Businesses encouraged to get help to survive a COVID-19 economy

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By BRENT MARTIN

St. Joseph Post

Time is running out for small businesses to apply for one of
the main federal programs designed to help businesses survive the COVID-19
economic slowdown.

Regional Director Rebecca Lobina with the Northwest Missouri
Small Business Development Center
reminds business owners plenty of money
remains in the Payroll Protection Program.

“The rules for the PPP have changed many, many, many times,”
Lobina says with a chuckle, “but I believe they’re pretty final now.”

The program offers a fully forgivable loan to small businesses
as long as at least 60% is used to keep employees on the payroll. The rest can
be used for mortgage interest, rent, and utilities.

Lobina says little time remains to apply for the money.

“If you’re still thinking it’s on the back burner and you
might use it later, later is now, because June 30th is the last day you
can apply and get the funds,” Lobina tells host Barry Birr on the KFEQ Hotline.

Initially, the program ran out of funds. Congress, though,
approved more money for it. Lobina says plenty of money remains in the program.

Though businesses have only today or tomorrow to apply for
PPP, other loans, tax credits, and even grants are available as well.

“But all of it is intended to help the business’ owners cash
flow so it is less than they have to pay out,” according to Lobina.

The Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) loan is a 30-year
loan with a 3.75% interest rate. Qualifying small businesses can also hold off
from paying their share of the Social Security tax through the remainder of
this year. The FFCRA Paid Leave Credit allows businesses to retain their
federal withholdings to cover the cost of qualified sick leave, including
health plan expenses. The Employment Retention Credit is available to
businesses with a decline in gross receipts of 50% or more due to COVID-19
restrictions, with a maximum credit of $5,000 per employee.

Lobina says a program the Small Business Administration has
run for decades could help area businesses struggling during this economy hammered
by the coronavirus. The SBA 7a Loan Program offers loans in which the SBA actually
pays the first six months payments for all 7a loans approved by the end of
September.

Also, loans and grants are available to businesses from the
City of St. Joseph and Buchanan County.