Overview & Eligibility

What is the pivot grant?

The Hawaii Business Pivot Grant Program is designed to help businesses get reimbursed for expenses incurred from implementing changes and adjusting their operational practices, products, services, or related items in order to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible companies or non-profits may receive up to $10,000 for expenses related to pivoting to meet the new economic environment.

Who is eligible to apply to receive the Hawaii Business Pivot Grant?
  • Companies or non-profits registered to do business in Hawaii who have less than 100 employees at the time of submission of application.
  • Company must have suffered economic injury due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • An eligible business must actually operate in a physical commercial space. Home based businesses are not eligible at this time.
  • Must have been in business prior to March 20, 2020
What expenses are eligible for reimbursement?
  • Web development, design, social media and E-commerce
  • Consulting services
  • Professional services related to pivoting your business
  • Related equipment and supplies
  • Physical distancing measures (expenses incurred after Oct.1)
What expenses are not covered under this grant?
  • Rent
  • Utilities
  • Payroll
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Cost of Goods Sold or Inventory
Does anything need to be repaid?

No, these grants do not need to be repaid. The program will issue 1099 forms to all approved applicants. Under current IRS guidance these funds are fully taxable, and as such, all expenses covered under the grant are fully deductible.

When will the Hawaii Pivot Grant application close for submission?

Businesses and non-profits must apply for funding by November 23, 2020, as funds are available.

How do I apply?

You can apply by visiting HawaiiBizPivot.org. The application portal will open on Thursday, October 22 at 7:00 AM HST.

What materials or financial reports do I need to apply?

Proof of payment will be required via receipts, a cancelled check or other proof of payment documentation.

If my company is receiving CARES Act funding, or other government additional grants, are we still eligible to apply?

Companies or non-profits must certify that expenses have not been reimbursed or were covered under another federally funded CARES Act Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) or other county business assistance program, etc.

How long will it take to process my application?

If all information on your application is complete and accurate and all receipts are submitted in good order, review and processing will take 7-10 business days.

What if I’ve already submitted my application and forgot to include additional expenses. Do I create another application or can I add to my existing application?

You may submit one application with all of your receipts. Please review your application and receipts carefully before submitting. We will address additional information to your application on an exception basis. Please know that this will slow the process for your application and that grant funds could be fully expended during this time. We strongly recommend that you have all of your required documents before you start the application process as your application process can’t be completed and payments made until all required documents are received. There will be only one grant disbursement made per company. Please email hawaiibizpivot@cochawaii.org to request any additions to your application.

Who can I contact if I’m having technical issues (e.g., difficulty logging on, elements on the applicant aren’t functioning properly)?

You may contact Submittable, the company that developed the submissions software. One of their agents is available via Live Chat (look for Live Chat icon on the lower left corner on the application page) from 5:00 AM – 1:00 PM or via email at support@submittable.com.

Does a food truck meet the physical commercial space requirement?

Yes as long as the food truck is permitted/licensed.

I understand that home-based businesses do not qualify, but my residence has been zoned for business – can I qualify for this grant?

Yes. You would need to submit your TMK showing your residence is zoned for commercial.

Do bed and breakfast operations qualify for this grant?

Yes, as long as you meet the eligibility requirements.

Can sole proprietors apply for a grant?

Yes, as long as you meet the eligibility requirements.

I received my business license in January, but did not receive my GE until April, would I still qualify?

Yes, as long as the business established date on your GE license is prior to March 20, 2020.

My business has operations here and on the mainland. Can I still apply?

Yes. A business does not need to be operate solely in Hawaii to qualify. However, only reimbursements related to your operations that are located in Hawaii can qualify.

Can businesses without a Form 941 or other payroll register still apply for a grant?

Yes, you can apply for a grant by submitting your most recent signed Schedule C, Form 990 or, as an alternate form, you can sign and submit the attestation form that can be downloaded on the application.

What if I sub-lease a commercial space, does that still qualify as a physical commercial space?

Yes, as long as submitted reimbursement is for lease prior to March 20, 2020.

How is financial hardship due to COVID-19 calculated?

Applicants are required to submit a detailed statement demonstrating how your business was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, a short statement saying that revenues declined will not be sufficient.

I saw that 501 (c)(3) and 501 (c)(19) organizations are eligible for this grant. Are 501 (c)(6) orgs with DCCA eligible for this opportunity? If not, can a 501 (c)(6) org use a qualified fiscal sponsor?

Only non-profits that are 501 (c)(3) or (c)(19) are eligible. Ineligible non-profits may not use a fiscal sponsor to obtain funds.

Eligible Expenses

If I made investments prior to March 20, 2020 to pivot my business to prepare for a recession, are those expenses eligible for reimbursement?

