January brings new options to businesses and employees, albeit some for a limited time only. Coconino County’s dedicated staff continues to guide and assist business owners, employees and all residents to access resources as they become available. This article targets the resources that are most asked about, and often the most complex and ever-changing: forgivable business loans, the eviction moratorium, Unemployment Insurance and the COVID-19 vaccine. Please take a few moments to familiarize yourself with some of the websites listed, as they are comprehensive and continually updated with information specifically for Coconino County residents.
Banks have begun to attract inquiries from applicants for the second round of PPP Loans (Paycheck Protection Program), which are largely forgivable. The forgivable expense categories have been expanded to now include group insurance payments, cloud computing expenses, damaged property repair expenses and personal protective equipment for employees. And, tax deductions on PPP-funded expenses have been redefined. The forgiveness applications of these loans have been simplified, and businesses under 300 employees are eligible to take out a second (or first) PPP loan. Federal guidance for these PPP loans is being determined this month. Informational webinars are being held by the Coconino Small Business Development Center and Coconino County Economic Development office to inform businesses on: what exactly is a PPP loan, how to apply, what expenses qualify for forgiveness and how to apply for forgiveness. The first interactive session is scheduled for 2 p.m., Jan. 12. Register for this free webinar at: https://clients.azsbdc.net/workshop.aspx?ekey=110400106.
A one-month extension has been given to the renter eviction moratorium, which was originally set to expire Dec. 31, 2020, but now is in place through Jan. 31, 2021. Those seeking assistance with utility, rent or mortgage payments are strongly encouraged to visit: https://www.coconino.az.gov/2370/Food-Housing-and-Other-Resources/ where they can find applications for help, supportive housing services such as legal assistance and money-saving programs. It is important to remember that while renter moratoriums may stave off evictions for a short while, rent payments (past and future) are still due. Multiple professional organizations are assisting landlords and tenants with workable solutions to ensure that payments are made, and evictions and costly legal judgments are avoided.
Extensions to Unemployment Insurance and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (including for contract and gig workers) have been made for an additional 11 weeks. Increased payments to the weekly benefits of an additional $300 will expire in early March 2021, and this may help ease the financial burden for some. Those employees who have multiple jobs may also be eligible for a weekly boost of $100 through Unemployment Insurance. In order to know your eligibility, you need to apply, and you can find out how here: https://www.coconino.az.gov/2318/COVID-19-Employee-Related-Items. Knowing what you need to apply beforehand is important, as online portals are near capacity and calling the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) is difficult, as phone lines are over capacity. Taking 20 minutes to get your documents and information in order before you apply will save hours in frustration and time.
Staying informed about what is happening locally with regard to the COVID-19 vaccine is easiest when you get it directly from the source. The Coconino County Health and Human Services Department is receiving vaccine doses and distributing them as available using the prescribed distribution plan. You can find the most direct and latest information at coconino.az.gov/covid19vaccine.
Please consider contacting me directly, as a few moments on the phone can often uncover multiple opportunities when your individual or business situation is considered. FBN
By Chris Pasterz
Chris Pasterz is the economic development manager for Coconino County. Contact him: email@example.com or 928-679-7134.