Why it’s Time for Small Businesses to Get Their Share.

By Simon Albaugh – YAN – Detroit

It should be no secret that government programs like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) are available to everyone. It’s also no secret that a lot of organizations have been taking advantage of programs like the PPP.

Recently, the Los Angeles Lakers, a Basketball Team estimated to be worth around $4 billion has come under criticism for applying for – and receiving – $4 million in subsidies from the federal Coronavirus relief efforts.

When news broke of the Basketball Team’s relief money, people were angry, to say the least. The team eventually returned the millions of dollars after the public outcry. According to a report published by CNN, the Lakers are, in fact, a small business – with less than 300 employees. They are well within the threshold set by the Small Business Administration.

A lot of lawmakers have talked about oversight for this process. Legislators like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez have been working to understand how organizations like the LA Lakers or the Shake Shack Corporation were able to cash in on relief efforts intended for small businesses.

Wendy Thomas is Southeast Michigan Regional Director for the Michigan Small Business Development Center. Her work, and the work of the Small Business Development Center involves assisting small businesses in everything they might need to have the best chance at being successful. And no, they don’t assist the Detroit Pistons.

Thomas’ guess as to how larger organization could have access to relief money is about direct and fast-paced accounting efforts.

“One of the things that happened with the first round of federal programs is that many of those larger companies, they had, access to accountants that were one phone call away,” Thomas said. “And they had their information that was easily obtainable. But for some of our smaller business businesses, it’s a little bit harder to get access or even to pull together that information. And so there was a natural delay.”

Most companies don’t have access to these accounting efforts. For many small businesses, it’s usually the owner who takes on these roles themselves. And so many businesses feel that they’ve been left out of a program that was specifically designed for them in mind.

If you own a small business and got your application for this program ready for the first round, now is the right time to try again. On Monday, the Paycheck Protection Program began accepting applications for a new round of funding meant for small businesses.

However, by some estimates, the funding will not last very long. Some people believe the funding will be taken in as little as four days, while others say it will take as much as 10 days.

In this time, a lot of the work that Thomas does involves helping small businesses navigate programs like the Paycheck Protection Program and the Emergency Injury Disaster Loan.

“Our hope with this this second phase of funding is that some of our small businesses really get to the table. And so we’re tasked with helping them to get together their documentation to help them understand what each of these programs will do, to help them understand if they’re eligible, and if so, to what degree, they are eligible.”

If you don’t know whether you’re eligible or not, click here.

Dr. Hayg Oshagan, who works as director of New Michigan Media, a nonprofit that works to expand media specific to Michigan’s recently immigrated population, has his own theory about the program.

Oshagan said that many of the businesses run by New Americans haven’t applied in the first round because they either didn’t know about the program, don’t understand the application, don’t trust the program, or don’t have a relationship with the bank.

But all of those questions shouldn’t keep someone from applying for this program. In fact, both Wendy Thomas and Dr. Hayg Oshagan believe that this is the best time for small businesses to be applying for the Paycheck Protection Program.

Wendy Thomas said that many of the SBA’s efforts are shifting toward the most underserved communities.

“With this new pot of funds, there is going to be a focus on underserved communities, minority communities, people of color,” Thomas said. With this new pot of money, there is a designation where they are going to be targeting to ensure that underrepresented communities, underserved communities, get access to these funds.”

Southeast Michigan’s economy will recover from this. And when a new sense of normalcy returns after the Coronavirus Pandemic, people will depend on the businesses that made it through the worst.

In our communities, the people who have always been essential – the small business owners that work for the people around them – will be able to do business again. And whether it’s the Paycheck Protection Program or local grants and loans, there are efforts to help get everyone through this difficult time.