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Help for Small Businesses to Pay Bills and Employees Still Available

Chris Bolt/WAER News

Central New York businesses still hurting or closed due to the coronavirus pandemic can seek remaining federal funds to assist with bills and retain employees.  

You probably remember hearing about the Paycheck Protection Program … well it still has over $120 billion  for loans, according to officials with the Small Business Administration.   Regional Administrator Steve Bulger encourages just about any kind of business with 500 workers or fewer, to apply. 

“Overall, I would say 99% of small businesses will be eligible … and if you haven’t taken advantage, the program is open.  We really want small businesses to take advantage of it, especially if you’re a sole proprietor.” 

He explains many sole proprietors might have taken enhanced unemployment, but the extra $600 a week runs out at the end of July. 

There have been some changes in the PPP; now only 60% of the funds have to be used for payroll, leaving the balance of a loan for other bills.  You can’t use the money for any kind of speculation, or in a gambling or marijuana business.  But Bulger says other aspects, such as forgiving all or part of the loan, are still in place.

“In the CNY area, small business centers, women’s business centers, SCORE volunteer mentors … are happy to walk an applicant through the process and give some best practices to ensure that you’re putting your small biz in the best possible place to get your loan 100% completely forgiven.”

He has seen a drop-off in the number of businesses seeking the loans.  What used to be a shortage of supply compared to demand for help has turned around.  But Bulger says that doesn’t mean businesses are back on solid footing.

“Look, we’re all seeing it; this virus is not going away.  So, here at SBA we think we’re going to be involved with a lot of different programs … even additional resources and from the administration.”

The Small Business Administration reports that more than 9,000 companies received Paycheck Protection Loans within the 24th congressional district that includes Syracuse … and Bulger says that’s helped an estimated 190,000 people continue to get a paycheck.  The Program will be open for new applications through August 8th. 

This story has been updated with copy corrections.

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.