The Small Business Owner's Guide to PPP and COVID-19 Relief Funding

We’re keeping this up to date to help you through COVID-19.

Last update was October 12, 2021.

Everything You Need to Know About SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness

PPP loan applications officially closed on May 31, 2021 as the funds available allocated by the government were exhausted shortly sooner than many analysts predicted originally. It’s essential to know that existing borrowers may be eligible for PPP loan forgiveness, meaning they do not need to be repaid (read: free money)

In this article, we will explore how PPP loan forgiveness works, how you can apply, and everything else you need to know about the program.

SBA Options for COVID-19 Relief

First Draw Paycheck Protection Program (PPP Round 1) Funding

Applications open (but funds have officially been exhausted as of May 5, 2021)

Perhaps the most well-known pandemic relief funding is the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (or PPP). Applications for the PPP are open until May 31, but funds have already run out. First draw PPP is for businesses who have not yet received PPP funding.

Second Draw Paycheck Protection Program (PPP Round 2) Funding

Applications open (but funds have officially been exhausted as of May 5, 2021)

Businesses who have already drawn a round of PPP qualify for second draw PPP. Second draw PPP faces the same issues as first draw PPP: although applications are open until May 31, funds are no longer available.

Restaurant Revitalization Fund

Applications closed

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) is designed to help restaurants and other eligible businesses (including bars, food trucks, and bakeries, among others) get back on their feet after over a year of shutdowns and reduced capacity. If approved, the RRF will provide restaurants with “funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss up to $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.”

Applications closed on May 24, 2021.

Shuttered Venue Operators Grant

Applications closed August 20, 2021

For live venue operators, theaters, museums, and other eligible venue operators that were particularly impacted by shutdowns during coronavirus, the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) can be a good option. There is one caveat: if you received a PPP loan on or after December 27, 2020, you will have the SVOG reduced by the PPP loan amount.


Community Navigator Pilot Program

Applications open

The SBA's new Community Navigator Pilot Program was established as part of the American Rescue Plan. It's designed to reach those who have been hardest hit by the pandemic — "the smallest of the small" businesses in rural and urban areas, as well as those owned by women, people of color, Native Americans, and veterans. The Community Navigator Pilot Program will provide networking, counseling, and other support, in addition to $1 million to $5 million grants for a two-year performance period. Applications are open through grants.gov, and recipients will be announced in August with a period commencement of September 2021.

SBA Debt Relief

No action required

If you have an existing 7(a), 504, or Microloan SBA loan, then there is no action required to take part in the SBA debt relief program. As a part of the CARES Act, the SBA is authorized to pay six months of principal, interest, and any associated fees that borrowers owe on qualifying loans. Note that these do not include PPP or other COVID-19 relief.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Grant

Applications open until December 31, 2021, or until funding is exhausted

The Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Grant is designed to provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue due to the pandemic. In order to qualify, businesses need to have suffered a revenue loss greater than 30% over specified time periods, be located in a low-income community, employ no more than 300 employees, and have been in operation before January 31, 2020. To learn more, read our full guide to the EIDL grant.


As of September 8, 2021, the SBA has updated several of the COVID EIDL policies. These include use of funds, which was expanded to include payment and pre-payment of business non-federal debt incurred at any time (past or future) and payment of federal debt. The deferment period was also increased to to 24 months from origination for all loans, including existing ones, which will automatically be adjusted.

In addition, as of September 8, 2021, the loan amount has increased, capping out at $2 million. Starting October 8, 2021, all loans will be for amounts between $800,000 and $2 million. In addition to this, EIDL applicants will be eligible for the Targeted EIDL Advance and Supplemental Targeted Advance if they meet certain requirements. These advances act similarly to a grant, in that they do not have to be repaid, and businesses don’t even have to be approved for an EIDL loan to receive it. Here’s a quick breakdown of the Targeted EIDL Advance requirements.

Targeted EIDL Advance
- For applicants of the COVID EIDL grant (not regular EIDL)
- Provides up to $10,000
- Must be located in a low-income community, as defined by the SBA
- Must demonstrate 30% or more reduction in revenue during an eight-week period beginning on March 2, 2020, or later.
- 300 or fewer employees

Supplemental Targeted Advance
- Must have completed the Targeted EIDL Advance application
- Must be located in a low income community
- Must prove a 50% or more income loss beginning on March 2, 2020, or later, compared to the same period of the previous year
- 10 or fewer employees
- Agricultural businesses are not eligible for the supplemental advance

Last Word on the SBA Funding Programs

There are a lot of options available through the SBA for COVID-19 relief, and many businesses may qualify for more than one grant or loan. Before you apply, be sure to check your cross-program eligibility. Also keep in mind that the SBA doesn’t fund loans; their funding partners do. Be sure to talk to your lender about fund availability and which options are right for you.

