For Small-Business Owners, a Shifting Landscape of Resources

Small businesses across the country have been pounded by the pandemic. Entrepreneurs have been forced to make drastic cuts and pivot to new business models to keep going. Financial aid, though, is what has kept the lights on. But today, many sources, including private foundations and the federal government, that […]

Small businesses across the country have been pounded by the pandemic. Entrepreneurs have been forced to make drastic cuts and pivot to new business models to keep going. Financial aid, though, is what has kept the lights on.

But today, many sources, including private foundations and the federal government, that once offered loans and grants have either closed their financial aid programs or put them on hold.

The biggest player, the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (P.P.P.), shut down in August, and Congress hasn’t agreed to more aid. If there is no agreement, it will fall to the new administration to negotiate an aid package in late January.

This has put small-business owners in a tough spot. After her business storefront was closed for three months, a PPP loan helped Destiny Burns, 56, the founder of the four-year-old CLE Urban Winery in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, stay afloat.

For now, she’s open for business with reduced hours and capacity. “But I’m hanging in there,” Ms. Burns said. “I’m still in a revenue hole, though, for 2020 as compared to last year — about a 30 percent year-over-year drop.

“Coronavirus cases are surging in Ohio right now, so I am unsure how it will play out — we’ll see,” she added.

Here’s a rundown of what resources are available to small-business owners like Ms. Burns. Keep in mind that the rules continue to shift.

The P.P.P. program is closed. For small-business operators who did receive one, the loans are forgivable; in essence, they are turned into grants, if the funds were used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent and utilities (a portion of the forgiven amount must have been used for payroll).

Originally, the loans had to be used within eight weeks of receiving the money. That allotted time was pushed to 24 weeks through the P.P.P. Flexibility Act, which also extended the deferment date of the first payment on the loan to 10 months after the end of the covered period, and the loan forgiveness application was simplified.

The S.B.A. does have other helpful offerings. Its Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program provides up to six months of working capital, with a fixed interest rate of 3.75 percent. Payment can be deferred for a year, but interest will accrue. Loans have repayments of up to 30 years.

The agency is also providing small businesses that have a relationship with an S.B.A. Express Lender to access a bridge loan of up to $25,000.

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