“It is difficult to find a company that has not been affected by this crisis”

When news broke last Friday that the US Small Business Administration was launching a financial lifeline to devastated small businesses across the country in the form of a $ 349 million emergency loan program, the Midland Business Alliance ( MBA) quickly kicked into action.

It’s a huge amount of money, but the level of economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is so severe that it may not be enough. Time is running out because MBA leaders know there would be a mad rush for loans.

Led by CEO and Chairman Tony Stamas, the MBA team, already immersed in reviewing applications for state grants to help struggling local businesses, began to focus their efforts on informing the community. of Midland Small Businesses on the availability of the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. It provides forgivable loans of up to $ 10 million to small businesses that have been hit hard by the shutdown of the US economy.

“We’ve been incredibly busy,” Stamas said. “We are helping a lot of people through a very difficult time. “

The rollout of the massive coronavirus relief program has attracted huge interest from businesses in Midland, according to Stamas.

“It is difficult to find a company that has not been affected by this crisis,” he said. “The Paycheque Protection Program (P3) helps profit and nonprofit organizations. It covers the entire business spectrum to help keep people on the payroll. “

The MBA urged the companies concerned to work with their local banks to move quickly to the application for PPP loans. The money goes fast.

“We have local lending institutions that have worked with the SBA,” Stamas said. “Work with your local bank or credit union and have your business information ready when you do. “

The loans are 100% guaranteed by the SBA and are made to small businesses without the requirement of collateral, personal guarantees, SBA fees, or credit tests elsewhere.

“These loans will bring immediate economic relief and eight weeks of financial security to millions of small businesses and their employees,” SBA administrator Jovita Carranza said in a statement.

President Donald Trump has announced that he will immediately seek more funding from Congress if the loan program runs out of money. During a press briefing early Monday evening, Trump hit back at critics who complained that the massive PPP program rollout was chaotic and confusing. Trump acknowledged that there had been a few problems, but said the program was going well overall. He praised Bank of America, one of the largest banks in the country, and many community banks across the country for doing a great job in providing emergency loans to small businesses.

Stamas said the MBA is working with businesses in Midland County to guide them to available resources.

“We contacted almost 1,000 companies,” he said. “I know Midland is an entrepreneurial city, but I’ve heard of some businesses in this community that I didn’t know existed. There is a lot of ingenuity among our freelance workers.

Stamas said he has heard from many companies seeking clearer guidance on what they can and cannot do during the state shutdown.

“Many questions are being raised about how to navigate the ‘Stay home, stay safe’ executive order. What are the terms and conditions? What is allowed and what is not. There is a lot of information and it can be confusing.

This is why the MBA prides itself on being a repository of legitimate information that the Midland business community can trust.

“We try to keep information relevant to our website, but at the same time, we don’t want to overwhelm people,” he said. “There is so much information that it can be difficult. Our Facebook posts generate a lot of attention.

Stamas and the company are also helping Midland businesses secure a portion of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s $ 10 million grant program. The Midland County portion of this small business assistance program is $ 80,000 with grants of $ 2,500 to $ 5,000 available to eligible businesses.

“We should start to see funds pouring in for our business community this week,” he said. “We make sure we put people in touch with the right agencies. Many industry companies have trade associations that are also doing a great job during this crisis. “

MBA said the LaLonde Marketplace is a prime example of a Midland company that has changed the way it operates to keep its doors open.

“Companies that can, like LaLonde’s, are operationally adapting to stay open,” Stamas noted. “In some cases, that just isn’t possible.”

Stamas readily admits that uncertain times also pose challenges for his organization.

“This is all unprecedented,” he said. “Sometimes we have more questions than answers. What we do know is that Midland and its business community are resilient. We encourage people to contact us. We can help them get through this.

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