Pittsburgh-area music venues, theaters hamstrung by issues with Small Business Administration website - TribLIVE

Pittsburgh-area music venues, theaters hamstrung by issues with Small Business Administration website - TribLIVE


Pittsburgh-area music venues, theaters hamstrung by issues with Small Business Administration website - TribLIVE

Posted: 18 Apr 2021 05:01 AM PDT

Local music venues are facing another shutdown.

The Small Business Association website where venues are supposed to be able to submit an application for money is not working. The glitch is holding up federal relief money for venues and causing frustration.

The Save Our Stages Act was passed as part of a covid-19 relief bill in December to help with funding for local venues. The act led to Shuttered Venue Operators Grants which were to be available to apply for on April 8.

"They had major technical issues and they took it down and have been radio silent about when it will be back up to apply," said Brian Drusky, owner of Drusky Entertainment, a Pittsburgh-based concert promoter via email. "Not one application has been filed."

There is a message on the U.S. Small Business Administration website that recognizes the technical problem. Drusky, who is PA precinct captain for the National Independent Venue Association along with Drusky's marketing manager Adam Valen, of the South Side has been in correspondence with the Small Business Association.

"They've been trying to get answers, but no answers are forthcoming, except that they are working on it and they will let everyone know exactly when they can apply," Drusky said.

Drusky said he's received a lot of calls, texts, and emails expressing panic. He said some venues are relying on the money due to pay bills.

They haven't said that too many people tried to log on at once, but Drusky said from what he understands it was upwards of 14,000 people on at one point.

"Although a lot, that's hardly too many people in the grand scheme of things," Drusky said. "You could get on the portal to start to apply, but you weren't able to upload any of your documents. These venues are hanging on for dear life, not just here but all over the country. We can't understand why it's taking so long for the money to get to people that really need it to survive."

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Tribune-Review

Miss Freddye performs on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018 at Moondogs Pub in Blawnox.

Ron Esser, whose nickname is "Moondog" is owner of Moondog's Pub and Starlite Lounge in Blawnox. The Starlite will be on the Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" on May 14. He said he's had someone monitoring the Small Business Administration site but that person hasn't been able to get through.

"I am not worried about me," said Esser, of Frazer. "I've been around a while but I am worried about everyone else. How long do they expect people to hang on? I don't understand it."

Esser owns his buildings but there are clubs that have been paying rent for more than a year even though they weren't open, he said. And all of them have to pay utilities even if they own the building.

This latest challenge to get funds is another roadblock, Esser said. He doesn't plan to open Moondog's until October. He plans to host music Thursday evenings beginning June 3 at the Pittsburgh Shrine Center's outdoor pavilion in Harmar for 20 weeks.

"Eventually, you have to jump off a sinking ship," said Esser, who was helped some by an event "Save Moondogs" in March which raised more than $55,000.

"It's frustrating to say the least," Drusky said. "Most are simply biding time at this point. The level of panic when the program didn't open was immense, which really went to show how many venues are relying on this funding."

The $16 billion has been ready for distribution for months, Drusky said.

"We all have been patiently waiting for the portal opening," Drusky said. "It's like they sent the life preserver, but we find out that it's been popped. Our ship is sinking at an alarming rate."

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Tribune-Review

The stage area at Mr. Smalls Theatre in Millvale.

The outage is hurting Mr. Smalls Theatre in Millvale.

Liz Berlin, co-owner of Mr. Smalls, said they are doing their best to remain optimistic.

She said in a previous Tribune-Review story that with the venue was forced to take out an economic industry disaster loan when the pandemic hit. Monthly expenses are $10,000-$12,000.

The delay prolongs the venue's state of insecurity, Berin said in an email. She said with the loss of income for more than year she's used all her resources and the business is in debt. Having to wait longer to even see if her club is eligible "is difficult," because there are no guarantees, she said. Supporters can help Mr. Smalls here.

This past autumn, The Rex Theater, one of Pittsburgh's most-beloved rock clubs, closed for good. Like many independent venues across the United States, the South Side stage fell silent earlier in 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic shuttered the live music industry without warning. It's not the only one. Brillobox, Howlers and Mixtape in Bloomfield and Hambones in Lawrenceville that have also shut their doors permanently.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the live music scene hard nationwide. Live music performances all but stopped, and the industry is still reeling from the effects.

Berlin said owning the building is the only reason they've been able to survive.

"While the (Shuttered Venues Operators) grant appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel, that tunnel is getting longer like in a bad dream, and the end is not feeling like a given," she said. "(Small Business Administration) has tweeted that they're hoping the portal can re-open by the end of next week, it can't come soon enough. We are running on fumes over here at Mr. Smalls."

