Millions in COVID-19 relief loans still available for businesses

WASHINGTON — Many businesses are still struggling to keep their doors open during the pandemic.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering one more COVID-19 relief program for businesses trying to recover from closures and setbacks.

So far, the SBA has approved nearly $260 billion worth of loans through the COVID-19 Economic Inquiry Loan (EIDL) program.

Joshua Suggs, who owns Delta’s Restaurant in New Jersey, said he recently received a $150,000 loan from the program.

“The program’s been a lifeline. It’s really, you know, kept us going. It, you know, allowed us to pay for staffing, inventory, just different things that the restaurant was encountering,” Suggs said.

Unlike the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, this loan isn’t forgivable, but it also isn’t limited to payroll expenses.

SBA Senior Advisor Veronica Pugin said the interest rate is 3.75 percent for businesses and companies have 30 years to repay it.

And in this case, she said the SBA is the lender too.

“So a small business does not need to go via another financial institution to go through that process. The small business owner can apply directly to SBA,” said Pugin.

Suggs said he is applying to increase his loan to $500,000. Even though, he has to pay it back, Suggs said these kinds of loans haven’t always been available to restaurants.

“I was strong enough in our business model strong enough in the in our commitment to the customers and our base, you know, I knew that we that we just needed some, some cash to get us, you know, through this period of uncertainty,” said Suggs.

A source familiar with the program said the top five industries that received COVID EIDL loan funds include retail, construction, accommodation and food services, professional/scientific/technical service, and transportation and warehousing.

The SBA says businesses are getting loans within two to three weeks and the program ends in December.

Pugin couldn’t comment on whether the relief program would be available in 2022.