The Biden administration has continued to work to ensure that the Small Business Administration (SBA) supports communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic, SBA Administrator Isabel Guzman said during a 30-minute interview.
“I think, of course, that starts with battling COVID and getting those shots in the arms and the great work we’ve done to try to vaccinate over half of the population,” Guzman said.
The administrator proved candid and intentional with her remarks during the exclusive interview with the NNPA, the trade association of the hundreds of newspapers and media companies that comprise the Black Press of America.
Tax credits, forgivable loans, grants and other funding categories remain available through the American Rescue Plan, Guzman noted.
“President Biden announced that his new goal is to have 70 percent of adults vaccinated by July 4,” Guzman said. “I think that for small businesses, it’s even as critical as some of the immediate relief because that will bring long-term revenues and marketplaces back.
“That is really critical for our business owners but there is a role they have to play in that there are tax credits available when your employees need to take time off to get their vaccination or if they are sick,” she said. “You can do paid leave and not let it cost you a dime because you’re going to get the tax credit on those payroll taxes.”
Guzman added that the SBA remains available to assist businesses in navigating the process and educating those unsure about how to receive aid.
She said the American Rescue Plan Act established the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) to provide funding to help restaurants and other eligible businesses keep their doors open. The program provides restaurants with funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss of as much as $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location.
Recipients are not required to repay the funding as long as funds are used for eligible uses no later than March 11, 2023.
“What was important to us was that we spoke with the industry first to understand what different communities were needing,” Guzman said. “We spoke with different ethnic chambers to see where their businesses were and we feel this is really one of the first programs we were able to put on as one of the priorities that I mentioned fully.
“The grants are available to businesses with up to 20 locations but the Biden-Harris administration recognized that equity is key as well as Congress,” she said. “So Congress put in a 21-day priority period for businesses owned by women, veterans, or the socially and economically disadvantaged Black-owned businesses.
“We wanted to make sure the smallest businesses were able to receive relief, so Congress approved $5 billion for smaller entities to access the program,” Guzman added. “We added another $4.5 billion so we have $9.5 billion of the $28.6 billion set aside for small businesses. There’s even a set aside for businesses like caterers, food trucks and food carts.”
Federal guidelines require that we provide the exact and equal information to each applicant, Guzman noted further.
“Therefore, SBA staff are limited on responses we can provide to applicants, including specific questions regarding RRF eligibility, potential award amount and other detailed information,” she said.
For more information, go to sba.gov.