No. Under this program, only costs that have been incurred since March 20, 2020 are eligible for reimbursements.

As a business owner, just to survive the economic shock that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused my business I’ve had to change my operations and business model many times. Can’t any or all of these changes be considered a “pivot”?

The main intent of this grant program is to help business owners invest in new products/services, ways of delivering products/services to reach new customer markets and operating their business differently.  To the extent that your changes match the intent, then it is a “pivot.”

Are salaries for new hires be covered? For example, if my business had to hire a person with a different skill set to execute on a “pivot” plan, is the new hire’s salary considered an eligible “pivot” expense?

Payroll expenses are not allowable under this grant program.  Other grant programs may cover these expenses.  However, the recruitment expense to find that person with a different skill as part of your “pivot” plan is an eligible expense.

I’ve lowered my prices as part of the necessary changes I’ve made to my business to increase sales as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Can I claim the lost gross margin as an eligible “pivot” expense?

While a new pricing strategy is a laudable means to improve the business as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the lost gross margins are not considered an eligible “pivot” expense under this program.  However, the advertising expenses related to communicating the price change are eligible.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic I’ve decided to outsource Payroll and Accounting/Bookkeeping to free-up my capacity to focus on other more strategic business functions. Is the cost of the outsourced providers an eligible “pivot” expense?

Yes.  Since the decision to outsource is a fundamental shift in the operating model of your business in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is an eligible “pivot” expense, as long as there is documentation that this expense was occurred after March 20, 2020, and this expense type did not occur before March 20, 2020.

What if my “pivot” expense doesn’t fit into any of the six (6) categories listed on the application?

We anticipate that there will be eligible “pivot” expenses that do not fit into the categories provided and ask that you select “Other” and provide us an explanation as we intend to review these more closely for eligibility.  If a new category emerges that is common to many applications we will consider adding it to the application going forward.

I have spent a fair amount to re-train myself and staff, e.g., classes, books, online courses, to obtain the skills needed in the new way I’m having to run my business as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Are these expenses eligible for reimbursement?

Yes.  Staff re-training expenses directly related to a business “pivot” as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and conducted by an outside vendor is an eligible reimbursement expense. 

Can I get reimbursed for any amount?

Grant provides reimbursements are up to a total of $10,000. However, there is a $25 minimum for individual submitted expenses and all submissions need to be accompanied by proof of payment.  

If I need to add information to my application after the November 23, 2020 deadline, is that possible?

You may submit one application with all of your receipts. Please review your application and receipts carefully before submitting. We will address additional information to your application on an exception basis. Please know that this will slow the process for your application and that grant funds could be fully expended during this time. We strongly recommend that you have all of your required documents before you start the application process as your application process can’t be completed and payments made until all required documents are received. There will be only one grant disbursement made per company. Please email hawaiibizpivot@cochawaii.org to request any additions to your application.

The deadline for applications is November 23, 2020, what if I have receipts dated after that – can I submit those?

This is a reimbursement program so dates on any submitted receipts cannot be before March 20, 2020. However, an invoice or bill that accompanies a receipt can be for services rendered through December 30, 2020 (not December 31). Subscription services will be prorated to December 30.

What can I submit as proof of payment?

Proof of payment includes receipts showing amount paid and information on what the payment was for; a credit card statement alone is insufficient. A credit card statement must be accompanied by a receipt or invoice that details pivot-related item(s) purchased. A receipt or invoice with “PAID” written or stamped on it is not sufficient; it must indicate that payment was received or be accompanied by a canceled check or bank statement as evidence of payment. For example, an invoice marked paid that includes a zero balance and last four digits of credit card payment is acceptable.

Why is this grant only available for expenses incurred after October 1, 2020 when the state mandated physical distancing measures back in June?

The October 1, 2020 date applies only to physical distancing measure and not the other pivot expense categories. The Hawaii Business Pivot grant program was designed to help companies with expenses that are, generally, not eligible with other business grant programs. Other grant programs have covered expenses back to April or May, which is why this program is covering expenses incurred after October 1.

Does leasing at storage facilities for mobile businesses and leasing out a desk at a commercial space qualify as physical commercial spaces?

Yes, as long as submitted reimbursement is for lease prior to March 20, 2020.  

Are mask, gloves, temperature gauges, sanitizing equipment and cleaning supplies considered PPE?

Yes, they are all considered PPE so they are not covered by this grant program.  

I am remodeling my business to allow for safe distancing – will those expenses be covered?

Yes, as long as the remodeling expenses were incurred after October 1, 2020.

Is the purchase of new equipment for a business to make or offer a new product eligible for reimbursement?

Yes.

Can purchases for a computer, internet service subscription and credit card machine be reimbursed?