Other Federal Assistance Programs

Employee Retention Credit

Available through December 2021

For many small businesses, employees can be closer to family. The Employee Retention Credit is available for businesses with less than 100 employees who have either seen revenues decline or been at least partially closed during COVID-19, and have kept their employees on payroll. For the rest of 2021, the Employee Retention Credit allows you to claim up to $28,000 per employee ($7,000 per quarter), which can go a long way in keeping your whole team on payroll.

Paid Leave Credit

Available through September 2021

During a pandemic, your employees are likely going to need to take more sick time and paid leave to care for themselves and others in the case of illness. Through September 30, 2021, you can claim paid leave due to pandemic-related illness or consequences dollar for dollar (and you can even claim the credit quarterly) through the Paid Leave Credit.

The Paid Leave and Employee Retention Credits aren’t the only tax credits available. Check out our full list of COVID-19 relief tax credits. Some of the credits on this list have been extended through 2022, and some are always available. Be sure to check with your accountant to see what you qualify for.

CDFI Rapid Response Program

Closed

The Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI) Rapid Response Program was designed to provide grants in underserved communities that had been hard-hit by coronavirus. Applications are closed as of March 2021, but the CDFI always has grants and other opportunities available for distressed and underserved communities and people.

Last Word on the CDFI Funding Programs

Like the SBA, the CDFI Fund doesn’t loan directly to small businesses; instead, it relies on a network of CDFIs, which include banks, credit unions, and venture capital funds. CDFIs typically service underserved people and communities, and they do so even under non-pandemic-related circumstances. To find a certified provider, check out the CDFI database, and contact a funding partner directly to see if you qualify.

State and County COVID-19 Relief

Availability varies
Many individual states and counties offer COVID-19 relief. For example, Florida has the Rebuild Florida Business Loan Fund, and Los Angeles has a microloan program through the Economic Workforce and Development Department (EWDD). Some programs are closed, but some are still providing funding. Check your local county offices, local SBA offices, and Chamber of Commerce to see if there are programs available for COVID-19 relief. Note that unfortunately not every office and department has a website; you may need to call.

Grants and Flexible Loans for Small Business

In addition to pandemic-related relief, there are grants and loans with special terms that small businesses can take advantage of all year round.

Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)

Always open

The LISC provides flexible loans for those in underserved communities. They typically finance development projects such as for rental housing, schools, and healthcare facilities. However, they can also help with leasehold improvements, remodel and/or expansion, and fixtures, furniture, and equipment with their Leasehold Improvement/ FF&E Loans. That can be a major win for brick and mortar businesses.

FedEx Small Business Contest

Applications closed

Applications are currently closed, but FedEx holds a small business contest every year where businesses can compete for grants and FedEx Office print services. Though the contest receives thousands of entrants, there are multiple winners every cycle.

National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) Grants

Applications always open for members only

NASE offers Growth Grants in the amount of $4,000 every month to one winner. The only catch is that you need to be a member. Membership costs $120 per year and includes access to resources that can help you grow your business.

Street Shares

Applications currently closed (Veterans only)

Street Shares has their Veteran Small Business Award through the Street Shares Foundation. Applications are currently closed, but last year, three awards were given in $4,000, $6,000, and $15,000 amounts.

Grants.gov

Availability varies

There are many, many grants available to small businesses in all niches and growth stages.

Grants.gov has a robust database that you can search by keywords, eligibility, category, and more. Eligibility requirements and application deadlines vary.

Last Word on COVID-19 Relief Funding

COVID-19 has hit small businesses hard. Unfortunately, there are so many businesses that need financial relief that many of the pandemic-specific related funding has either dried up or will go away soon. That’s not to say you shouldn’t apply anyway — rather, you should be aware of all of your options and try to diversify your efforts. If all else fails, there are always business credit cards and other loan products that, used responsibly and strategically, can help get you through these difficult times. Good luck out there, we’re rooting for you!

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