Jason Smith: Help is available for small businesses during COVID-19 pandemic

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Small businesses who are struggling to stay afloat during the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic can apply for  federal loan assistance.

On Friday April 3, the Greater Shreveport Chamber, along with the Bossier Chamber of Commerce, held their weekly chamber member webinar to receive updates regarding COVID-19.  

Topics that were discussed by speakers during the webinar included an update on applying for SBA loans, ppdate on Paycheck Protection Program, accounting requirements for PPP and Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Teleworking Tips and Tricks.

Citizens National Bank President Jason Smith gave an update during the webinar on the Paycheck Protection Program.

One of the major differences between the SBA loan and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is the fact that the PPP will go through your local bank. Not directly through the small business administration. Many, if not all, of the local banks are eligible to participate in the PPP, Smith said,

“I have been banking for 30-plus years and I cannot recall an experience that compares in any way with the experience that we have had at Citizens National Bank. That is a shared experience with my fellow lenders,” said Smith.

“Certainly the PPP program is a remarkably effective program that an awful lot of work has gone into. Unfortunately, even up to 11 o’clock today — which was the last time I had the chance to get an update from our team — there are still a number of questions about the specifics of the program. I would ask for your patience when you work with your lender. It’s best to work with them on the requests that they have. And if things change in the course of the program, don’t be surprised,” he added.

On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act. The CARES Act introduces the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) with $349 billion of federally guaranteed loans to support small businesses. The PPP is essentially a modified version of the SBA’s existing 7(a) loan program. The CARES Act also expands the EIDL program with $10 billion of additional funding for the SBA, including a very attractive $10,000 cash advance for applicants. Many small business owners facing COVID-19-related economic hardship should strongly consider these programs as a means to assist their working capital obligations.