projects that use creative strategies to address COVID-19-related effects* on businesses and workers include, but are not limited to:

  • A call center environment needs to have their employees work from home/remotely in order to support social distancing and limit potential exposure to COVID-19. Layoff aversion funding could be used to purchase remote access equipment that the employee would need to use from home to support their work.
  • A business whose employees use specific software or computer applications asks their employees work from home/remotely in order to support social distancing and limit potential exposure to COVID-19. Layoff aversion funding could be used to purchase the software/programs that the employee would need to use from home to support their work.
  • In order to support social distancing and limit potential exposure to COVID-19, a company that usually runs two shifts of workers adds a third shift, so that fewer employees are on onsite at any given time. Layoff aversion funding could be used to offset related costs to the employer or workers.
  • A small business needs their employees to be at work, on site, but cannot afford frequent deep cleaning to help prevent potential exposure to COVID-19. Layoff aversion funds could be used to pay for a cleaning/sanitization service.

If you have questions related to Layoff Aversion Strategies in response to the coronavirus public health emergency declaration, please contact WAPDD’s Workforce Development department.  Businesses/employers who are interested must prepare a detailed budget and project description.


Shared Work Program

The Shared Work Unemployment Compensation Program provides an alternative for employers faced with a reduction in their work force. It allows an employer to divide available work or hours of work among a specific group(s) of employees in lieu of a layoff, and it allows the employees to receive a portion of their unemployment benefits while working reduced hours.

Arkansas Small Business & Technology Development Center

The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center is a university-based economic development program that assists entrepreneurs, both new and seasoned, with every aspect of business creation, management, and operation.

ASBTDC works with all types of for-profit businesses, from home-based to high-tech. You can receive one-to-one confidential consulting and cutting-edge market research at no charge or expand your expertise by participating in our affordable training.

As the state’s premier business assistance provider, the ASBTDC is dedicated to helping small businesses achieve success and to promoting economic development throughout the state.

Unique among Arkansas economic development organizations, ASBTDC serves businesses from any county in Arkansas, in any industry sector, at any stage of business development.

Employee Retention Tax Credit

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Other Disability Focused Federal Resources

AEDCE COVID-19 Business Toolkit

Restore Your Economy Economic Development Resources

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