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How to get a small business loan under the $349 billion aid bill - The Washington Post

How to get a small business loan under the $349 billion aid bill - The Washington Post


How to get a small business loan under the $349 billion aid bill - The Washington Post

Posted: 01 Apr 2020 08:01 AM PDT

Business groups say lenders are moving as fast as they can to make the loans available.

"Right now our focus is on speed in terms of making sure these banks have the ability to get loans onto main street quickly," said Tom Sullivan, vice president of small business policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a lobbying group that is working with lenders who will be distributing the funds, which are backed by a federal loan guarantee.

Here are the details on how small-business owners can access the new federal Paycheck Protection Program. This article will continue to be updated as new information is made available.

Q: How do I apply for a small business loan through the Paycheck Protection Program?

The application has been posted on the Treasury Department's CARES Act resource page as of Tuesday afternoon. After you gather the information described on the application form you should contact your bank or an approved lending institution to start the application process.

The Small Business Administration has a network of at least 1,800 approved lenders that process small business loans and intends to add more of them. If your bank is not an SBA-approved lender or you don't have an existing banking relationship, you can contact the SBA to find one. Administration officials say the SBA is working on a geo-coded web page where you can view approved lenders near you, but as of Tuesday afternoon the web page was not live yet.

It is expected that most borrowers will be able to apply online through an approved financial institution, a senior administration official speaking on the condition of anonymity said Tuesday. If you are contacting a lender for the first time the loans are expected to be handled on a first-come-first-serve basis, one senior administration official said Tuesday.

Q: When will the new funding be made available to small businesses?

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday that small business loans will be made available starting Friday. That goal was again confirmed by SBA officials as of Wednesday morning. Detailed application guidelines are also available on the Small Business Administration's website.

The initial crush of applications will be limited to small businesses and non-profits, SBA administrator Steve Bulger said in an interview Wednesday morning. Loans for sole proprietors and independent contractors will see at least one week of delay.

Mnuchin and other administration officials say they are setting up a system in which borrowers will be able to receive funds on the same day they submit an application. Since the initial steps of the approval process will be handled entirely by the lender, there is no separate review being conducted by the SBA.

"The application has been really stripped down from what we normally use in the SBA," a senior administration official said Tuesday.

Even with the SBA's review out of the way, same-day approvals will still be a challenge. The fastest bank loan applications usually incorporate a 1-week review.

Hicham Oudghiri, chief executive of a small-business-focused data analytics and fraud detection company called Enigma Technologies, said it would be difficult for most banks to meet that target without substantially increasing the risk of fraud. Most small businesses will take days just gathering the documents they need to apply, he said.

"Even the most sophisticated banks will have a hard time short cutting their processes to get money out the door this fast," said Oudghiri.

Q: What costs will the new loans cover?

The new loans will cover payroll costs and employee benefits, mortgage interest incurred before February 15, 2020, rent and utilities under lease agreements in force before February 15, 2020 and utilities for which the service began before February 2020.

Payroll costs include salary wages, commissions and tips capped at $100,000 for each employee. It also includes benefits for vacation, parental leave, medical leave, sick leave, some other limited benefit categories. In some cases they also can cover interest on other debts.

Q: How do I prove that my losses are because of coronavirus?

The new loans are available to any business for which "current economic uncertainty makes the loan necessary to support your ongoing operations," according to an SBA fact-sheet published Tuesday. Approved lenders will make a determination of need for your business based on SBA guidelines, but without a separate SBA review.

The SBA is preparing to publish specific regulations that might better-define eligibility requirements. That regulation is expected to be finalized in the next few days, regional SBA administrator Steve Bulger said Wednesday morning.

Q: Which businesses qualify under the Paycheck Protection Program?

Small businesses, nonprofits, tribal business concerns that meet the SBA's standard business size definition and veterans organizations organized under 501(c)(19) with fewer than 500 employees are eligible for loans under the program. Self-employed individuals, independent contractors and sole-proprietors also are eligible. To receive a loan, your company must have been in business as of Feb. 15.

It is yet to be determined whether churches and other faith-based organizations qualify for loans under the nonprofit category, regional SBA administrator Steve Bulgar said Wednesday.

If you are in the food service business, the 500-employee cap is applied on a per-physical-location basis, according to a fact sheet published by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

There are criminal penalties of up to $1 million for submitting fraudulent information to a federally-insured lender.

