SBA representatives give advice for businesses owners on how to get through COVID’s second wave, including financing options and planning for 2021. Panelists include John Mallano, SBA New York deputy district director, and Robert J. Piechota, manager of the SBA's Long Island office.

Long Island entrepreneurs and small-business owners facing financial struggles caused by COVID-19 should seek help now rather than later, a panel of Small Business Administration officials said.

"Go online, go on the [SBA] website and apply [for a loan], worse-case scenario, you don't qualify … best-case scenario, you might get a much-needed infusion for your business," Robert J. Piechota, manager of the SBA's Long Island office, said on a Newsday webinar aired Friday.

"Reach out to a resource partner like a Small Business Development Center, it won't cost you a nickel and can be of great help but make sure to do it now. Act today."

The coronavirus pandemic has capsized the economy and created countless challenges for small-business owners but local Small Business Development Centers are there to help, Piechota said during the webinar on "Business & COVID-19: How to plan for a second wave."

Clockwise from left, Newsday business reporter James T. Madore who...

Clockwise from left, Newsday business reporter James T. Madore who moderated a discussion with panelists John Mallano, deputy district director for U.S. Small Business Administration, and Robert J. Piechota, manager of the SBA's Long Island office. Credit: Newsday Live/Trotman-Wilkins, David

The webinar, co-sponsored by the Long Island Association, was moderated by Newsday business reporter James T. Madore, and was the last of the year in the Newsday/LIA Town Hall series, which in 2020 has focused mostly on the pandemic.

Long Islanders interested in submitting an Economic Injury Disaster Loan application — the deadline for a COVID-related application is Dec. 31 — should reach out now to groups like the Small Business Development Centers at Farmingdale State College and Stony Brook University, Service Corps of Retired Executives chapters (SCORE) and Women's Business Centers, said John Mallano, SBA New York deputy district director.

Piechota said the groups "can help you prepare a last minute EIDL application or alert you to another program perhaps at the state level … help you get the right forms, assist you in filling them out correctly and help you avoid mishaps or delays."

Additionally, SBA loan applicants should make sure to stay up-to-date with SBA.gov emails and contact the organization's disaster assistance customer service center at 1-800-659-2955 for help, Mallano said.

Piechota said business owners with questions about the status of their SBA loan application "should not leave it to chance."

"Put a query in to your local [SBA] office and check back every two weeks," he said.

Whether it's via phone or email, the goal is ongoing communication, he said.

And remember, he added: "Resource partners at Small Business Development Centers are always willing and happy to help."

Other financing programs available to small-business owners include the SBA's primary loan program, the "working capital" 7(a) loan, as well as the 504 loan, which provides small businesses with long-term, fixed-rate financing "to acquire real estate."

One last piece of advice for struggling small-business owners? "Look into microloan programs and microlenders. These are sometimes overlooked and can be helpful," Mallano said.

For more information on resources available for small-business owners, see nwsdy.li/resource.

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