Businesses struggle navigating economic relief

John Orona
Special to the Sierra Sun


Payment Protection Program — Forgivable loan program for small businesses, self-employed, independent contractors, and nonprofits with a maximum of 500 employees. Up to $10 million for businesses that use the funds for allowable expenses such as mortgage interest, rent, utilities and maintaining at least 75% of payroll costs.

Unemployment benefit guidelines — Guide on which benefits people are eligible for and how to apply.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance — Unemployment program for people who are business owners, self-employed, independent contractors, have limited work history, and others who would not normally be eligible for state unemployment insurance benefits.

Resources for employees — Guidelines and assistance for workers.

Resources for employers — Guidelines and assistance for business owners.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan — Loan advance up to $10,000 for businesses temporarily experiencing difficulties. Additional funding will allow more applications to be processed, but those already in line from previous rounds will get assistance first. People who applied before March 30 are encouraged to reapply if they did not receive a response. Debt relief is also available to those who already have loans with this program.

Disaster Relief Loan Guarantee Program — Up to $50,000 in loans for small businesses with fewer than 750 employees in declared disaster areas. The loans will be dispersed directly from participating lenders. California Capital is the participating lender in this area and can be reached at 916-442-1729.

Residents and business owners reeling from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and looking for any relief available are finding it complicated to navigate what resources are provided.

On the federal and state level, economic relief programs meant to help keep businesses afloat such as the Paycheck Protection Program and emergency disaster funds have been difficult to secure and at times have been marred by administrative issues and overwhelming demand.

Locally, the Sierra Business Council is working with small businesses to help them navigate applications, determine what help is available to them and counsel business owners on how to survive if they don’t receive any additional funding.

According to Sierra Business Council Vice President Kristin York, very few businesses locally received support and the ones that did made their paperwork very easy for banks to process, highlighting the need to prepare in potential, subsequent rounds of funding availability. After running out of funding earlier this month, an additional $310 billion was allocated last week for the Paycheck Protection Program, which began processing applications again Monday.

However, York cautioned that due to the astronomical demand it may still be difficult to get funding even in coming rounds, and people may have to look to non-traditional fund raising.

“If you have not already put an application in, it probably won’t be your bank to fund to you,” York said of the latest round of Small Business Administration loans. “The loans were basically committed before most people could get their applications in.”

According to York, about 10% of businesses that applied successfully secured funding, with an average award of less than $200,000, mostly disbursed from local community banks. About 15% of businesses statewide received funding, averaging just under $300,000 each.

York encouraged businesses to consult with the council and take advantage of their experience for navigating the fluctuation aid landscape.

Nevada County has initiated a fiscal partnership with the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation to oversee an emergency community relief fund for small businesses and nonprofits. The fund was seeded with $100,000 from the county, which hopes to raise enough funds to help enterprises reinvest in staying afloat in the new economy with social distancing guidelines anticipated to stay in place for the foreseeable future.

The county also formed a business task force to discuss best practices and spread the word about resources for the businesses.


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Coronavirus Guidance for Businesses/Employers

Nevada County Relief Fund for Covid-19

John Orona is a staff writer for The Union, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun.

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