Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce shares information about small-business relief programs

The $2 trillion federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act—also known as the CARES Act—provides millions of dollars in relief to small businesses nationwide. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
The $2 trillion federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act—also known as the CARES Act—provides millions of dollars in relief to small businesses nationwide. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

The $2 trillion federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act—also known as the CARES Act—provides millions of dollars in relief to small businesses nationwide. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

April 3 is the first day lending institutions can begin processing loan applications for the Paycheck Protection Program. The PPP is a new Small Business Administration loan established by the $2 trillion federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act—also known as the CARES Act—which was signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 27.

Of the more than $2 trillion, $376 million is dedicated to relief for American workers and small businesses, according to the SBA’s website.

The Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce hosted a webinar April 2 with banking and tax professionals for business owners in the community to learn about relief funding, including the PPP.

“The primary intent for the PPP is to make sure [businesses] can continue to pay their payroll and operating expenses for an eight-week period subsequent to the implementation of funding,” said Mickey O’Neal, a CPA at DRDA in Houston.

Other panelists included Doug Dickey, who is also a CPA at DRDA; Jevaughn Sterling, a senior vice president at Amegy Bank; and Jonathan Pursch, a senior vice president at Frost Bank.

Pursch said the SBA is still working out the details of the plan and issuing guidance to lenders on how to process loan applications.

Kevin Riles, the chamber’s business and profession division chair, who moderated the webinar, said the chamber plans to host another webinar on the same topic in two weeks once there is more clarity on the program.

Community Impact Newspaper sat in on the webinar in order to share answers to frequently asked questions related to the PPP. Quotes from the chamber’s presentation have been edited for length and clarity.

Which businesses are eligible to apply?

“So you're eligible, generally, if you are a small business with fewer than 500 employees,” Sterling said. “There are a few exceptions that have already been identified for some companies and industries. In food accommodation services, that 500 rule can be applied per physical location. We're also aware of several other exclusions being provided to manufacturers. If you're an individual who operates as a sole proprietor, you're also eligible, and an individual that operates as an independent contractor is also eligible.”

Pursch said the majority of businesses in America are under 500 employees and meet the required criteria.

“We're not discouraging anyone from applying because most businesses are adversely impacted by the coronavirus and would need these funds,” Pursch said. “So most businesses are going to be eligible to apply.”

How much will a PPP loan be for?

“The question is, 'How much can I borrow?'” O’Neal said. “The borrowing amount is based on average compensation, the baseline being two-and-a-half times your average monthly payroll. It says 'not to exceed $10 million'—that's a very specific provision.”

O’Neal said for nonseasonal employers that have been in business since before 2019, the maximum loan amount is two-and-a-half times their average monthly payroll cost in 2019. For newer business, the maximum loan amount is two-and-a-half times their average monthly payroll costs for January and February of this year.

Loan calculations for seasonal businesses differ slightly, with the loan amount equaling two-and-a-half times the average of monthly payroll costs for a 12-week period beginning Feb. 15, 2019, or March 1, 2019, and ending Jun 30, 2019.

How do you get the loan forgiven?

In order for businesses to be eligible for loan forgiveness, Sterling said, employers must keep all employees on the payroll for an eight-week period starting when the business receives the loan. Additionally, O’Neal added that there are very specific guidelines for what loan money can and cannot be used for.

“You are eligible for loan forgiveness if the proceeds of the loan are used for specific items during the eight-week period starting on the date of the origination of the loan,” O’Neal said. “Those costs are essentially payroll costs: This could be rent; this could be utilities; this could be bonuses to replace tips for people in the entertainment industry.”

What steps do I need to take in order to begin applying?

“What you can start doing over the weekend, while we're waiting for application details to be available, is gather your payroll statements and submit them to the bank so we can review them, help you calculate the loan amount and then, apply directly to the SBA for the approval.”

More information about the specifics of the PPP is available on the SBA website.

