New York, NY—Many small businesses are asking about the benefits they will be entitled to as a result of the recently enacted $900 billion coronavirus relief bill. The Chief of Staff for Congresswoman B. Maloney’s (D-12) New York Office answered some questions during a recent meeting of Community Board 8’s Small Business Committee.

Shelby Garner first discussed some provisions of the new relief bill, which includes another round of the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), both funded by Congress but administered by the Small Business Administration.

“The PPP and the Economic Injury Disaster Loans program that were part of the CARES Act back in March—those programs are being extended. There are certain changes that hopefully will be beneficial for small businesses in Community Board 8’s area and throughout the city,” said Garner.

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He noted that the money set aside for the programs will be disbursed to businesses that employ fewer than 10 employees, as well as for minority- and women-owned businesses.

“The number of non-payroll expenses that are covered in this new round has been expanded—so, for example, investments in cloud applications or software, as well as accounting costs incurred can be covered,” Garner said.

A 60/40 percent split applies: 60 percent has to go towards payroll costs for the full forgiveness amount, but now 40 percent can go towards mortgage payments, rents, utilities, protective personal equipment and also any expenses that were related to meeting federal or relevant local health guidelines.

In addition, additional grants worth up to $10 million will be available vis-à-vis the EIDL for venues such as theaters, live arts performances, certain museums and comedy clubs. There’s also the possibility of a second grant that will disburse up to 50 percent of what the initial grant disbursement was.

“In the first 14 days of the program, those grants are going to be open to venues who can demonstrate 90 percent reduction in revenue, and then after that in the next 14 days it will be extended to venues that can demonstrate a 75 percent reduction,” said Garner.

According to Garner, a lot of the measures for SMBs in the new coronavirus relief bill were meant to keep what was the strongest and most beneficial aspects of last year’s CARES Act. And supposedly the paperwork has been streamlined so that money goes out the door more quickly.

“In terms of getting that money to SMBs, [the Small Business Administration] is going to be streamlining the application; for the smaller loans and the smaller PPP loans that are convertible to grants, the application is now going to be a one-page application.”

Then Garner fielded questions from the participants. Matthew Bauer of the Madison Avenue Improvement District told Garner that many small businesses on the Upper East Side during the first round of PPP tried to get the loans through bigger financial institutions only to be encouraged by the bigger banks to seek out community development financial institutions.

So, Bauer asked Garner with the new round of PPP how is the choice of banking and lending institutions being managed.

Garner responded by saying if an SMB has a long-term relationship with a bank, that should be the first place they go. But, he added, because of complaints from SMBs that they were shut out from the loans from larger commercial banks during the first round, the second round includes two set asides of $15 billion each for CDFI’s and credit unions.

“So, if you are a smaller business, I would encourage you to look at those mission-driven lenders because they seem to be, at least in the first round, much more amenable to processing smaller business loan applications in a way that the commercial banks were certainly supposed to,” said Garner.

He also noted that the House of Representatives was cognizant of SMB’s woes in the first round so it subsequently fought hard for the two set asides of $15 billion each for CDFI’s and credit unions to be included in the final coronavirus relief bill.

Then Garner was asked by one of the chairs of the Small Business Committee, Alida Camp, whether if there is any interest in Congress to provide rent relief to small businesses.

Two days ago, the Senate was in Republican hands, which at the time the committee hosted the meeting seemed to be a heavy lift, said Garner. Nonetheless, he said on the local level there is going to be a big push to try to get significant federal financial assistance to states and municipalities so that they have the flexibility to implement rent-relief programs.

“I do think that New York City is in a rarified area in which rent really is such a bigger part of business expenses compared to nationally where payroll is usually a much bigger expense,” said Garner.

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