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SBA disaster loans topic of chamber virtual meeting

By Staff | Apr 30, 2020

PHOTO PROVIDED Althea Harris

Along with other members of the Southwest Florida Chamber Alliance and Lee County Horizon Council, the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce hosted a virtual meeting on April 27 featuring Althea Harris, the supervisory lead economic development specialist for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s South Florida District Office.

Just as the second round of federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) forgivable loans opened that morning, Harris reminded over 200 Zoom viewers of its stipulations and benefits. She encouraged them to apply through one of the more than 5,000 SBA-regulated lenders nationwide, later recommending small community and regional banks and credit unions over large corporate banks.

Harris cautioned borrowers under the program that they must retain the same amount of employees as they had on the payroll when applying for the loan, even if they are not the same original employees.

She also outlined the terms of SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), which is also expected to reopen with a new influx of federal funding.

“You can apply for this loan and the PPP,” Harris said.

She added that recipients, however, cannot use both for the same costs. In other words, EIDL loan funds cannot be used for payroll expenses if the business is using a PPP loan.

Harris provided SBA tools for keeping in contact with the district SBA office about questions and issues, including the Webinars and email bulletin subscription available at sba.gov/southflorida, South Florida SBA’s YouTube channel and Twitter page, and by email at SouthFlorida_DO@sba.gov. She recommended local chambers as “a very valuable resource. They are organizations that advocate on behalf of your business. They are information centers and they care about you.”

“I will second everything you said about being a member of your local chamber,” Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce President John Lai said before opening the discussion to questions. “We work hard and care very deeply for each and every chamber member out there.”

“Althea’s straightforward PowerPoint presentation was extremely helpful in clearing up the muddle of information out there,” Lai added. “We are super grateful for the time she spent making this difficult time less so.”