The world as we know it has been turned upside down. Many small business owners, non-profits, and sole proprietors had to completely shut their doors or drastically reduce hours back in March. Obviously, this put a great strain and hardship on many of our businesses here in Edmond.
On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Securities (CARES) Act, a $2.3 trillion relief package designed to help individuals and businesses weather the economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally, it allocated $349 billion in assistance to small businesses, but the program ran out of funds in just 13 days. Further legislation earmarked an additional $310 billion for PPP funding.
President Trump then signed into law the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act, which smooth’s the path for small-business owners to qualify for loan forgiveness. The loans are meant to help owners cover payroll costs, rent, and utilities as they restart their businesses because many were faced with difficult choices trying to adhere to the guidelines of the previous act.
If your small business won some of the billions of dollars in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, you now have longer to spend the money. It’s also easier to convert that loan into a grant so you won’t have to repay it.
Staying up to date on the rules
Staying up to date on the latest rules has been dizzying, to say the least, and with all the multiple amendments and clarifications to the original PPP rules released since the program’s inception business owners need easy, accessible information.
Here are six ways the law attempts to make using PPP loans easier:
- You now have 24 weeks to spend your funds, increased from eight weeks .
- You need to spend 60% of the loan on payroll, down from 75%.
- The covered period of the loan now ends Dec. 31 instead of June 30.
- You won’t have to make employer payroll tax payments through the end of 2020.
- Your business will not lose any loan forgiveness eligibility if you can show that some employees declined to return to their jobs or the pre-pandemic headcount is no longer required.
- The payback period for new loan applicants has been extended from two years to a minimum of five for those not seeking, or who are ineligible for, forgiveness.
Edmond’s very own, Jill Castilla of Citizens Bank of Edmond, is helping small business owners navigate their PPP forgiveness applications, regardless of the lender.
She has teamed up with Mark Cuban and with Teslar Software to launch PPP.Bank, a website dedicated to helping small businesses, non-profits, and sole proprietors across the nation manage the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness application. This free website offers a PPP forgiveness calculator while digitizing and easing the 11-page Small Business Administration (SBA) application.
“Our mission is to help simplify and ease access to the critical resources our national leaders provided through the CARES Act to support America’s small businesses during this difficult time,” said Jill Castilla, president and CEO of Citizens Bank of Edmond. “PPP.bank is a practical and secure tool that is available for anyone to use to navigate the lengthy PPP forgiveness application. There are no charges and no data collection – we get nothing in return as this is simply the right thing to do.”
With forgiveness eligibility beginning on May 29, a resource is needed to ensure small businesses, non-profits, and independent contractors have a simplified way to apply. Castilla applauded the leadership of state regulators and the Oklahoma congressional delegation as they are pursuing expansion of the eligible time frame and addressing expenses related to forgiveness. Teslar will continue to update the application to reflect any additional changes as timely as possible.
An early participant in the PPP process
The National Federation of Independent Business reports that more than half of business owners expect all expenses to be forgiven from their PPP loans, and 27% say they expect three-quarters of the loan to be forgiven under current guidelines. The website, PPP.bank, is available to any PPP loan borrower to get an estimate of the forgiveness for their loans and to generate a PDF application to share with their lender.
“PPP.bank allows business owners to more quickly move beyond the complicated, bureaucratic PPP forgiveness application and stay focused on what matters — keeping people employed and their doors open,” said Mark Cuban. “Better yet, we hope it helps the Small Business Administration take the next steps to simplify their application.”
Castilla has been invested in the PPP lending process since providing early-stage ideas to Congressional leaders and the Small Business Administration (SBA). Cuban first took note of Castilla’s efforts on CARES Act funding when Citizens Bank of Edmond announced it was establishing an overdraft program for customers waiting on their federal stimulus funds. He leveraged his social capital to support Citizens Bank of Edmond and to challenge other banks to adapt similar customer-support programs.
It led to multiple collaborations between Castilla and Cuban to help Americans navigate the complexities of the CARES Act federal funds to support small businesses and to include the latest PPP.bank site they built in partnership with Teslar Software, an Arkansas FinTech.
Joe Ehrhardt, CEO and founder of Teslar Software, added, “It’s important that we do everything we can to support Main Street’s revival after this trying time. Bankers are working to prepare for the forgiveness process, but in the meantime, borrowers are worried and need help. The site we developed and created together is an answer to that gap. By offering business owners an easy, automated method to calculate their forgiveness status, we can help bankers and everyone else involved in rescuing America’s small business owners.”
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About Selina McGee
Selina R. McGee, OD, FAAO, Diplomate, American Board of Optometry - Dr. McGee is the visionary founder of Precision Vision of Edmond, a boutique style eyecare practice that specializes in dry eye disease, specialty contact lenses, and aesthetics. She was also the co-founder of Precision Vision of Midwest City, an MD-OD practice specializing in premium IOL and cataract surgery.
She earned her OD degree from Northeastern State University College of Optometry, graduating Summa Cum Laude. She is a member of the Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians and the American Optometric Association. Currently she serves as the Immediate Past-President the OAOP. She was named Young Optometrist of the year in 2012 by the OAOP.