Q: I work as a sole-proprietor or independent contractor. Can I receive a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program?

Yes. The law specifically provides for sole proprietors and independent contractors. SBA administrator Steve Bulger said Wednesday morning that loans for independent contractors are likely to be made available one week after the other small business loans, which would translate to a start date of April 10 for those loans.

"We want to make sure we gt the small businesses teed up first," Bulger said Wednesday. "We just want to make sure the rules are in place for independent contractors and self-employed."

The SBA is working on a detailed regulation that will define how independent contractors should apply for loans, including whether their company should count them in its employee totals on loan applications. That regulation is also expected to address the status of 1099 employees and part-time employees. That regulation is expected to be finalized in the next few days, Bulger said Wednesday morning.

Q: I run a small partnerships or S-corporations. Am I eligible?

The SBA is working on a detailed regulation set guidance for these businesses, expected to publish by Friday April 3, one SBA official said Wednesday. This article will be updated when more information becomes available.

Q: How much money can my business receive through the new loan program?

The Paycheck Protection Program provides small business loans of up to $10 million to cover payroll and certain other expenses, or 2.5 times your total payroll expenses for the loan period. Other SBA loan programs, including the federal disaster relief program, offer much smaller loans.

Q: What sort of thing could disqualify me?

The application includes a long list of potential disqualifying factors. You cannot receive a paycheck protection program loan if your business or any of its owners have previously been suspended, debarred, proposed for debarment, declared ineligible, or were voluntarily excluded from the loan program by a federal agency, or are presently involved in any bankruptcy.

You will be excluded from the program if you have ever taken a loan from the SBA that subsequently caused a loss to the government, is currently delinquent, or resulted in default. The application also excludes businesses in which any 20 percent owner is an individual who is currently subject to criminal charges, or who has previously been convicted or otherwise punished for a crime against a minor.

Q: What information should I prepare?

You will be asked to provide basic identifying information for your business, your business TIN number, your average monthly payroll, the number of jobs supported by your company and what specifically you want to use the loan money for. You will also be asked to list all owners who hold at least a 20 percent ownership stake in the company and affirm that they are not party to federal crimes.

You will also be asked to provide the lender with documentation regarding your employee headcount over time as well as your payroll costs.

Q: What time period is covered by Paycheck Protection Program loans?

The new loans apply to costs incurred from Feb. 15 through June 30.

Q: What's the interest rate?

The Treasury Department is initially setting the loan rate at 0.5 percent. However the CARES Act caps the interest rate for the Paycheck Protection Program at 4 percent, so it is possible the interest rate could increase.

Q: What will the payment schedule look like?

The first payment will be due after six months and the full loan will be due after two years, according to SBA informational materials.

Q: It looks like there are a lot of different federal loan programs. Can my business receive funding through more than one?

Yes. Businesses that have pending or existing SBA disaster assistance loans can still receive funding through the Paycheck Protection Program as long as the loans are not being used for the same thing. You also can still apply for a loan if you have an insurance claim pending. A single business cannot apply for more than one Paycheck Protection Loan, however.

Q: What if I'm still paying off a different SBA disaster loan?

The Small Business Administration has made all deferments through Dec. 31 automatic. That means small-business owners do not have to contact the SBA to request deferment. If you have an existing or pending loan through the SBA's disaster assistance loan program, you can refinance it into your Paycheck Protection Program loan, possibly lowering your interest rate.

Q: Can the loan eventually be forgiven?

Yes. The program includes loan forgiveness covering costs for the first eight weeks of the loan for companies able to keep employees on payroll or continue paying bills throughout the coronavirus crisis.

The amount of loan forgiveness will include payroll costs for individuals below $100,000 in annual income, mortgage and rent obligations, including interest and utility payments. If an employee is above a $100,000 annual salary, the first $100,000 will be factored into the company's loan forgiveness total but any amount above that will not. As of Wednesday morning the SBA had not decided whether benefits will factor into that cap.

The total amount of forgiveness will be reduced if your workforce is drawn down through attrition or if wages are reduced. If you are forced to lay off employees because of economic conditions, you may be able to preserve some of your loan guarantee by hiring them back.

It is expected that at least 75 percent of the costs forgiven come from payroll, according to the SBA fact-sheet released Tuesday.

Eligibility for loan forgiveness starts eight weeks after the loan origination date. There is a maximum 10-year maturity after application for loan forgiveness.