Yes, as long as it’s part of your business pivot due to COVID-19.

Online Marketplace 

How do I use the Online Marketplace?

The Online Marketplace connects local companies with products, services, and vendors to assist them in transforming their operations. Costs incurred using these resources are eligible for reimbursement under the grant program.

If you find a company on the Online Marketplace that looks like something you could use, you will have to contact them directly to set up a services contract or purchase a pivot product from them in time to be reimbursed under this program. Their contact information is provided in the Marketplace. You will be responsible for paying the service provider directly.

What kind of services are on the Online Marketplace?

The current service categories: Attorney, Business/Process Optimization Consultant, Consumer Packaging Design, Design/Remodeling/Construction, Recruiter, IT Consultant, Marketing/PR/Design, Sales, Web Designer/eCommerce. As more service providers are available from different categories, we will consider adding those.

What’s the purpose of the Online Marketplace and how is it different from other small business service provider marketplaces in existence?

The services provided in the Business Pivot Marketplace are specifically focused on “pivot”-related business services. In some cases, service providers can offer a fixed fee “pivot” product to expedite purchasing and processing. Please see definition of “pivot” here [add link] and for examples of “pivots” such as: New Product or Service, New Market (geographic or customer segment), New Marketing & Sales Channel, Rebranding or Repositioning and Existing Product or Service, Process Improvement & Automation.

How do I become a vendor?

Sign-up to become a vendor at HawaiiBizPivot.org

Are costs to use any of the companies in the Online Marketplace reimbursable by the Hawaii Business Pivot Grant program?

Yes, as long as the services provided by any company qualify as an eligible expense.

Do I have to use companies that are listed in the Online Marketplace?

No. The Online Marketplace was created to make it more convenient for you to access services that can help you pivot your business. However, you may use any company you choose that provide these services.

How were the service providers selected for the Online Marketplace?

The Marketplace is open to any business with a State of Hawaii GET license or DCCA Certificate of Good Standing and who agree to the Terms and Conditions of Marketplace participation.

By choosing one of these Marketplace service providers, will my chances of receiving approval for my pivot expense reimbursement increase?

Not necessarily. Since the service providers participating in the Marketplace are better informed about the program’s main intent to support a business “pivot,” it may be more likely that their products/services align with the intent of the program, especially those that are listed as fixed fee “pivot” products. However, it is each business owner’s responsibility to ensure that the expenses submitted for the “pivot” expense reimbursement grant adhere to the “pivot” definition and meet the stated eligibility requirements here (link).

Who can I contact if I have questions about the Online Marketplace?

You may call the Hawaii Business Pivot Grant call center, Monday-Friday from 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM, at (808) 657-3495 or contact the center via email: HawaiiBizPivot@cochawaii.org.

Technical Assistance

What kind of technical assistance are you providing?

In addition to the grant and online marketplace, there will be webinars and training to help small businesses in their pivot. We understand that many businesses need advice on how to pivot their business. We will be providing educational webinars and workshops and access to consultant services to help businesses figure out the best way to adjust to the new environment.

How much will the technical assistance cost?

The webinars and training workshops will be free of charge. However, registration is required at HawaiiBizPivot.org.

Where do I find a list of workshops and training sessions?

You can find a list of webinars and other technical assistance at HawaiiBizPivot.org

We are currently working on developing products for e-commerce. Any resources you recommend other than the technical assistance webinars that are posted on your website?

Please visit the online Marketplace for service providers who might be able to assist you. 

Disbursement of Funds

How will I be contacted or know if I will receive a grant?

Applicants will, primarily, be contacted through email: HawaiiBizPivot@cochawaii.org

When and how will the funds be awarded and dispersed?

Funds will be awarded until December 15, as funds are available. If you select reimbursement through ACH (automatic deposits), you can anticipate receiving funds within 2-3 business days. If you select reimbursement with a postal mailed paper check, it will take a little longer, 10-15 business days to process the check plus additional days for delivery.

Where will check payments be mailed from?

Checks will be mailed in envelopes coming from Cardholder Services, P.O. Box 51950, Palo Alto, CA 94303. 

Who can I contact for more information about administration of this grant and disbursement of funds?

Please contact Hawaii Pivot Grant Program call center at 808-657-3495 or via email HawaiiBizPivot@cochawaii.org. 

When is the last day any funds will be paid out?

December 15, 2020 is the last day, pending availability of funds.

What if I’ve already submitted my application and funds run out before I receive my grant?

Funds are available on a first come, first served basis until they run out.

What happens if we make pivot grant expenditures, but then grant funds run out. How do we mitigate the risk?

We suggest that you submit your application as soon as possible.  We strongly recommend that you have all of your required documents before you start the application process as your application process can’t be completed and payments made until all required documents are received.