On Wednesday afternoon, I hosted a Telephone Town Hall for folks across the First District on COVID-19. I held this call alongside a special guest expert, Carl Knoblock, Director of the Richmond District Office of the Small Business Administration (SBA), to answer the most pressing questions from folks in our region. In case you were unable to join us on that call, click here to listen to the call in its entirety on my Facebook page where it was streamed live.
Additionally, I wanted to provide you with a highlight of four questions that we received live on the call with answers below. I appreciate everyone who participated on the call, and in case we were unable to get to your question, click here for frequently asked questions on Coronavirus from the CDC and click here for comprehensive information regarding the economic response, vital resources, and more to address the Coronavirus outbreak. You can also submit your question through my website and we will get back to you with an answer.
In case you missed the call, click here to be added to my telephone town hall call list, and if you missed the invitation to join the call, click here to receive the latest news, information, and updates on this developing story in your inbox. And be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter to get information as it breaks.
1. What loans are available and how can small businesses apply for loans from the Small Business Administration? What about the Paycheck Protection Program?
The SBA will work directly with the Commonwealth to provide targeted, low-interest loans to small businesses and non-profits that have been severely impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. For more information please visit https://www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/coronavirus-covid-19.
Click here to apply for an SBA Disaster loan
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which Congress passed through the CARES Act, prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses. Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards. Click here for information on the Paycheck Protection Program.
Click here for the application form for the PPP
This form can then be submitted to your local banking institution. You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating in the program.
While the PPP started Friday, not all lenders are able to issue loans at this time. Stay in contact with them for further guidance.
For more information from the SBA, click here
For small business guidance on loan resources, click here
Small Business Owner's Guide to the CARES Act
2. I own a business that employs entirely part-time employees and have had to cease operations, should I apply for the Paycheck Protection Program?
According to Director Knoblock, the best course of action for part-time employees that are economically affected would be to apply for unemployment insurance through the Virginia Employment Commission to bridge these difficult economic times until the business is able to reopen.
Click here for FAQs on Unemployment Insurance
For individuals who need to file for unemployment insurance, you should file your claim on-line (preferred method) through Virginia Employment Commission at www.vec.virginia.gov after you have been out of work at least 1 full day. If you do not have access to a computer, you can file your claim through our Customer Contact Center by calling 866-832-2363 Monday through Friday 8:15am – 4:30pm. Your claim will be effective Sunday of the week in which you submit your on-line application or file through our Customer Contact Center.
3. How long will it be until I receive the funds I’ve applied for?
The SBA has authorized lenders to process, close, and service loans without SBA approval, giving you the means to invest in your business immediately. At this time, it is uncertain as to the exact timeline on when funds applied for under the PPP would be received due to the implementation of the program. For further guidance on the status of your SBA loan, Contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center at 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information regarding the PPP, contact your local bank, credit union, or Farm Credit institution. I will continue to provide you updates via emails, calls, and social media as to the status of these and other programs.
Reminder: while the PPP started Friday, not all lenders are able to issue loans at this time. Stay in contact with them for further guidance.
4. I have hired new employees within the past few weeks, are they covered under the PPP?
The funds provided by the PPP only cover employees brought on before February 15th, 2020. If employees were brought on after that date, unfortunately their wages are not covered under the PPP at this time. However, if you had to furlough employees brought on before February 15th since that time period, their salaries are protected under this measure.
Here are eligibility guidelines regarding the PPP:
You are eligible if you are:
- A small business with fewer than 500 employees
- A small business that otherwise meets the SBA’s size standard
- A 501(c)(3) with fewer than 500 employees
- An individual who operates as a sole proprietor
- An individual who operates as an independent contractor
- An individual who is self-employed who regularly carries on any trade or business
- A Tribal business concern that meets the SBA size standard
- A 501(c)(19) Veterans Organization that meets the SBA size standard
In addition, some special rules may make you eligible:
- If you are in the accommodation and food services sector (NAICS 72), the 500-employee rule is applied on a per physical location basis
- If you are operating as a franchise or receive financial assistance from an approved Small Business Investment Company the normal affiliation rules do not apply
REMEMBER: The 500-employee threshold includes all employees: full-time, part-time, and any other status.
Answers to these questions and more can be heard by clicking here to watch the call on my Facebook page. I will continue to keep you updated regularly through emails, social media posts, and telephone town halls as this outbreak and the response to it continues to develop over the coming days.
As always, I encourage you to share this information with your family, friends, and neighbors and encourage them to sign up for my updates so they never miss a piece of breaking information.