By Claire Shoop
Claire joined Community Impact Newspaper in September 2019 as the reporter for the Sugar Land/Missouri City edition. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in May 2019 where she studied journalism, government and Arabic. While in school, Claire was a fellow for The Texas Tribune, worked for the student newspaper, The Daily Texan, and spent a semester in Washington, D.C. She enjoys playing cards with her family and listening to the Boss, Bruce Springsteen.


Texas comptroller predicts slow, steady economic turnaround post-pandemic

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said the state entered the era of the coronavirus in a healthy financial situation, which bodes well for the future as reopening continues, but that Texans are not out of the woods yet.

Superintendent Charles Dupre spoke to the Fort Bend ISD community in a video message May 27. (Courtesy Pexels)
Amid uncertainty about next school year, Fort Bend ISD to offer full-time at-home learning

FBISD's at-home learning option will be for available for families fearful of returning to school because of the coronavirus.

Nursing facilities across Texas will be able to apply for federal funds to purchase devices to connect residents to friends and family. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Gov. Greg Abbott announces $3.6 million project to connect nursing home residents to families

Gov. Greg Abbott announced May 27 that $3.6 million will be provided to nursing facilities to purchase tablets, webcams and headphones to connect residents with family members.

The latest coronavirus case count in Fort Bend County. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
13 of 34 coronavirus cases reported May 27 in Fort Bend County are located in Sugar Land, Missouri City ZIP codes

Fort Bend County is reporting 34 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, bringing the county total to 1,766, according to data published online May 27.

Sugar Land Mayor Joe Zimmerman announced several city amenities are beginning to reopen. (Graphic by Chase Brooks/Community Impact Newspaper)
Wondering what is open? Sugar Land parks, facilities begin phased reopening

Sugar Land Mayor Joe Zimmerman said the reopening of the city’s parks facilities is being done in accordance with Gov. Greg Abbott’s Open Texas Plan and guidance from health professionals.

Voters are encouraged to bring their own equipment in order to prevent catching or spreading coronavirus.(Graphic by Matthew T. Mills /Community Impact Newspaper)
State of Texas releases voter health checklist for polling stations in June and July

Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs released a checklist May 26 for voters to follow to help prevent the spread of coronavirus at polls.

On May 27, SpaceX will launch NASA astronauts to the International Space Station. This marks the first time in nearly a decade U.S. astronauts have launched from the U.S. (Courtesy NASA Television)
UPDATED: Here's how to watch the historic May 30 SpaceX rocket launch

For the first time since 2011, NASA astronauts are launching from U.S. soil to space.

Starting May 29, water parks will be able to open up to 25% capacity. (Kelly Schafler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Gov. Abbott issues proclamation allowing water parks to open

Starting Friday, May 29, water parks will be allowed to open but must limit guests to 25% of their normal operating capacity.

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from Fort Bend County. (Community Impact staff)
Fort Bend County reports 71 new coronavirus cases, 23 recoveries over Memorial Day weekend

The 71 new cases bring Fort Bend County's total coronavirus case count to 1,732.

The vote occurred at the regular May 26 court meeting. Commissioners Grady Prestage and Ken DeMerchant and County Judge KP George voted in favor of extending the declaration, while Commissioners Vincent Morales and Andy Meyers voted against the motion. (Courtesy Fort Bend County; José Dennis/Community Impact Newspaper)
Fort Bend County extends disaster declaration to mid-June, examines mobile testing site options

"At some point in time, we need to get back to life as normal," said a commissioner who voted against the extension.

Census population estimates for 2019 show growth in Missouri City, decrease in Sugar Land

While the number of Missouri City residents continues to increase, the city of Sugar Land saw a slight decline in population for the second year in a row.

The flute section of the Rouse High School marching band from Leander performs in this 2017 file photo. (Courtesy Leander ISD)
Texas schools may begin hosting sports workouts, band practices June 8

The University Interscholastic League released guidelines for allowing sports workouts and marching bands to practice.