August 2021 Covid Relief Updates

There’s been some changes in the SBA Covid Relief Programs recently. Read below to learn more about these changes and how they might impact your business.

PPP Loan Forgiveness

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan period ended May 31, 2021. Existing borrowers may be eligible for loan forgiveness for all of their PPP loan. Loan forgiveness for both First and Second Draw PPP loans are available if the following criteria is met:

  • Employee and compensation levels were maintained for the 8-24 week covered period.
  • The loans were spent on payroll and other eligible expenses.
  • At least 60% of the proceeds went to payroll costs.

Businesses can apply for loan forgiveness as soon as all the loan proceeds have been used.

Many lenders have signed on to the Direct Forgiveness Portal set up by the SBA to streamline the loan forgiveness process. You can download an Excel spreadsheet HERE to see if your lender has signed up for the Direct Forgiveness Portal. Contact your lender directly for their loan forgiveness program if they have not joined the portal. All businesses applying for forgiveness will have to submit information regarding the use of the PPP loan proceeds they received. You can read more about what documentation you will need to provide HERE.

Shuttered Venue Operators Grant

Note: The deadline to apply for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) is Friday, August 20, 2021 at 11:59pm Pacific Time. Later in August, those that receive an SVOG will be able to apply for a supplemental grant up to 50% of the original award amount.

The SVOG is available to businesses that support the arts, including venues with live music or performing arts. Businesses that received PPP loans are eligible to apply for the SVOG grant. You can download the Frequently Asked Questions PDF HERE.

Eligible applicants may be able to receive grants up to 45% of their gross earned revenue up to a maximum of $10 million.

Employee Retention Tax Credit

The Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) was created as part of the CARES act to encourage employee retention during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ERTC allows qualified business to claim up to 70% of the first $10,000 in pay and health benefits in each quarter for which they qualify.

It has been extended several times and was set to expire December 31, 2021. The current national infrastructure bill that is before Congress now would end the ERTC early, changing the expiration date to September 30, 2021 if the bill passes before then.

Businesses may also apply retroactively for the credit for previous quarters dating back to the beginning of the pandemic. A rule change also allows businesses who received PPP loans to claim the ERTC and can be claimed retroactively as well. In addition, “recovery startup businesses” (being those that opened after February 15, 2020) will still qualify for the ERTC until the end of the year.

PPP Direct Loan Forgiveness Portal Opens Aug. 4

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has announced that it has created a PPP Direct Loan Forgiveness Portal to streamline the process by which small businesses who received less than $150,000 can apply for loan forgiveness. Over 600 banks have opted in to use the new portal created by SBA and other lenders are being encouraged to join. Borrowers should check with their lending institution to verify whether it will be using the PPP Direct Loan Forgiveness Portal.

The new portal will begin accepting applications on Wednesday, August 4, 2021. The portal can be accessed HERE! There is also a user guide for the new portal HERE!

The SBA has also created a PPP customer service team to answer questions and assist borrowers in with their forgiveness applications. The customer service team can be reached by calling (877) 552-2692. Hours for customer service are Monday-Friday, 8:00am-5:00pm Eastern.

SBA Re-Opens EIDL For Ag Biz Only

Hands holding a cut apple
Hands holding a cut apple
Photograph by Larvick Media

When the SBA first started offering Economic Impact Disaster Loans (EIDL) with an associated cash-advance to help counter the impact of the Corona virus on small businesses, farm-based businesses were disqualified from applying. Farming advocates were hopeful that the USDA was going to provide financial relief to those businesses as prescribed by the CARES Act, but the roll-out of such relief remains to be seen.

SBA’s Corona-relief programs have faced enormous demand, and congress had to recently add more resources to the programs to keep them running (PPP & EIDL). The demand for the EIDL loans was so great that the SBA ran out of funds long before all the applications were assessed. When the CARES 2 Act, as it’s sometimes called, provided more funding for EIDL, the queue of unprocessed applications was so long the SBA decided to keep the application closed.

Recently, the SBA has decided to reopen applications but for agricultural businesses only. The Small Business Act defines agricultural enterprises as “businesses engaged in the production of food and fiber, ranching, and raising of livestock, aquaculture, and all other farming and agricultural related industries.” Eligible agricultural businesses must have 500 or fewer employees. There are two qualifying questions when applying for an EIDL. The first question asks what type and size of business you are applying for. “Applicant is an agricultural enterprise with not more than 500 employees” is one of the options.

Reopening of EIDL is good news for apple suppliers, orchards, farm-stand cideries and other agricultural enterprises in the cider industry.

The EIDL application for agricultural enterprises is available here.

ACTION ALERT: Low-interest loans are helpful, but much more is needed to support the cider community. Congress needs to be reminded that this industry is in dire need of support.

As one of our members recently shared: “Our sales are down 60%. I’ve had to furlough 92% of our staff….It’s a sink or swim in dangerous water situation, and our elected officials need to know.”

Read more about what the American Cider Association and Craft Beverage Coalition are asking for: