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$5K Small Business Grants from US Chamber

Tom Sullivan, vice president of Small Business Policy for the United States Chamber of Commerce, spoke to the United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce during a Zoom meeting April 20 about different avenues for small businesses to receive cash infusions through grants and loans.

A $5,000 grant program for small businesses in economically vulnerable communities began taking applications just minutes after a representative from the United States Chamber of Commerce explained the program to the United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce in a Zoom meeting.

“The primary need for small businesses today is cash,” said Tom Sullivan, vice president of Small Business Policy for the United States Chamber of Commerce. “We are tremendously excited the U.S. Chamber has created this small business fund.”

The application process opened at 2 p.m. Monday, April 20, at smallbusiness.com. To be eligible, a company must have between 3-20 employees, be located in an economically vulnerable ZIP code, and have been harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

So far, the U.S. Chamber has committed $5 million to the program, but fundraising efforts with wealthy individuals and foundations should bring in more soon.

“We want this fund to last as long as possible,” Sullivan said. “The U.S. chamber is trying to educate as many small businesses as possible as to what help they have available. We don’t want any small business to decide to close its doors because it didn’t know the resources were there to help.”

Sullivan also updated the 65 people on the call on federal Small Business Association loan programs, both old and new, designed to help those affected by COVID-19 restrictions. Three COVID-19 relief packages approved by Congress in the past three weeks have pumped billions of dollars into those programs.

SBA programs include the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans and the Paycheck Protection Program. Sullivan made two very important points about both programs.

Another example of news happening so quickly it is hard to track, Congress announced it had reached an agreement on a fourth funding package while the chamber Zoom meeting was wrapping up. The new relief package would receive final approval on Thursday, April 23. Corpus Christi Chamber President John LaRue made that announcement while on the 1 p.m. call Monday.

“We’re certainly staying current on the news,” LaRue said. “We are already talking about new programs as they happen.”

The news was especially welcome for businesses wanting to apply for paycheck protection loans, as the program ran out of money last week. The Small Business Administration quit taking applications on April 16. The newest relief package is expected to pump another $300 billion into the program.

“When that happens later in the week, the pause in the program will turn into play again,” Sullivan said. “The main attractiveness of this program is that, once you get it, fast forward eight weeks and you can renegotiate with the bank, and if you can show 75 percent went to payroll and the rest to utilities, mortgage interest, rent, or interest on prior debt, that loan is forgiven and turns into a grant.”

Even if the business doesn’t qualify for the grant, the loan is only at 1 percent interest over two years.

“It’s a heck of a deal either way,” Sullivan said. “Either way, you are positioned to better withstand current conditions.”

For more tips on how to keep yourself, your workspace, and your home safe, visit the COVID-19 resources webpage at CCBizNews.com/covid-19. You’ll also find information on the latest news, closures, cancellations, and public orders along with informational links to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

If you think you have the coronavirus, please contact the Corpus Christi-Nueces County Public Health District at 361-826-7200, and a representative will give you instructions. Check the city’s webpage for more information.

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