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact JoAnne at 724-853-5062, jharrop@triblive.com or via Twitter .

ADA asks Small Business Administration for additional assistance - American Dental Association

Posted: 15 Apr 2021 08:01 AM PDT

April 15, 2021

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The ADA is asking the Small Business Administration for additional assistance for dentists and dental practices to help ease the economic distress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an April 8 letter to Isabella Guzman, the newly-confirmed administrator of the Small Business Administration, ADA President Daniel J. Klemmedson, D.D.S., M.D., and Executive Director Kathleen T. O'Loughlin, D.M.D., noted that the majority of dental practices are small businesses and said dentists are often small business leaders in their communities and employers. They added that at the beginning of the pandemic, dentists closed their offices for all but urgent and emergency procedures.

After offices reopened, the COVID-19 relief bills — especially the Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Paycheck Protection Program — helped dentists to retain and rehire employees and make updates to their offices to keep everyone safe.

"While these programs were a much-needed lifeline for dental offices, more assistance is needed in order to help ease the economic distress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic," Drs. Klemmedson and O'Loughlin wrote.

To continue helping dentists during the pandemic, the ADA is asking the SBA to ensure that lenders are not requiring overly burdensome documentation to apply for second draw PPP loans and is also asking the agency to simplify the loan forgiveness process and make it more uniform across all banks.

The ADA also congratulated Ms. Guzman on her new position.

"Your experience as a small business entrepreneur, as well as your past work at the California Office of the Small Business Advocate and the Small Business Administration, will prove invaluable to the Biden Administration as it assists small businesses recovering from the extremely challenging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic," Drs. Klemmedson and O'Loughlin wrote.

"The ADA looks forward to working with you, and would welcome the opportunity to meet with you or your staff on this and other issues important to the small business dental community. We would be glad to serve as a resource for you on small business-related topics," the letter concluded.

Follow all of the ADA's advocacy efforts at ADA.org/advocacy.

Small Business Administration: Business Loan Program Temporary Changes; Paycheck Protection Program—Revisions to Loan Amount Calculation and Eligibility - Government Accountability Office

Posted: 15 Apr 2021 08:03 AM PDT

B-333095

March 26, 2021

The Honorable Ben Cardin
Chairman
The Honorable Rand Paul
Ranking Member
Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship  United States Senate

The Honorable Nydia M. Velázquez
Chairwoman
The Honorable Blaine Luetkemeyer
Ranking Member
Committee on Small Business
House of Representatives

Subject: Small Business Administration: Business Loan Program Temporary Changes; Paycheck Protection Program—Revisions to Loan Amount Calculation and Eligibility

Pursuant to section 801(a)(2)(A) of title 5, United States Code, this is our report on a major rule promulgated by the Small Business Administration (SBA) entitled "Business Loan Program Temporary Changes; Paycheck Protection Program—Revisions to Loan Amount Calculation and Eligibility" (RIN:  3245-AH67).  We received the rule on March 12, 2021.  It was published in the Federal Register as an interim final rule on March 8, 2021.  86 Fed. Reg. 13149.  The effective date is March 4, 2021.

According to SBA, this interim final rule implements changes related to loans made under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was originally established under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, Pub. L. No. 116-136, 134 Stat. 281 (Mar. 27, 2020) (CARES Act), to provide economic relief to small businesses nationwide adversely impacted by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).  SBA stated that the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act, Pub. L. No. 116-260, 134 Stat. 1182, 1993 (Dec. 27, 2020) (Economic Aid Act), extended the authority to make PPP loans through March 31, 2021, revised certain PPP requirements, and permitted second draw PPP loans.  SBA also stated that the rule allows individuals who file an IRS Form 1040, Schedule C, to calculate their maximum loan amount using gross income, removes the eligibility restriction that prevents businesses with owners who have non-financial fraud felony convictions in the last year from obtaining PPP loans, and removes the eligibility restriction that prevents businesses with owners who are delinquent or in default on their federal student loans from obtaining PPP loans.

