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Small firms and nonprofits eligible for grants and loans in stimulus bill

Sen. Chuck Schumer, center, speaks about a plan

Sen. Chuck Schumer, center, speaks about a plan to save the many stages of Long Island at Mulcahy's in Wantagh in September.  Credit: Howard Schnapp

Small businesses and nonprofits would receive a total of $20 billion in economic disaster grants to help them survive the coronavirus pandemic under the stimulus package to be voted on by Congress.

The grants would be up to $10,000 per applicant based on the number of employees, according to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who helped negotiate the stimulus legislation as the Senate’s Democratic minority leader.

Called Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance grants, the funding to small businesses and nonprofits would equal the amount that was offered last spring: $20 billion, which was exhausted in less than four months. In the first round, $1.3 billion in grants were distributed to 453,924 applicants in New York State, records from the U.S. Small Business Administration show.

Paycheck Protection Program loans

Besides EIDL Advance grants, the stimulus bill would provide larger Paycheck Protection Program loans to restaurants, plus $15 billion in grants for live performance venues, independent movie and other cultural institutions with revenue declines of at least 25%.

Also, some apartment buildings, tourism promotion agencies and local media outlets would be eligible for the loans for the first time.

PPP loans are made by banks and other private lenders and are guaranteed by the federal government. The stimulus legislation is to authorize $285 billion in additional guarantees and Schumer expects New York borrowers to receive about $20 billion in loans.

PPP loans would again be forgivable if borrowers meet certain criteria. However, the size of a borrower's work force to qualify for the loan has been reduced to 300 employees or fewer from 500 or fewer, in some instances.

The original PPP applications process ended on Aug. 8, with $134 billion in federal loan guarantees unused and more than 66,000 borrowers on Long Island, records show.

The new stimulus aid provides "relief to small-business owners worried about going out of business," Schumer said on Monday. He said there are "set-asides for minority-owned and other underserved businesses, and new, larger forgivable loans for restaurants."

Help for entertainment venues

Schumer helped spearhead efforts to aid concert halls, Broadway theaters and independent movie theaters — some of which have been closed since the spring to slow the virus’ spread. In September, he held a news conference at Mulcahy’s Pub & Concert Hall in Wantagh to draw attention to the "Save Our Stages" campaign.

Mulcahy’s owner John Murray Jr. said Monday the grant program from SBA "is very much needed as we continue to navigate the plunge into debt." He said he has retained his full-time workers despite pandemic-related losses.

Movie theater owner Anne Stampfel said news of the stimulus package gave her "a little hope" but she wants to see more details.

"I don’t want another loan, I already got that," said Stampfel, who with her husband, Henry, operates the Malverne Cinema and Art Center and the Bellmore Movies and Showcase. "I don’t need more debt, thank you."

The revamped PPP would offer larger loan amounts to restaurants and other hospitality businesses: 3.5 times payroll compared with 2.5 times for other borrowers.

Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) said the additional help for restaurants "will provide much needed relief. … A lifeline to the small businesses that are so important to our community."

Aid for minority businesses

He and others said the stimulus package would make it easier for minority-owned businesses and those in low-income neighborhoods to receive help. For example, $15 billion would be directed to Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions to make loans.

On Main Streets across Long Island, entrepreneurs and chamber of commerce officials were cautiously optimistic that the stimulus bill would stave off more business closures as restrictions on nonessential activity are reinstituted in some areas.

"Many have closed their businesses for good and others are barely making it. … They fear more lockdowns," said Luis Vasquez, president of the Long Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Beth Wahl, president of the Chamber of Commerce of the Mastics and Shirley, agreed, saying small businesses in her area "cannot continue to pay rent, taxes, employees, etc., when they have little income. They need help, and it needs to be substantial," she said.

With David J. Criblez and Rafer Guzmán

COVID-19 STIMULUS FOR BUSINESSES 2.0

•$20 billion in Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance grants for small businesses nationwide

•$285 billion, including $20 billion for NYS, in Paycheck Protection Program loans

•Larger PPP loans for restaurants

•Paycheck Protection Program loans may now go to apartment buildings, tourism promotion groups, local newspapers, television and radio — some of which weren't eligible previously; greater access to loans for the smallest of small businesses

•$15 billion in grants for live theaters, music and entertainment venues, independent movie theaters and cultural institutions

•More than $15 billion in PPP loans and U.S. Small Business Administration microloans for minority-owned businesses and those located in low-income communities

SOURCES: Offices of the U.S. Senate Minority Leader and Speaker of the House of Representatives

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