The St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce presents: Coronavirus Impact Insights
On this episode of Chamber Coronavirus Impact Insights, Jason Mathis, CEO of the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership, joins Chris Steinocher, CEO of the St. Petersburg Chamber and Joe Hamilton, Publisher of the St. Pete Catalyst to discuss the new Paycheck Protection program.
The Paycheck Protection Program, which is part of the massive $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, known as the CARES Act, allows companies to borrow federal money to cover ten weeks of costs.
The maximum amount a company can borrow is based on its average monthly payroll cost in 2019. Costs include wages for employees making less than $100,000, and expenses for paid sick leave, health care and other benefits, multiplied by 2.5. The maximum loan size available is $10 million.
The program is offered to small businesses with fewer than 500 employees, but also to self-employed workers, “solopreneurs,” freelancers and gig economy workers – as long as they have been in operation before February 15, 2020.
These loans can be forgiven in their entirely, if certain criteria are met, including keeping the same number of employees, and using the loan proceeds for payroll, rent, utilities, health insurance premiums or other healthcare costs.
According to Mathis, who spoke with local St. Petersburg bankers, local banks are still figuring out how to roll out the program, which became law Friday. He reminds business owners that no collateral is needed for these loans, as they’re guaranteed by the federal government, and suggests that interested businesses reach out to their banker as soon as possible.
Another important note: Receiving this assistance does not preclude employers from receiving Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans, state or local assistance. The City of St. Petersburg is working on a small business loan, called Fighting Chance, which is poised for release this week. The St. Petersburg Arts Alliance and Creative Pinellas have also teamed up to create a working artist loan program.
The hallmark of this community is generosity of spirit, compassion, creativity and coming together in a cohesive way,” Mathis says. “And you think about the communities that are going to come out of this successfully, that will be stronger after this crisis … I really feel positive about St. Petersburg and our ability to weather this storm, and come out on the other side even stronger, more resilient and cohesive than we have in the past.”