The Congressional Review Act (CRA) requires a 60-day delay in the effective date of a major rule from the date of publication in the Federal Register or receipt of the rule by Congress, whichever is later.  5 U.S.C. § 801(a)(3)(A).  The 60-day delay in effective date can be waived, however, if the agency finds for good cause that delay is impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest, and the agency incorporates a statement of the findings and its reasons in the rule issued.  5 U.S.C. § 808(2).  Here, SBA stated that for good cause it found that a 60-day delay to provide public notice is impracticable and contrary to the public interest.  SBA stated that section 1114 of the CARES Act, and section 303 of the Economic Aid Act, authorize SBA to issue regulations to implement the PPP without regard to notice requirements.  Additionally, SBA stated that the rule is being issued to allow for immediate implementation of changes.  According to SBA, the intent of both the CARES Act and the Economic Aid Act is that SBA provide relief to America's small businesses expeditiously.  Further, according to SBA, given the urgent need to provide borrowers with timely relief and the short period of time before the program ends on March 31, 2021, SBA, in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, determined that it is impractical and not in the public interest to provide a delayed effective date.  An immediate effective date, according to SBA, will allow it to give small businesses affected by the rule the maximum amount of time to apply for loans and lenders the maximum amount of time to process applications before the program ends.

Enclosed is our assessment of SBA's compliance with the procedural steps required by section 801(a)(1)(B)(i) through (iv) of title 5 with respect to the rule.  If you have any questions about this report or wish to contact GAO officials responsible for the evaluation work relating to the subject matter of the rule, please contact Shari Brewster, Assistant General Counsel, at (202) 512-6398.

Shirley A. Jones signature

Shirley A. Jones
Managing Associate General Counsel

Enclosure

cc:  Yvonne Walters
       Attorney Advisor, Office of General Counsel
       Small Business Administration

ENCLOSURE

REPORT UNDER 5 U.S.C. § 801(a)(2)(A) ON A MAJOR RULE
ISSUED BY THE
SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION
ENTITLED
"BUSINESS LOAN PROGRAM TEMPORARY CHANGES;
PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM—REVISIONS TO
LOAN AMOUNT CALCULATION AND ELIGIBILITY"
(RIN:  3235-AH67)

(i) Cost-benefit analysis

In its submission to us, the Small Business Administration (SBA) indicated that it did not prepare an analysis of the costs and benefits of this interim final rule. 

(ii) Agency actions relevant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), 5 U.S.C. §§ 603-605, 607, and 609

SBA stated that the requirements of RFA do not apply if the rule is exempt from notice and comment procedures.  Because, according to SBA, this interim final rule is exempt from notice and comment procedures, SBA determined it is not required to perform a regulatory flexibility analysis.

(iii) Agency actions relevant to sections 202-205 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, 2 U.S.C. §§ 1532-1535

SBA did not discuss the Act in this interim final rule.  In its submission to us, the agency indicated the Act was not applicable to the rule.

(iv) Other relevant information or requirements under acts and executive orders

Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.

SBA waived notice and comment procedures because, according to SBA, section 1114 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, Pub. L. No. 116-136, 134 Stat. 281 (Mar. 27, 2020) (CARES Act) and section 303 of the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act, Pub. L. No. 116-260, 134 Stat. 1182, 1993 (Dec. 27, 2020) (Economic Aid Act) authorize the agency to issue regulations to implement the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) without regard to notice requirements.  In addition, SBA stated this interim final rule is being issued to allow for immediate implementation of the changes, and the intent of the CARES Act and the Economic Aid Act is that SBA provide relief to small businesses expeditiously.  SBA stated that it, in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, determined that it is impractical and not in the public interest to provide a 30-day delayed effective date, given the urgent need to provide borrowers with timely relief and the short period of time before the program ends on March 31, 2021.  According to SBA, an immediate effective date will allow SBA to give small businesses affected by the rule the maximum amount of time to apply for loans and lenders the maximum amount of time to process applications before the program ends.

Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), 44 U.S.C. §§ 3501-3520

SBA determined that this interim final rule will require revisions to existing recordkeeping or reporting requirements of PPP information collections (Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Control Numbers 3245-0407 and 3245-0417).  SBA stated that it requested OMB emergency approval of the revisions to the information collections to give small businesses affected by the rule the maximum amount of time to apply for loans and lenders the maximum amount of time to process applications before the program ends.

Statutory authorization for the rule

SBA promulgated this interim final rule pursuant to sections 636(a)(36), 636(a)(37), and 636m of title 15, United States Code; and section 1114 of the CARES Act, Public Law 116-136, and section 303 of the Economic Aid Act, Public Law 116-260.

Executive Order No. 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review)

SBA stated that this interim final rule is economically significant but that the agency was proceeding under the emergency provision at section 6(a)(3)(D) of the Order based on the need to move expeditiously to mitigate the current economic conditions arising from the Coronavirus Disease 2019 emergency.

Executive Order No. 13132 (Federalism)

SBA determined that this interim final rule will not have substantial direct effects on the states, on the relationship between the national government and the states, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various layers of government.

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