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Small Business Development Centers Answer Your Questions About Getting Coronavirus Help

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The Small Business Administration has several programs for companies in need of coronavirus-related aid. (Screenshot: Small Business Administration website)
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Small business owners impacted by coronavirus have told me they're having a tough time applying for the Paycheck Protection Program, the federal loan program designed to help them.

Fortunately, there are organizations that can help: Small Business Development Centers.

Most days at 3 p.m., the Orange County Inland Empire Network and the Los Angeles Network of the Small Business Development Center spend an hour answering questions from business owners about how to get a loan under the federal Paycheck Protection Program and other government assistance.

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On Tuesday, April 7, I listened in. Here's what I heard

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(Note: Things are changing fast, so if you want the latest information on getting aid, considering signing up for one of the webinars):

Q: What is the difference between the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL) and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)?

A: EIDL is a loan that covers six months of operational expenses and is administered by the Small Business Administration. Up to $10,000 may be forgivable.

PPP is a loan that covers two months of payroll and is administered by banks. If you use 75% of the loan on payroll, it is forgivable.

Q: I applied for an EIDL and haven't heard back. What's up?

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A: If you applied before March 30, apply again so you can get the additional $10,000 forgivable loan. Otherwise, it can take 2 to 3 weeks to get your money.

Q: How can I find a list of banks that will lend me money under PPP?

A: Try your bank first. You can also find a lender here.

Q: Wells Fargo isn't accepting new PPP applications. Is there a list of banks that will work with non-customers?

A: There's no official list. But Fortune Magazine made one.

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Q: I'm an independent contractor/sole-proprietor. Can I apply for PPP?

A: Yes, beginning April 10. You can also apply for unemployment, although California may not be processing unemployment applications for independent contractors yet.

Q: When I calculate payroll for EIDL or PPP, can I include independent contractors?

A: No. You only include employees on your payroll.

Q: Will the PPP still be forgiven if I need to hire new employees?

A: Yes. As long as you spend 75% of your PPP loan on payroll it will be forgiven.

Q: I already laid off some people. Do I have to rehire all of them under the PPP?

A: No. You don't have to re-hire the same number of employees, or even the same people. You just have to use 75% of your PPP loan on payroll for it to be forgiven.

Q: How do you prove that you used your PPP loan for payroll?

A: We don't know. But there may be an audit down the line.

Q: I have cash employees. Can I count them on my payroll when I apply for PPP?

A: Only if they are reporting their income to the IRS.

Q: Do owner's draws count towards payroll under the PPP?

A: It's unclear. There have been mixed messages from SBA.

Q: I just started my business in 2020. Can I apply for PPP?

A: Yes!

Q: I'm not a citizen or a permanent resident. Can I apply for PPP?

A: Yes, as long as you have an ITIN. (Note: KPCC/LAist spoke with one lender who is advising undocumented business-owners not to apply for PPP because of questions five and six on the application form, which ask about criminal history.)

Q: Has anyone gotten their PPP loans yet?

A: As of Tuesday, April 8, the SBDC representatives on the call said they were not aware of anyone receiving money yet.

Q: How can I listen to one of these webinars in the future?

A: Sign up here.