In the most recent round of federal Paycheck Protection Program loans, the U.S. Small Business Administration is focusing its efforts on companies hardest hit by the pandemic, including minority, veteran and women-owned businesses.

Toward that end, the latest iteration of paycheck protection loans, which rolled out on Tuesday, Jan. 11, was limited to community financial institutions, to allow those smaller businesses an early chance to apply. The program fully opened to all small businesses days later, and, in the first week, the SBA has generated 60,000 PPP loans totaling more than $5 billion.

“Those are our primary focus in rolling out SBA’s program,” said Al Haut, district director for the SBA, in a Thursday business briefing with the North Dakota Department of Commerce.

Haut and Interim Director of the Department of Commerce Shawn Kessel gave updates on the most recent economics aid package, passed by Congress in late December. Those updates include:

  • The use of funds for “First Draw” PPP borrowers: For those companies that did not take out PPP loans in previous rollouts, the program has been expanded to include more operating expenses, supplier expenses and damage from civil unrest. The majority of the loan must still be spent on payroll and other approved costs. The loan maxes out at $2 million to ensure the allocated funds reach enough businesses in need. The loans may be forgiven by SBA if they are used in accordance with the program.
  • The PPP program will continue until March 31, or until the $900 billion set aside for those loans has been expended.
  • Eligibility for the program has been expanded to include 501(c)(6)s, housing cooperatives and destination marketing organizations.
  • “Second Draw” PPP loans also are available, but only for companies that have spent, or will soon spend, their first loan in accordance with the program’s rules. Companies must have fewer than 300 employees and have taken at least a 25% reduction in gross revenue or receipts for a comparable quarter when comparing 2020 to 2019. Businesses must contact their local lender to originate a PPP loan. The SBA can match a company with a lender, if it does not already have one. Second draw loans require specific paperwork that can be found at sba.gov/.
  • A simplified forgiveness application for loans less than $150,000 will soon be released by SBA. Also, PPP loans have been determined to not be included as taxable income, and expenses paid for with those funds are now tax deductible. Those with questions need to consult the IRS or their tax preparer.
  • A grant program for venues including live entertainment operators, movie theaters and museums will soon be coming. The grant can be used to cover operating expenses and will be administered directly through the SBA. A venue operator cannot have both a PPP loan and a grant. More information on the Shuttered Venue Operator Grant can be found at sba.gov/.
  • The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program has been extended through Dec. 31.