New and second round PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loans are being made now, with a portion set aside ($25 billion) for smaller businesses with under 10 employees, or for loans of $250,000 or less. This is good news for Coconino County businesses. An eligibility prerequisite for these loans is showing a 25% or greater loans in revenue for any quarter in 2020 when compared to same quarter in 2019. Even if businesses were not able to access a PPP loan the first round, there are many community focused lenders (as opposed to your bank or credit union that may have refused your first application) that are taking, accepting and funding PPP loans with blazing speed and service. The best part about these zero-fee, 1% interest loans is that the funding spent on payroll, benefits, mortgage interest, rent, utilities, personal protective equipment, vandalism repair and certain supplier costs is forgivable. PPP loans are available to sole proprietors, independent contractors, the self-employed, small businesses and 501(c)3 non-profits. The PPP loan program is the closest thing to free money, and it certainly is the best money available now to your business. Look into it and apply before it is gone.
Unemployment insurance for those employees furloughed or laid off has received a boost of $300 per week, which is expected to expire March 13. Applying for unemployment can be difficult. Getting direct contact with Department of Economic Security staff is nearly impossible but the temporary boost to the weekly eligibility payments is worth the time for those not yet able to return to their jobs.
Unemployment Insurance is shaky and variable, and many prefer to find another job to replace lost family income. Arizona@Work has immediate job openings throughout Coconino County (117 are listed at the time of writing this article) that can be easily applied to by job seekers. Go to azjobconnection.gov to quickly search for available job vacancies. Additionally, employers seeking workers can also post job openings there for free, to quickly connect with local job seekers who are also linked into the Unemployment Insurance system.
Households that rent, or have federally-backed mortgages (USDA, FHA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, VA) now have a few more months to work through delinquent payment plans with mortgage holders and landlords. Households that can demonstrate an inability to pay rent/mortgage because of COVID-19 related loss of income are supported, as the Eviction Moratorium from the CDC is now extended until March 31, by Presidential Executive Order. While housing payments are still due to landlords and mortgage holders, resources are available to renters and owners to help them navigate the stressful housing situation brought on by the virus. Most families do not openly share their housing instability issues with neighbors, but as friends and family members, when you become aware of an issue, openly share that help is out there. A great place to start looking for housing stability assistance is Coconino County’s Food and Housing Resources webpage: coconino.az.gov/2370/Food-Housing-and-Other-Resources, which has links to hundreds of money-saving programs offered by community partners across Coconino County.
This month’s article focuses on the top three programs and resources based on the requests for information that I received during the prior month. Dozens of additional programs, grant funding opportunities and business support networks are available now. Every week, I receive calls from local business owners and employees looking to know more. I am happy to spend the time sifting through the details of your situation to help identify the best opportunities and resources. Please feel free to connect by telephone or email. FBN
By Chris Pasterz
Chris Pasterz is the economic development manager for Coconino County. Contact him: firstname.lastname@example.org or 928-679-7134.