To discuss the implications of the bill for business owners, Richardson Chamber of Commerce President Bill Sproull was joined via a March 30 webinar by U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, D-Dallas and Susheel Kumar, public information officer for the Small Business Administration’s Office of Disaster Assistance.
The $2 trillion stimulus bill, known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, includes the Paycheck Protection Program, a $350 billion relief package for small businesses and certain nonprofits. The program allows eligible organizations with 500 or fewer employees to apply for forgivable loans of up to $10 million, Allred explained. Small businesses are also able to apply for emergency grants of up to $10,000.
“The idea is to get small businesses back on their feet and workers back on payroll,” Allred said.
The amount each business gets is based on average monthly payroll costs a year prior to the date of the loan. The money is intended to cover eight weeks worth of payroll, rent and utilities, or interest payments on mortgages. The principal of the loan will be forgiven so long as the business uses it to pay for approved operational costs.
An application for the loan is not yet available, according to the SBA. A list of approved lenders should be released soon.
Also covered in the presentation were the economic injury disaster loans available through the SBA. Qualifying small businesses and nonprofits can borrow up to $2 million. The free-to-apply loan is backed by the U.S. Treasury, meaning applicants do not have to apply through a bank.
Some of the basic criteria for applicants include an acceptable credit history, a demonstrated ability to eventually repay the loan and a requirement that the business is located in a disaster-declared county, according to the SBA. Kumar encouraged all businesses to apply for the loan, even if they are not sure they qualify.
“We do not want to be the person doing field eligibility, so please go ahead and apply ... seek the assistance that you need and move forward with the recovery process,” he said.
One webinar participant asked if federal small-business loans are available to gig workers. Allred said the stimulus bill was “intentionally targeted” to include those groups as well.
“I would say it’s likely that we have a program that does apply to you,” he said.
Others wondered whether they should wait to apply for the SBA loan until funds are depleted. Kumar urged business owners to submit their applications as soon as possible.
“Please don’t wait till the very last minute; please apply now,” he said. “Working capital is the lifeblood of every organization.”
Once a loan application is received, it takes about two to three weeks for processing, Kumar said. The business should receive the loan within five days after approval, he said.
"We are looking forward to assisting as many businesses as we can," Kumar said.
Allred said his biggest concern is making sure businesses have enough information to access the funding. He said businesses can contact his office for assistance navigating the application process.
“My office is here to help, and we will make sure we do anything we can to get you through this,” he said,
For more information on small-businesses resources, visit allred.house.gov/covid19smallbusiness. To apply for an SBA economic injury disaster loan, visit https://covid19relief.sba.gov.