Recent Updates

Employers: The Washington State ESD Shared Work Program Still an Option

If returning part-time or full-time permanent employees are causing your business financial hardship, Washington’s nationally recognized SharedWork program might help. SharedWork allows employers to reduce hours by as much as 50%, while employees collect partial unemployment benefits to replace a portion of lost wages. To determine if you’re eligible: 800-752-2500 or www.esd.wa.gov/sharedwork.

Workers: UI Payments of Extra $300 to Start in Mid-January

New federal legislation that expands CARES Act provisions includes an extra $300 per week for eligible claimants who receiving benefits from any unemployment program. The extra payment is called Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC). Claimants eligible for benefits from the week ending Jan. 2, to the week ending Mar. 13, will receive the extra amount. Payments should start Jan. 15. Track developments on ESD’s website and social media: www.esd.wa.gov.

Businesses: PPP Portal Opens Jan. 15 for Small Lenders, Jan. 19 for All Others

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), announced they will re-open the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan portal to PPP-eligible lenders with $1 billion or less in assets for First and Second Draw applications on Friday, January 15, at 9:00 am EST. The portal will fully open on Tuesday, January 19, to all participating PPP lenders to submit First and Second Draw loan applications to SBA.

If you need help finding a lender, visit: www.sba.gov/lendermatch.

For those seeking more information, here are excerpts from the SBA press release:

  • Earlier in the week, SBA granted dedicated PPP access to Community Financial Institutions (CFIs) which include Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), Certified Development Companies (CDCs), and Microloan Intermediaries as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to reach underserved and minority small businesses.
  • On Friday, SBA will continue its emphasis on reaching smaller lenders and businesses by opening to approximately 5,000 more lenders, including community banks, credit unions, and farm credit institutions.  The agency also plans to have dedicated service hours for these smaller lenders after the portal fully re-opens next week.
  • First Draw PPP Loans are for borrowers who have not received a PPP loan before August 8, 2020. The first round, which ran from March to August 2020, was a historic success helping 5.2 million small businesses keep 51 million American workers employed.
  • Second Draw PPP Loans are for eligible small businesses with 300 employees or less, that previously received a First Draw PPP Loan and will use or have used the full amount for authorized uses, and that can demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020. The maximum amount of a Second Draw PPP loan is $2 million.

Updated Lender forms, guidance, and resources at www.sba.gov/ppp and www.treasury.gov/cares.

PPP Loan Update

The Small Business Administration (SBA), in partnership with the US Treasury, opened the preliminary Payroll Protection Program (PPP) application portal on Monday, January 11. This preliminary portal is focused on select minority and disadvantaged business institutions that serve clients seeking a “first-draw” PPP loan. We are awaiting further instructions for individual first-draw and second-draw PPP loan applicants. To get a head start preparing, please consider participating in one or more training webinars offered by the Washington State Business Development Center (WSBDC):

For more background information on the next round of PPP lending, check out the Washington State Department of Commerce: http://startup.choosewashingtonstate.com/links/crisis/covid-19-resources/ppp-summary-round2/

PPP/EIDL Loan Application Scam Alert

We have received reports of local businesses receiving unsolicited emails (potentially phishing in nature) from entities offering help with PPP and EIDL loan applications. DO NOT submit personal or business information to entities unknown to you. If you would like assistance, please contact your personal or business banker directly. If they are unable to serve you for any reason, please contact our business hotline at 1-800-821-6652 and our technical specialists will connect you with an SBA-approved lending institution. Operating hours are 9:30-3:30, Monday-Friday.

Business Smart Restart Toolkit Updated

Thurston Strong partner, the Thurston Chamber of Commerce, has updated the Smart Restart Toolkit to reflect recent changes associated with Governor Inslee’s Healthy Washington initiative. The toolkit provides information for Phase I and II operating procedures. Future updates will be provided as industry-specific guidance is released and more advanced reopening phases and allowances are released. For more info: https://thurstonchamber.com/smart-restart-toolkit/

Working Washington Business Grants Round Three Update

The Washington Department of Commerce recently announced results from the Working Washington Business Grant 3 (WWBG3) program. Thurston Strong was informed that 259 Thurston County entities were awarded funding totaling more than $3 Million. Ninety-three percent of the awards are in the form of $12,500 small business grants (under 50 employees), and the remaining seven percent in the form of $4,500 micro-business grants (under 10 employees).

The announcement indicates recipients include registered businesses and nonprofit organizations in all incorporated cities and unincorporated towns in Thurston County, including: Bucoda, Lacey, Olympia, Rochester, Rainier, Tenino, Tumwater and Yelm. Grants were predominately awarded to the businesses most-severely impacted by the newest round of operating restrictions (restaurants and bars, gyms, lodging facilities, theaters, arts venues, theaters, etc.).

In the original round of Working Washington Business Grant funding, 35 Thurston businesses and nonprofits received funding totaling approximately $311,500. Commerce subsequently awarded 53 Thurston County businesses $424,000 via $8,000 “Resiliency Grants”.

