There is still CARES Act money available for businesses struggling to pay their employees, but many in southwest Virginia aren’t taking advantage of it.
Due to demand, many missed out on the first round of the Paycheck Protection Program, or have already spent what they received last year. A second round, dubbed PPP2 rolled out in mid-January.
The Roanoke Regional Small Business Development Center (SBDC) director, Amanda Forester said money is available, but not enough businesses are applying.
“We are concerned because we aren’t seeing a lot of people take advantage of it this second round. We know that there are businesses out there that need it, that can use it and we are here to help them do that,” Forrester said.
Forrester said interested business owners should contact their banks to find out if they are eligible. The funds are available until the end of March.
The SBDC is doing a roadshow across the region to help business owners one-on-one apply. The roadshow is scheduled for March 8-12. More details will soon be available on its website.
Forrester said many business owners are still struggling to hang on due to the pandemic. She says there is no way to track how many permanent closures have happened, but we will begin to see a comparative number as business owners renew business licenses in 2021. Forrester said they have seen large number of people working to start their own business.
Many of those start-ups are participating in the Gauntlet business program and competition, now in its seventh year, which has expanded to includes more areas in the region. The program works to help entrepreneurs create a business plan, and awards top-placing competitors with cash and in-kind prizes to get their business launched.
Forrester said it’s crucial that business owners take advantage of all resources available to them in order to make it through this year.