MEDFORD >> During the COVID-19 crisis, small business owners are being encouraged to apply for hardship relief through the SBA (Small Business Administration) Government Disaster Assistance program.

Dennis Dovie, a financial consultant for Padden Cooper, LLC in Medford, said it’s important for businesses severely impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic to know that low-interest loans are being provided via the SBA Disaster Direct Lending Program - and that banks will not be involved in this specific program.

“There are some key points that people need to know,” Dovie explained. “The SBA is working closely with state governors and once a declaration is made for designated areas within the state, information on the application process for “The Economic Injury Disaster Loan” assistance program will be made available to all affected communities.”

He added that disaster loans will be available to non-profits as well, at a reduced interest rate.

“It’s anticipated that the available funding will be earmarked as operating capital to cover such things as debt payment, accounts payable and payroll,” Dovie said.

Here are some of the details:

*The SBA will be the direct lender. (Banks will not be involved.) 

* All applications will go directly to the SBA.

* All states have been approved for this program.

* Loan amounts available - up to $2 million.

* Rates - 3.75% for small businesses

               2.75% for non-profits

* Terms of the loans are up to 30 years, in order to spread out payments.

* Credit checks will be more flexible and any issues will be discussed directly with each applicant.

* There will be a one-year payment deferment from the approval date of the loan. (In other words, a one-year grace period is provided.)

* Payments on any existing SBA loans will be delayed until the end of 2020, starting with the March 2020 payment.

* The purpose of the disaster loan is for operational expenses and working capital (payroll, operating expenses, accounts payable, lease payments, etc.). It is not intended for lost profits or projected profits.

*  Eligible businesses are: small businesses, new businesses established in 2019 (they’ll need P&L and PFS), franchises, non-profits and tax exempt organizations.

* Not eligible are some religious organizations and the cannabis industry.

* When applying online, a 4506-P transcript will be needed. Also, applicants should have financial information available and be prepared to explain business loss (drop in sales, revenue drop, projected losses, contracts cancelled, etc.).

* A one-page industry certification for the particular industry will have to be completed. This is needed in order to determine eligibility.

* Applicants should check the box marked “economic injury” - not “physical damage.”

* There will be no prepayment penalty with this program.

* 2019 business returns need not be filed in order to apply.

* If the SBA disaster loan is approved, applicants will have the option to wait up to 60 days before accepting. This will provide time to review any potential better deals from stimulus packages pending.

“We’re encouraging small business owners to apply for the disaster loans, whether they think they’re eligible or not,” Dovie said. “Even if they don’t have all of the financial information available, they should start the process; it’s important not to delay.”

It’s also important to remember, Dovie said, that these are loans, not grants and they’ll have to be paid back. “But the rates and the terms are very favorable, so people should take advantage of it. It could save their businesses.”

To reach Dovie, email him at dennis@paddencooper.com or learn more at www.paddencooper.com/blog/.

For more information on Small Business Administration loans, call 1-800-659-2955, email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov, or go to https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources.

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