Second COVID Stimulus Chance For Minority-Owned Businesses

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By Kassidy Arena, Iowa Public Radio News

In anticipation of the next COVID-19 stimulus program, Iowa State Extension is reaching out to make sure minority-owned businesses know their options.

The free program offers multilingual help with technology, financial planning and applying for the recently approved second stimulus package. (En Español aquí) Himar Hernandez, the assistant director for community and economic development with Iowa State Extension, said minority-owned businesses were severely underrepresented in the first round. They only received about 7 percent of Payment Protection Program funds (PPP).

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“So we looked at the ‘Why.’ Why did they miss this opportunity? And so one of the things we found out was they didn’t know about it,” Hernandez said.

He explained how when he reached out to some business owners, they knew about the individual checks included in the relief program, but not about the business loans. Hernandez said out of the small number of refugee, immigrant, Latino and Black-owned businesses who received PPP, only 12 percent received the total assistance they had asked for.

The other reason why some small businesses did not apply for the first round of PPP is because business loans are not usually easy to understand, Hernandez said. But the stimulus application is much more “doable.”

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“When we showed both the owners and our partners that it’s only literally a two page format that they had to fill out, it was just an eye opening for them,” Hernandez said. “Because it literally two pages, and most of them said yes or no, or put the initials.”

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Although the free assistance itself isn’t completely new, Hernandez said he and the other consultants are now more prepared than ever to help fill out applications for PPP. ISU Extension and Outreach has teamed up with

Mid Iowa Small Business Development Center, which according to Hernandez, was a “game changer.”

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“The good news is that we’re better position in terms of we’ve learned from the last round, the things that work and the things that didn’t work,” Hernandez said.

He said the majority of minority-owned businesses in Iowa are based in locations that are key to overall community development, by ensuring they succeed, the community around them succeeds. The consultants are expecting to begin helping applicants in the coming days when the next round’s applications are open.

The U.S. Congress approved to allocate about $284 billion to the PPP. In order to qualify, the business must have fewer than 300 employees and the business must have seen a decline in income of 25 percent or more.

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