Q: If I receive a salary as a sole proprietor, independent contractor, limited liability partnership, or other business that I own, can I count my own salary towards loan forgiveness?

To be determined. SBA regional administrator Steve Bulger said Wednesday morning that this question would be addressed in future SBA regulations. In any case the $100,000 cap for loan forgiveness would likely apply. This post will be updated as new information becomes available.

Q: This article did not answer my question. How can I find more information?

If you would like to suggest an additional question for this article, please email the author at Aaron.Gregg@washpost.com.

Your primary points of contact for information on federal loan programs should be the U.S. Small Business Administration or an SBA-qualified financial institution. You can reach the SBA by email at answerdesk@sba.gov or by phone at 1-800-827-5722. The agency has reported receiving "unprecedented" interest in its loan program in recent weeks but is working to set up new call centers to handle the flood of new inquiries.

You can also follow your regional SBA administrator on Twitter for periodic updates. There are 10 SBA regions and you can find yours by clicking here.

Mnuchin says he will ask Congress for more small business loan funding if $350 billion pool runs out - CNBC

Posted: 01 Apr 2020 07:47 AM PDT

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, at the White House on March 25, 2020, in Washington, DC.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

The small business measures aim to help companies cover payroll and other expenses during the punishing outbreak. Firms with fewer than 500 employees can use the money to cover salary, wages and benefits, with a maximum loan of $10 million or 250% of monthly payroll. 

The loans will be available through Small Business Administration approved lenders. Payments will be deferred for six months, and companies can apply for forgiveness on at least part of what they borrow. 

Companies can get the loans forgiven if they use the funds on pay, rent, mortgage or utilities, but the amount forgiven gets reduced if businesses cut jobs or reduce pay.

Lenders will start processing applications for the loans as soon as Friday, according to the SBA. 

Numerous lawmakers have already called for more legislation to mitigate the pandemic's damage as widespread layoffs hit workers and the health-care system in parts of the country buckles under the strain of COVID-19. Jobless claims have already reached a record 3.3 million. Friday's government employment report for March will show an even broader picture of how the outbreak has hurt workers.  

Businesses in large parts of the country are expected to stay shut down at least through April. 

The U.S. has more than 189,000 cases of COVID-19, and at least 4,081 deaths have been linked to the disease, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 

Subscribe to CNBC on YouTube.

The new COVID-19 loan for small businesses has a novel feature: Keep workers, loan gets forgiven - The Colorado Sun

Posted: 31 Mar 2020 08:38 PM PDT

As coronavirus cases in Colorado's mountain communities reached 50, Karen Hoskin made the difficult decision to temporarily close the tasting room of Montanya Distillers. She gave the affected workers two weeks pay and hoped to reassess soon. 

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That was more than two weeks ago. 

Hoskin, who founded the Crested Butte rum maker in 2008, is still paying all of her 32 employees, whether they're working or not, and despite declining sales in just a few weeks. They're like family, she said. "When I need them the most, they show up for me and work so hard at our busiest times of the year when we are crushed."

She's hoping for relief in the form of a new federal small-business loan that includes an astonishing feature: she won't have to pay it back. It's part of the $2 trillion federal COVID-19 stimulus package, passed last week by Congress. And it means that she can get a loan to cover two-and-one-half-months of payroll, rent and utilities, and — if used for those purposes — the loan could be forgiven. She hopes to apply when the loan becomes available from her bank, which is expected to begin Friday.  

"It's probably not all that we need. But I've been paying out of pocket for 32 people who have been working and many who have not been working for two-and-a-half weeks," Hoskin said. "Keeping them on the payroll is the number one best way for us (when) we're able to hire them back." 

Karen Hoskin, owner of Montanya Distillers in Crested Butte, Colorado moves some boxes with a front end loader while on a tour of Montanya Distillery in December 2019. (Dean Krakel, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Hoskin speaks of the "Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act," or the CARES Act. It's the one that gives most American adults $1,200. It provides an extra $600 a week for those on unemployment. And it set aside $349 billion for struggling companies to fund the "Paycheck Protection Program" loan, the forgivable loan if employers keep workers employed and their businesses running.

About 1,800 banks, including several in Colorado, are already qualified to make the loans since they're U.S. Small Business Administration lenders. Banks are now waiting for the final rules from the SBA, which are expected by Friday, according to an agency spokesman. The overall program outline is detailed in the CARES Act and banks are preparing for what will likely be huge demand from local businesses. This week, Vectra Bank in Denver started moving more employees to its review, process and approval divisions for training. 

