LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Across Arkansas, there are over 249,000 small businesses and many are still fighting to stay alive and pay their employees during this pandemic.
Luckily, help is still out there but deadlines are looming at the end of this month (March 31st).
Edward Haddock, District Director of the Small Business Administration's Arkansas District Office shares advice on how people can get additional paycheck protection loans and what new financial relief programs are on the way for businesses hit hardest in Arkansas.
Q: What are Paycheck Protection Loans (PPP Loans) and who is eligible?
A: The PPP Loan Program was authorized by Congress under the CARES Act to allow the SBA to help assist small businesses and nonprofits deliver essential funding into their businesses and their organizations. This is to keep employees paid and on payroll during the COVID pandemic. Some individuals are eligible for a second draw of PPP loans as well.
Q: Are the loans forgivable?
A: 100% of it is eligible for forgiveness if you use it on those covered expenses and payroll for your employees. So, this in essence, turns into a grant if they follow those guidelines and apply for forgiveness within the allocated period. The business or applicant has 10 months from the day they use the funds to apply for forgiveness.
Q: How many Arkansans have been impacted by these loans already?
A: Over 61,000 loans in Arkansas have been approved totaling over $4.1 billion thus far. Arkansans need this relief. Even if you may not consider yourself a small business, you still might qualify. Let's say you've got an individual lawn care program where it's just you and you don't have any employees. If you're relying on that business to provide income for your family, those are the folks we're looking to get assistance to in this program as well.
Q: What other programs are coming to help businesses?
As part of the Biden Administration's new COVID relief plan, there will be a couple additional grant funds available for shuttered places like theaters and zoos. That application process is opening April 8. Also, there is a restaurant revitalization grant which is going to be coming out targeting our most hard-hit businesses out there.
Head to www.sba.gov for updates on when that will be available.
Q: For people that want to find out if they're eligible or that want to move forward with applying for PPP loans, where can they find more information?
A: They can go directly to a lender and talk to their lender. That's usually the best first step. They can also visit www.sba.gov/localassistance to find a local counselor in their area based on their zip code that can help guide them through that process and redirect them to the most available SBA lenders. They can also call our office at 501-324-7379.