Promoting a healthy workplace

Pictured in this 2017 file photo, Richard Montanaro, director of the UGA Small Business Development Center in Rome, briefed local business owners on the availability of federal COVID-19 relief funds on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021.

There is still a significant pot of money available to assist small businesses in Rome that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Members of the Rome Floyd Chamber Small Business Action Council were briefed Tuesday on multiple opportunities for assistance by Richard Montanaro, director of the UGA Small Business Development Center’s Rome office.

They’ve pivoted their focus in the past year to help small businesses during the pandemic by piloting them toward financial assistance available from the government.

The office assisted more than 700 clients across the region last year — approximately a 60% increase from 2019.

The most recent federal assistance program, passed by Congress in late December, includes an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program.

Businesses that exhausted their first PPP funds and have also experienced a 25% reduction in revenue over the same period in 2019 can qualify for another full PPP loan.

“It can’t exceed $10 million and it can’t be for employers with more than 300 employees,” Montanaro said. “That’s not going to affect very many, but there will be a few businesses in Rome that get knocked out of that.”

Companies will still qualify for two and a half times their average monthly payroll in 2019. Montanaro explained that businesses in certain extremely hard hit sectors, such as food service and hospitality, may qualify for three and a half times their average payroll.

There is also a Small Business Administration debt relief program that is still available to companies with SBA loans in 2020.

“The SBA paid six months of payments, principal, interest and fees,” Montanaro said. “That is being extended. There is another three months available for most companies if they can demonstrate that they have been severely impacted by the crisis.”

The Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance program will continue to provide assistance to companies that can display a 30% economic loss of revenue.

With so much of the money tied to businesses that can display losses from the previous year, Chamber Director of Membership and Entrepreneurial Development Thomas Kislat asked what kind of assistance is available to new companies that don’t have year over year comparisons.

“If they borrowed money from the SBA 7A or 504 programs, or from a bank and have those (SBA) guarantees, those loans will get six months in interest and principal,” Montanaro said.

Businesses that were open by Jan. 31, 2020, will also be eligible for targeted COVID-19 EIDL advance program help.

“The second round of PPP even applies to companies that were in business by Feb. 15, 2020,” Montanaro said.

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