"Our customers are so interested, our phones are ringing off the hook with people wanting to know how this is going to work," said Bruce Alexander, Vectra's president and CEO. "Our plan is that after we take their application and get it approved, we'd open an account and put the money in the account the same day — same-day approval. We all realize there's a real sense of urgency to this."

Underwriting

It's an unusual loan with few traditional requirements — there's no collateral needed and no personal guarantees necessary. It appears akin to the low-barrier $1,200 checks, which as long as your past taxes prove you made less than a certain amount, the money will show up in the mail or your bank account. The new loan relies partly on the "good faith" of applicants to certify that their business was hurt by COVID-19 and they're not waiting on another federal COVID loan for a similar purpose. 

"We'll have to collect some things that are just for basic bank regs that are around Know Your Customer and things like that, but that's it. And I'm speaking for ANB (Bank) but there will be no financial statements required, there's nothing," said Koger Propst, ANB's president and CEO. "So why can we do it? Because they moved this to 100% guaranteed by the SBA."

The law requires banks to verify the applicant's identity, the company's past year's payroll, payroll taxes and unemployment insurance filings, and that it was in business on Feb. 15.

More: Colorado processed 61,000 unemployment claims in four days with upgraded system

The COVID-19 pandemic caused economies worldwide to crater as businesses were forced to shut or slow down because of government mandates. Wall Street tanked. Colorado's unemployment filings skyrocketed, with nearly 20,000 claims for the week ended March 21 — or about 250% higher than the highest weekly count during the Great Recession. The $2 trillion federal stimulus package was meant to quickly provide cash with few strings in order to help as many citizens and businesses as possible to hold off financial ruin a bit longer as the coronavirus ravages the U.S. 

This is nothing like the Great Recession of 2008, said Mac Clouse, a finance professor at University of Denver's Reiman School of Finance. 

"You can trace some of the problems in the 2008-2009 financial crisis to just bad lending decisions and mistakes and activities that shouldn't have been done," Clouse said. 

"What's going on now is not the fault of anybody. Just go back a couple months, things were booming. The economy was booming, we were at record high stock levels, unemployment was incredibly low, the economy was doing incredibly well," he said. "And if you asked the question, 'What could possibly happen that would stop this train?' Well, we unfortunately learned."

Details and patience

Rachel Wells, owner of Santiago's Mexican Restaurant, said that offering curbside pickup was left up to each franchise owner of the popular green chili and breakfast burrito eatery. She decided to close the three stores she operates through April 11 to protect her employees, the length of Gov. Jared Polis' stay-at-home order. 

She's been looking into different recovery options, such as checking with insurance for coverage because, "Yes, this is a God given act but the government asking us to close our business is not." 

Her voice lit up upon hearing about the federal paycheck loan. 

"If you think about it, two-and-a-half months of payroll when you have 30 employees, that's a lot of money," Wells said. 

Lunch customers order to-go food at Santiago's in Lafayette, Colorado, on March 17, 2020. The restaurant is typically busy with people grabbing burritos and tacos for lunch. Many people also eat in the store, but chairs have been removed to remind people of the statewide order that bans in-person dining for a month to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. (Dana Coffield, The Colorado Sun)

Small businesses are learning the details of the new loan mostly from trade organizations, including the Colorado Restaurant Association, small business group NFIB and local chambers.

"You must certify that the loan will support ongoing operations of the business due to current economic conditions, and the loan for this program can only be used for expenses incurred between Feb. 15 and June, 30," Holly Wade, NFIB's director of research and policy analysis, advised during a webinar on Monday. 

"It's very important to keep all paperwork on qualifying expenses," she added, "so you can make sure you have all the paperwork available for the lender." 

During the webinar Tuesday for the Colorado Restaurant Association, attorney Torben Welch, a partner at Messner Reeves, repeated the benefit of forgiveness should appeal to all businesses: "I would recommend everybody at least attempt to see if it works for you, simply because there is a forgiveness to it."  

There is some concern about potential fraud, and skepticism from some business owners about whether the loans will be all that they promise. Until the process actually begins, no one knows what demand will be, or whether banks are equipped to handle the potential deluge of applications. But with COVID's devastation on local business, Congress needed to get this passed quickly, said Alexander, with Vectra Bank.