After that, Thurston Strong partners were able to attract and distribute over $10 Million in additional grant resources, including CARES Act, Washington Department of Commerce and City/County funding, and helped local entities secure over $100 Million in forgivable Payroll Protection Program loans (averaging $32,000 per loan).

The few businesses that had applied but did not receive grants through Thurston Strong before resources were exhausted were then forwarded to the Washington State Department of Commerce for inclusion in the WWBG3 program. Thurston Strong will continue to advocate for and pursue all grant and associated technical resources to help our local businesses, nonprofits and childcare providers fight on until conditions stabilize and we return to our upward economic trajectory.

Stay strong Thurston.

Update on Benefits for Unemployed Workers

On Dec. 27, Gov. Jay Inslee announced a one-time payment of $550 to many recipients of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Later, the President signed the bill that changes and extends federal CARES Act unemployment benefits. Employment Security is now working to deliver Washington’s Pandemic Relief Payment (PRP) program and extended federal benefits. Track developments on ESD’s website: https://esd.wa.gov/newsroom/covid-19.

For now, claimants should:

  • Continue filing weekly claims
  • Watch for updates on esd.wa.gov/covid and messages in eServices
  • Do not call the unemployment claims center with questions – call volume remains high

The new federal legislation includes an extra $300 per week for eligible claimants receiving benefits from any unemployment program. The extra payment is called Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC). Claimants who are eligible for benefits from the week ending Jan. 2, 2021, to the week ending March. 13, 2021, will receive the extra amount.

Update on Resources for Business and Nonprofit Operators

Definitive rules for the second-draw SBA Payroll Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) remain pending. We will post details here when available. If you would like to track progress real-time, please:

New Business and Worker Resources in 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act

Last night, Congress approved the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act. While final rules won’t be issued for days or weeks, here are some items we’re tracking:

Additional Insights Regarding New Federal Resources

The US Chamber of Commerce has provided updated information on the PPP, EIDL and other business assistance/resource programs. To learn more, visit https://www.uschamber.com/report/guide-small-business-covid-19-emergency-loans#foura.

PPP Business Loan Program Expanded:

  • Billions have been added to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) programs. Entities who received either loan in the first round are eligible to apply again through a “second draw
  • PPP applicants can apply (and have loans forgiven) for higher amounts as the range of eligible expenses has been expanded to include supplier costs [restaurants], worker protections [PPE], software [tools that make doing business easier] and property damage
  • Economic development organizations [501(c)(6)] and DMOs DO qualify for PPP loans
  • Forgiven PPP loans (grants) are NOT counted as taxable income
  • New PPP Loans under $150k: one-page application and reduced submittal requirements
  • SBA has 10 days from adoption of Act (TBD) to issue clarifying administrative rules

Other Business Tax Relief:

  • $15 billion to support live entertainment venues, agents, cultural institutions such as theaters and museums with 500 or fewer FTE (cannot also apply for a new PPP loan)
    • $2 billion of these funds are reserved for entities with 50 or fewer FTE employees
    • Initial grant can total up to $10 million per eligible business. A supplemental second grant, worth half the amount of the first, may also be available if funds are available
    • Grant amount based on 45% of recipient’s 2019 gross earned revenue
    • Priority in the first 14 days given to businesses who faced 90% or more of losses of earned revenue between 4/1 to 12/31/20, compared to the same period in 2019
    • Priority for next 14 days given to companies who faced 70% or more of losses of earned revenue between 4/1 to 12/31/20, compared to the same period in 2019
    • Special formula allowances available for seasonal businesses
    • Funds can be used to cover all the same new covered costs of a PPP loan plus payments to independent contractors (not to exceed $100K annual pay), maintenance costs, licensing, insurance premiums, advertising, theatrical production costs, and capital expenditures incurred 3/1/20 to 12/31/21
    • Recipient would not include grant funds in their taxable gross income
    • Grant funds cannot be used to purchase real estate, pay loans taken out after 2/15/20, investment or re-lend, or for electoral activity and lobbying expenditures
    • Applications are made to the SBA and the SBA Administrator to issue guidance within 21 days of bill’s enactment
  • Business tax /credit  extended through March 2021 (payroll tax, sick and family leave)
  • Increased fee schedule proposed for physicians (more federal funding for public payers)
  • $10B allocated for childcare (to help replace parent copay, fund technical training)

Impacted Worker Support:

  • Key unemployment benefits extended to March 14 and or 21, 2021 (with total eligibility expanded from 39 to 50 weeks)
  • IRS tax credits extended for 2020 returns ($1,200 for joint filers under $150k annual income)

Thurston Strong will provide pertinent updates as formal rules are adopted and the programs above are announced or launched.

In the meantime, the National Development Council (NDC) is offering a free webinar to delve deeper into the appropriations and programs contained within the new Act. The webinar starts at noon on Wednesday, December 23. To register, visit https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8424597042298117389.