By Jay Bemis | Advertising Systems Inc.
Now that National Small Business Week, Sept.12-18, is upon us, this might be a good time for small business owners to learn what resources are available from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), including COVID-19 relief.
The SBA started Small Business Week 50-plus years ago and acknowledges “this year is one unlike the half-century that has come before.” Appropriately, the theme for this year’s commemorative week is “resilience and renewal” — as some businesses continue to struggle with economic pains inflicted by a global pandemic.
Events that the SBA is sponsoring this year include a three-day virtual summit with such speakers as Jose Andres, the chef and restaurateur who founded the World Central Kitchen; Mark Cuban, internet entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, and, entertainer Jennifer Lopez, known for her help in building billion-dollar brands as well as her philanthropic activity.
“Additionally,” the SBA says, “this year’s NSBW will recognize the small businesses who have navigated the coronavirus pandemic while supporting their employees and communities.”
More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, the SBA says. Overall, small businesses create nearly two out of every three new jobs in the United States each year.
What Does the SBA Offer for New Businesses?
Victoria Guerrero, an SBA district director for south Florida, recently outlined some of the programs that the agency offers in a video interview with Alignable, the small business support group that offers connections across 30,000 local communities.
New businesses trying to gain capital but are having a tough time with private banks can turn to the SBA, which long has backed loans to help those businesses get started, Guerrero told Alignable.
She says various loan programs are available. “If you need a loan to buy a building or to buy equipment, or to hire more people … we can guide you to that particular program and work with the banks to be able to get you approved.”
The SBA itself is not a bank, Guerrero notes. “We are not the lender of record when it comes to these programs, but we will guarantee those loans with the bank so the bank will feel more secure in providing you with those fundings.”
What COVID-19 Relief Programs Are Available?
Some small businesses probably are aware of the Paycheck Protection Program that SBA offered in the midst of the pandemic. That program expired at the end of May, but Guerrero did explain one program that is still available through the SBA until the end of this year: the Economic Injury, Disaster Loan program, or EIDL.
“This is a traditional loan in the sense that it does have to be paid back, but the good thing is it’s over a 30-year period,” Guerrero said. The EIDL loans come with a 3.75% interest rate for profit entities and a 2.75% interest rate for nonprofits.
“You can use the funds of this loan to pay for your business expenses (or) any commercial or federal business expenses that you’ve received,” Guerrero said. “You can use it for payroll. You can use it for anything that is associated with your business, which is great.”
More about the EIDL and other COVID-19 relief programs — including a restaurant revitalization fund and an SBA debt relief program for existing borrowers — are outlined here on the SBA’s website.
Guerrero said small business owners may want to look at the services that they provide and see if there’s a way that they can expand their services “or pivot a little bit” during these trying times.
“We saw this a lot with restaurant owners,” she told Alignable. “People couldn’t come to the restaurants so they got a little bit creative, and they decided to start doing takeout.
“If business owners can think outside the box and see how they can deliver their services and products in ways that they’ve never thought about in the past, that might be a lifeline for them.”