"I think it did need to be done, because otherwise the impact would be that the unemployment rate would skyrocket to 20% and that just ripples throughout the economy. How do you restart these businesses if you don't have some way to bridge them through," he said. "I mean, is it the perfect solution? I don't know. Did they put it together in a week or two so could it have holes in it? Of course. But I think conceptually, it does make sense right now to help out all these folks."

Santiago's in Lafayette, Colorado, remained open on March 25, 2020, with a skeleton crew serving to-go food, including the restaurant chain's beloved breakfast burritos, but reminding customers that dining inside the restaurant, or even sitting down while waiting for orders to be placed on the counter, is prohibited by Gov. Jared Polis' physical distancing orders to slow the spread of the coronavirus. (Dana Coffield, The Colorado Sun)

Hoskin, with Montanya Distillers, closely followed the CARES Act "get formed, unraveled and rebuilt." She met with other Gunnison Valley business leaders connected through Western Colorado University's ICELab, to discuss options and benefits on weekly Zoom calls. She applauds how the CARES Act seems to protect business owners who do the right thing.  

"What I was really impressed with was if you've been dodging anything in the past — payroll taxes, paying under the table — that's really going to bite you back. This really benefits companies that have been on the straight and narrow, which is my company," Hoskin said. "If we had 100 employees in January or February and we only have 80 when we applied for the loan, we would only get 80% of the loan forgiven."

Since the loans are guaranteed by the federal government, Vectra and ANB believe the process could be fast, with same-day approvals and cash deposited into customer accounts on the same day. The loans won't be stuck in a federal funnel waiting for SBA approvals. These loans are handled by local banks.

The first due dates can be deferred for up to one year. If the loan is used for other expenses not deemed forgivable, then only part of the loan is forgiven. Also, if the business cuts staff or reduces wages between Feb. 15 and June 15, a similar percentage of the loan would not be forgiven. Companies, however, could rehire those employees or make up for the wage reductions by June 30 to qualify for forgiveness. 

The rest of the loan would have an interest rate capped at 4%.  

"The goal is to allow small businesses to pause," said ANB Bank's Propst. "And that's a hard thing when sales go from 100% to zero or 10%, there's no small business who can plan for that. And no big business who can plan for that, frankly. And so what the virus and the plans for trying to contain it means is everybody just went to zero and this bill gives people a chance to say 'Well, it's a pause, not a kill.'"

Banks making the loans are allowed to charge a 5% fee for loans of $350,000 or less, a 3% fee for loans between $350,000-$2 million and a 1% fee for loans of $2 million or more. 

Before COVID-19 was discovered in Colorado, Montanya Distillers opened its Crested Butte tasting room to locals and visitors. That's closed now in the era of social distancing, but owner Karen Hoskin is still paying her workers, including the tasting room employees who are staying at home. In the more social era of last December, Montanya's Valentia rum was created and distilled by women. (Dean Krakel, Special to The Colorado Sun)

There's also a second loan available for businesses that need more cash. The Economic Injury Disaster Loan, which was part of an earlier COVID law passed on March 6, authorized $7 billion for the SBA to offer up to a $2 million loan with a maximum 3.75% interest for for-profit businesses and 2.75% for nonprofits. All who apply are also eligible for a $10,000 emergency grant issued within three days of the application. 

Recovery seems far off especially with no end to COVID-19 in sight. But Polis has started building a recovery plan, creating a team led by former Denver Mayor Federico Peña and entrepreneurs like Brad Feld, a venture capitalist who is keeping the public updated on Twitter

The economy will revive someday but will likely look different with, perhaps, more people working remotely or businesses deciding they don't need as much real estate as they did pre-COVID-19, said Clouse, the DU professor. But what the world doesn't need at this point is the stress of past-due payments and bill collectors.

"I think one of the biggest areas that we have to make sure gets going quickly is the small businesses because they're the ones most at risk," Clouse said. "Let's get things going again. When the economy is going again you can start catching up to what's owed. But it's not going to happen if everybody fails. … If you let them ride a little bit with some patience in terms of collections, something could happen."

MORE: 6 ways Congress' $2 trillion aid package will help Coloradans weather coronavirus


Paycheck Protection Program, the 7(a) loan

To qualify, a small business, nonprofit, Tribal business concern or veterans organization with fewer than 500 employees (there are some exceptions) must have been operating on Feb. 15. The loan is available from local banks — not the SBA. Borrow up to 2.5-times of one's average monthly payroll costs — up to $10 million. Expect to provide proof of payroll costs for the past 12 months and be sure to track expenses after receiving the loan. 

