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Hawaii News

Paycheck protection loan program is expanded for Hawaii businesses and workers

The self-employed in Hawaii, along with independent contractors such as ride-share drivers, can start applying Friday for forgivable federal loans to help them survive economic impacts from the new coronavirus.

This phase of the small- business Paycheck Protection Program put together by Congress was promoted by state officials Tuesday along with other details of the hastily launched program.

Gov. David Ige and two state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism officials used Facebook Live to discuss key elements of the loan program being channeled through private lenders under U.S. Small Business Administration control.

Gwen Yamamoto Lau, a DBEDT energy program administrator, acknowledged that there has been some frustration with participation in the program since Friday when many lenders began accepting applications from small businesses.

“The federal government, SBA and our banks have put together this program — stood up this program — in 10 short days,” Lau said. “Things are evolving every single day. Please be patient with your lenders and with SBA because they’re trying their best to get the funds to you.”

One recent change was granting eligibility to faith-based nonprofits, which Lau said happened at about 11:30 p.m. Friday.

The Paycheck Protection Program offers small-business loans of up to $10 million to primarily cover eight weeks of payroll expenses. Rehiring employees must be done by June 30 to qualify.

Also, a quarter of loan proceeds may be used for other costs, including mortgage, rent and utility expenses.

Loan repayments and interest are deferred for six months, and proceeds used appropriately can be forgiven up to the full loan amount. Any unforgiven amount must be repaid in two years, Lau said.

Ige, Lau and Dennis Ling, a DBEDT business development administrator, took questions via chat and explained other program details that included part-time employees being covered along with independent contractors, the self-employed and sole proprietors. Farmers and ranchers cannot participate because assistance for them is being arranged through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Lau said applicants should be prepared with documentation of payroll expenses, revenue, their industry code and other supporting material to avoid having the loan application process interrupted.

Lau also encouraged applicants to apply as quickly as they can because $350 billion for the program is being shared nationally.

“It is first come, first served,” Ige said.

More information on the program from SBA can be found at 808ne.ws/2UFNgSL.

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