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Newsletter: Want a PPP loan? You can still apply

Lena Swann, owner of All About the Dogue in Emeryville, with daughter Caliana
Lena Swann, owner of the All About the Dogue grooming studio in Emeryville, Calif., received notice this spring that her PPP loan application was approved. Small-business owners can still apply for a PPP loan; the deadline is Aug. 8.
(Russ Mitchell / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning. I’m Rachel Schnalzer, the L.A. Times Business section’s audience engagement editor, with our weekly newsletter about how you and your bank account can weather the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for whatever the economy might look like on the other side.

More than half a million California companies — including candy maker Jelly Belly, Kanye West’s Yeezy apparel firm and the SETI Institute, which searches for extraterrestrial life — have received loans through the federal Paycheck Protection Program, according to data the Trump administration released Monday. The loans, which can turn into grants if criteria are met, went to companies in almost every part of the state’s economy, reported Sam Dean, Samantha Masunaga and Don Lee.

Good news for small businesses that haven’t received a PPP loan: You can still apply. The updated deadline is Aug. 8.

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I spoke with Meagan Garland, an employment lawyer at Duane Morris in San Diego, to learn more about navigating the process.

The following conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Would you encourage small businesses to apply for a PPP loan at this point?

Yes. I understand that some small-business owners might wonder if it’s even worth their time, given how the whole PPP program has played out. (A lot of the money ended up going to very large corporations.) However, there was a whole bunch of money, billions of dollars, left on the table. Try to take advantage of this while you can, because you lose 100% of the shots you don’t take.

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What warnings would you give to applicants? What restrictions should they be aware of?

Guidance on the loans is changing on a weekly, if not daily, basis in some cases. Pay very close attention to what the guidance says now, both from the Small Business Administration and the Treasury.

Make sure that you are identifying and documenting what the need is for the money. You have to meet the qualifications. Make sure, given the appetite for audits of certain loans, that you are able to have contemporaneous documentation about the need for the loan. Just in case the Treasury or the SBA decides to increase their auditing scope.

Make sure you use the money specifically for the purposes for which it’s set aside in the statute — primarily for payroll, and then for other very specific non-payroll expenses. Fight the urge to use the money to fix the leaking roof.

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What steps should a small-business owner take to apply for a PPP loan?

Get your hands on the loan-forgiveness application first, so that you can see what’s going to be expected and go into this process with that in mind.

In addition, apply through a bank with whom you have a relationship, if possible. Because often, this bank would have the care and concern to help walk you through the aspects of the process, to keep you updated, to work with you in a way that may not be the case with other banks. Go to that reputable bank that’s been in your corner.

Get a separate account to put the loan funds into, so that way, it’s easy to identify exactly how the funds were used. And if there’s ever a question, that bank account can be audited without having to open up all of your books and records.

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Anything else a potential applicant should know?

Be aware that this isn’t a free-for-all — that while the goal here is to reimburse these funds and convert a loan into a grant, you still need to be very meticulous. A healthy dose of caution is good because the last thing that you would want is to end up in a situation where [an audit exposes problems or where you count on loan forgiveness that doesn’t happen, causing your troubles to] go from bad to worse.

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Reader question

A reader asked us: I work at a gym chain as a group fitness instructor teaching yoga and meditation. While the gym requires employees to wear masks, its policy lets members go barefaced while exercising. I don’t feel comfortable with my yoga students not wearing masks. They are breathing very deeply for an hour in front of me. What are my rights?

You’re in luck, my colleague Lauren Raab found out: State and local rules were updated last week.

Gyms and other “fitness facilities” in California must require patrons to wear face coverings indoors all the time except while they’re showering, according to guidance issued by the state Department of Industrial Relations, known as Cal/OSHA, and the state Department of Public Health.

Los Angeles County’s rule is even more stringent: In addition to face coverings, patrons now have to wear gloves.

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If your gym hasn’t already changed its policy, you and your co-workers can bring those updated rules to your supervisors’ attention if you feel safe doing so. If the policy still doesn’t change, there are a few other avenues you can try.

One more thing

Are you still waiting for your coronavirus stimulus check? You’re not alone, writes certified financial planner Liz Weston. She explains how to get in touch with the IRS to check on the status of your payment.

Have a question about work, business or finances during the COVID-19 pandemic, or tips for coping that you’d like to share? Send us an email at californiainc@latimes.com, and we may include it in a future newsletter.


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