Lenders will forgive 100% of loan if it's used to cover an eight-week period by June 30 for expenses limited to:

  • Payroll support, including paid sick or family leave, health care benefits
  • Employee salaries under $100,000
  • Mortgage payments
  • Rent
  • Utilities
  • Debt obligations incurred before the covered period

If loan is used for other items: 

  • A lower percentage of the loan is forgiven 
  • Interest rate capped at 4% for amounts not forgiven
  • Maximum 10-year term

Applicants cannot receive other federal COVID-19 aid for the same purpose, such as paying staff wages or sick leave, between Feb. 15 and Dec. 31. But if the business owner already has an SBA emergency loan, it can be refinanced into the paycheck loan.

To apply, check with your local bank. More details are posted on the SBA's site.

Read about the Paycheck program in the CARES Act.


SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan:  

Up to $2 million loan at a 3.75% interest rate is available to small businesses to cover fixed debts, payroll, and other bills that can't be paid because of COVID-19. Applicants must have been in business on Jan. 31, 2020 and self-certify their eligibility. Apply: covid19relief.sba.gov

Emergency Economic Injury Grants

Provide up to $10,000 for businesses and nonprofits harmed by COVID-19 within three days of applying for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan. This does not need to be repaid and can be used for worker's pay, sick leave and for increased production costs due to supply chain disruptions, or other business obligations. The grant can be requested while applying for the SBA disaster loan at covid19relief.sba.gov.

Rising Sun

The latest from The Sun

Coronavirus: Northwest Florida small businesses can apply for $5,000 grants from new program - Pensacola News Journal

Posted: 01 Apr 2020 04:20 AM PDT

Madison Arnold, Pensacola News Journal Published 6:00 a.m. CT April 1, 2020

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The founder of a top food Instagram account shares how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting local restaurants and how you can help support. USA TODAY

Small businesses throughout the Panhandle have another lifeline after the creation of the Northwest Florida Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Grant Program this week.

Businesses with between two and 10 employees will be able to apply for a grant of up to $5,000 to help offset losses related to the coronavirus pandemic. The fund was jump-started with a $250,000 Gulf Power donation through its economic development fund.

The Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of West Florida will administer the program and any assistance needed to complete the application. The organization has also been working to help businesses apply for both a state emergency bridge loan and a federal disaster loan.

To provide our community with important public safety information, our newsroom is making stories related to the coronavirus free to read. To support important local journalism like this, please consider becoming a digital subscriber.

"The impact really I would say is to just try and touch as many businesses and as many different lives that really need it at the moment that realistically you can keep afloat," said John Emsing, business consultant for the SBDC at UWF.

The grant application will be open from April 8 to 15 at sbdc.uwf.edu. Business owners can download the application beginning April 6.

Eligibility requirements will include showing a reduction in sales revenue of 25% or more related to the outbreak, being established by Jan. 1 and maintaining a physical location in eligible counties. Those are Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Jackson, Washington, Calhoun and Bay counties.

"We are grateful to be able to help the small businesses that are often the backbone and economic engine of our communities — and what makes Northwest Florida a uniquely special place to live, shop, eat and raise a family," said Marlene Santos, president of Gulf Power, in a news release.

Emsing said he expects more small business grants to come available in the near future. Business owners should follow the organization's Facebook page to learn about any new programs.

"There's a lot of different loans available, some of which come with forgiveness. But any time you have a grant, it's essentially free money," Emsing said. "I think interest will be high in all these programs because right now, money is tight and people are trying to keep their employees working, trying to pay bills."

Other small business resources

Small business owners can fill out the state's Business Damage Assessment Survey. After filling out the survey, federal, state or local agencies may reach out about available programs.

The city of Pensacola has dedicated a staff member to help with small business recovery. Pensacola business owners who need help, particularly with requirements to receive benefits from the federal government's stimulus package, can call 311.

The Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce has a dedicated COVID-19 page on its website, pensacolachamber.com. It has guidance for business, employment, health and community.

The Spring Entrepreneurial Hub has started a weekly Q&A chat to help answer questions of entrepreneurs while dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.

Madison Arnold can be reached at marnold@pnj.com and 850-435-8522.

Read or Share this story: https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2020/04/01/coronavirus-northwest-florida-small-businesses-can-apply-5-000-grant/5095891002/

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