Remember When?

Customers strolling through stores unmasked or fettered by social distancing requirements like this customer at El Campo’s Shabby Chic may seem like decades ago, but the goal of the Small Business Association’s efforts is to have local business return to normalcy as quickly as possible. 

COVID-19 has proved relentless, especially for small businesses that have struggled to stay open during this time of economic uncertainty.

To help small business owners navigate this difficult time, the U.S. Small Business Administration is offering multiple information sessions that are available for free throughout October.

The sessions cover topics ranging from how to navigate the Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness process to resources specifically available to veterans. The events are all being held virtually, in accordance with COVID-19 safety guidelines.

The “COVID-19 Regional Small Business Relief & Recovery Loan Program Webinar” will cover a new program specifically for small businesses in the Texas Gulf Coast region. The event will be held at 11 a.m. today, Oct. 14, and the program is available through the Houston-Galveston Area Local Development Corporation.

“This program will provide immediate and critical financial assistance to small businesses throughout the Gulf Coast region dealing with the current impact and pending after effects of COVID-19,” according to SBA Houston.

At 1 p.m. today, Oct. 14, a webinar will be held titled “Common Issues Employers and Workers Face When Responding to COVID-19.” The session, hosted by the SBA’s Houston District office, will cover a wider array of subjects than the other sessions, including disaster funding and health guidelines for employees. A question and answer session will follow.

To combat the economic burden of the coronavirus pandemic, local banks issued Payroll Protection Program loans to at least 340 El Campo businesses. At 11 a.m. on Oct. 16, SBA is hosting a session on the loan forgiveness process for the PPP loans.

“We will also discuss important factors and tips you should consider when completing the Loan Forgiveness Application,” according to SBA Houston.

The Houston SBA office is also hosting several other webinars this month that don’t pertain directly to COVID-19.

Later today, at 3:30 p.m., SBA is hosting a session on the bureau’s resource partner program. This program connects small business owners with SBA partners who can offer advice, training and insight to local small businesses.

A session covering SBA’s loan program will be held at 2 p.m. on Oct. 15. The webinar covers specifically how the loans can be used to improve small businesses’ cash flow and capital as well as information on lenders’ selection process for the loans.

SBA is hosting an online franchise expo where business owners can meet franchise brands, tour virtual booths and attend educational seminars. The expo is taking place from Oct. 15 through Oct. 30.

A session covering contracting with the federal government will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 16. The webinar will provide information on the contract process, which is available to small businesses and involves the federal government purchasing goods and services.

The final webinar of the month is a resource specifically for veterans who own their own small businesses. Titled the “Virtual Veteran Entrepreneur Summit,” this event will begin at 2 p.m. on Oct. 22 and cover SBA resources for veterans.

“Virtual Veteran Entrepreneur Summit attendees will also gain valuable knowledge, insight, and practical tips for working with the federal government,” according to the SBA website.

For more information on the events, visit www.sba.gov/tx/houston.

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