Safford, SBDC talk federal grants, loans for small business

SAFFORD – The City of Safford facilitated an online meeting Friday between salon and hair-care owners and Eastern Arizona College’s Small Business Development Center on two federal funding programs available to small-business owners.

Kevin Peck, SBDC director, explained business have a pair of loan options – the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

“We’ve got to get it in the hands of the businesses,” Peck said.

The loans are federally guaranteed and, in certain cases, can be forgiven. Such is the case for the PPP, if at least 75 percent of the loan is used to provide paychecks for employees who would otherwise not be earning a salary during the pandemic.

If the loan is not forgiven, the business owner would have two years to pay it back at an interest rate of 1 percent.

The EIDL is designed to cover an estimated six months of expenses, such as rent, utilities, insurance and debt payments. It could also be used to cover payroll.

The EIDL carries a fixed interest rate of 3.75 percent and borrowers can opt to have a repayment term of up to 30 years. Also the EIDL offers an advance of a portion of the loan – up to $10,000 – that would be disbursed just days after a loan application has been approved, and the advanced does not have to be repaid.

Peck suggested that small business owners consider applying for both funding mechanisms and, if approved, only draw the funds when necessary, to avoid taking on more debt than desired.

City Manager Horatio Skeete said he would set up another virtual meeting with small business owners, the Safford Downtown Association and the SBDC in the next week.

“We’re doing our best to try and keep things going,” Peck said. “Whatever we can do from our cities, our local governments, our business organizations . . . I’ll do this all day long; whatever I can do to get this out and get people assistance.”