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Coronavirus

From Coaching To Cash, Options Available To Small Businesses In Midst Of COVID-19

By Jenny Callison, posted May 12, 2020
As they struggle to pay bills and retain employees while complying with regulations, small businesses may be looking for help through the much-publicized Paycheck Protection Program and beyond.
 
Despite predictions that the second round of PPP funding, made available April 27, would be depleted in a matter of days, the fund still has money available, SBA lenders say. Demand has slowed, and regulations, as well as procedures, have been clarified.
 
Anyone wishing to apply for a PPP loan should contact an SBA lender to begin the process. The SBA has published a list of North Carolina-based lenders. There are other national and regional SBA lenders, such as Wells Fargo Bank and South State Bank, which have branches in the Wilmington market but do not appear on this list.
 
Also on the same SBA PPP web page is a list of financial technology companies that are qualified PPP lenders.

One of them, Square, has been processing applications within 48 hours of receipt of a completed application. More information is available here.
 
The SBA has other financial-relief programs in its arsenal as well. One is the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). This loan pool, however, is currently dried up for most small businesses, but new monies are available for agricultural businesses.
 
Agricultural businesses are those “engaged in the production of food and fiber, ranching, and raising of livestock, aquaculture, and all other farming and agricultural related industries,” according to the SBA website.

The SBA site further states it is encouraging all eligible agricultural businesses with 500 or fewer employees wishing to apply for an EIDL to begin preparing the business financial information needed for their application.

The EIDL program for general disaster relief was flooded with applications. In North Carolina alone, 77,089 small businesses had received nearly $263.3 million as of last Friday.
 
For those small businesses that have a current SBA 7(a) or 504 loan or a microloan, the agency is offering comprehensive debt relief. The SBA will pay six months of principal, interest and associated fees for these loans in regular servicing status. For new 7(a), 504 or microloans that will be disbursed before Sept. 27, the SBA will make the first six monthly payments.
 
Borrowers do not need to apply for this relief; it’s automatic, and lenders have been instructed to not collect loan payments from borrowers. More on the debt relief program can be found here, or by contacting the borrower’s lender.

Both the SBA and the N.C. Rural Center offer loans designed to help small businesses survive after a crisis until other forms of financial assistance arrive. Borrowers must repay both of these so-called bridge loans.
 
The SBA’s Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program allows small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly. This bridge loan, according to the SBA website, “provides vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing and can be a term loan or used to bridge the gap while applying for a direct SBA Economic Injury Disaster loan.”

If a small business has an urgent need for cash while waiting for decision and disbursement on an Economic Injury Disaster Loan or other financial assistance, it may qualify for an SBA Express Disaster Bridge Loan
 
The state of North Carolina also offers financial help through the N.C. Rural Center in the form of Rapid Recovery Loans. These loans, funded by the state’s Golden Leaf Foundation, support North Carolina small businesses and family farms as they recover from the economic impact of COVID-19. They are intended as a bridge to keep businesses afloat until the business receives federal loans, insurance payouts or other forms of financial assistance.
 
Additional information, along with the application, can be found here.
 
Small businesses and nonprofits that need legal help with matters connected with COVID-19 virus impact can contact the N.C. Pro Bono Resource Center. The center has partnered with law firms in the state and with Lawyers for Good Government to launch a remote legal clinic. More information is available here.

Information on current business operating regulations during the state’s modified stay-at-home order can be found on the N.C. Department of Public Safety’s website here.

For help with any small business concern, from weathering the current pandemic to learning how to meet remotely using an online platform, a good first stop is the local Small Business Center. For residents of New Hanover and Pender counties, the SBC is a program of Cape Fear Community College. Brunswick County residents should visit the Brunswick Community College SBC website.
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