RI Small Businesses: Here’s What You Qualify For in the CARES Act

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act has a swath of provisions for small business owners. Here's what you need to know.
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Small business owners and private nonprofit leaders in Rhode Island, did you know: You can apply for a $10,000 economic relief grant — read: you don’t have to pay it back — and get the money within three days? Or you can get up to eight weeks of payroll loans forgiven by the federal government? Congress’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes immediate and long-term assistance for small businesses across the nation. Read on to see if you qualify.

The need: Funds to help keep your employees on staff
The program: Paycheck Protection Program
The brass tacks: Low-interest loans offer cash-flow assistance for employers to maintain payroll during the coronavirus outbreak. If employers maintain payroll, up to eight weeks will be forgiven (the program is retroactive to Feb. 15 so employers can bring back workers who may have already been laid off). After that time, the maximum interest rate is 4 percent with a maximum term of ten years
Who qualifies: Small businesses and nonprofits with 500 or fewer employees, including sole proprietors; independent contractors; self-employed individuals; cooperatives and employee-owned businesses; and tribal small businesses (must have been in operation on Feb. 15, 2020)
What doesn’t qualify: Employee/owner compensation over $100,000; compensation for employees whose principal place of residence is outside of the U.S.
More information: Visit sba.gov

The need: More capital for payroll and other operating expenses
The program: Emergency Economic Injury Loan
The brass tacks: Low-interest loans of up to $2 million to cover payroll and other operating expenses that would have been covered if the disaster had not occurred. Small businesses may apply for the Paycheck Protection Program as well, but both loans cannot be used to cover the same expenses during the same period of time.
Who qualifies: Small businesses with 500 or fewer employees; sole proprietors; independent contractors; self-employed individuals; cooperatives and employee-owned businesses; tribal small businesses; many nonprofits of any size; small agricultural cooperatives (must have been in operation since Jan. 31, 2020)
What doesn’t: Religious organizations
More information: Visit disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/ or visit sba.gov to find an SBA resource partner to help you navigate the application process.

The need: A quick infusion of cash to keep your business afloat
The program: Emergency Economic Injury Grant
The brass tacks: These grants provide an emergency advance of up to $10,000 to small businesses and private nonprofits within three days of applying for an Emergency Economic Injury Loan. You must first apply for the EIDL and then request the advance. The advance does not need to be paid back, though there may be some crossover with the Paycheck Protection Program. Should you pursue a PPP, any advance amount received would be subtracted from the amount forgiven in the PPP.
Who qualifies: Small businesses with 500 or fewer employees; sole proprietors; independent contractors; self-employed individuals; cooperatives and employee-owned businesses; tribal small businesses; many nonprofits of any size; small agricultural cooperatives (must have been in operation since Jan. 31, 2020)
What doesn’t: Religious organizations
More information: Visit disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/ or visit sba.gov to find an SBA resource partner to help you navigate the application process.

The need: Free high-quality guidance
The program: SBA Counseling
The brass tacks: The Rhode Island Small Business Development Center is offering virtual advising with business counselors for no cost. The programs can address financial planning, business plan development, market research, loan application development, branding, licensing and permits and more; other resource partners include the Women’s Business Center (WBC), or SCORE mentorships with volunteer business experts
Who qualifies: Any small business owner
More information: web.uri.edu/risbdc; awbc.org; score.org

For further reading on these programs, plus an SBA debt relief program and employee retention credits for employers subject to closure or experiencing economic hardship, check out the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship’s guide to the CARES Act or contact the Rhode Island district office of the Small Business Administration.

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