Federal officials and an expert in the media industry reassured small business owners and freelance entertainment workers in Burbank that assistance is available and that the community will get through the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The city of Burbank and technology conference organizer TechFire hosted a Burbank Tech Talk Tuesday morning via a Zoom video-conference call with Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and Julia Giarmoleo, a public affairs specialist with the U.S. Small Business Administration to discuss the types of assistance available for those who need help keeping their business or themselves afloat financially as the economy comes to a near-standstill due to the outbreak.
The SBA is currently offering two emergency capital programs for small businesses and nonprofits — a low-interest, long-term loan for up to $2 million and a disaster loan advance for up to $10,000, Giarmoleo said.
The loan can be used to pay fixed debts, employees and other bills that cannot be paid due to the impact of the pandemic, she added. Interest rates are 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere and 2.75% for nonprofits.
Loan terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, with a maximum of 30 years. The first payment of the loan will be deferred by 12 months. However, that period could be extended depending on the outcome of the pandemic, Giarmoleo said.
The loan advance can also be used for business expenses and payroll and whatever amount is received will be forgiven by the SBA.
Giarmoleo warned those in the video conference that the SBA does not charge applicants to submit a loan application and that those who pose as the federal agency and attempt to collect an upfront fee should be avoided.
“You definitely shouldn’t be paying anyone to fill out your SBA disaster loan application,” she said.
While there are currently two programs small businesses can sign up for with the SBA, Giarmoleo said the agency expects additional assistance programs to be available by the end of this week.
The deadline to apply for the loan or loan advance is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 16.
In addition to assisting small business owners, Schiff said the more than $2-trillion stimulus package passed at the federal level will help those who work on a contract basis or are freelancers in media production.
“They traditionally don’t qualify for unemployment compensation because they don’t have the same traditional work relationship with an employer,” he said.
The video conference also included a brief discussion with Peter Csathy, founder and chairman of CREATV Media, who discussed what the media industry is doing to keep the public entertained and what it should be doing to keep up with demand.
Shelter-in-place orders have had a significant impact on cinemas and theaters and people have resorted to using streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Disney+ to fill the hours of the day.
As those companies benefit from the increase in media streaming, Csathy said those companies need to return the favor and help those in the entertainment community who create their content.
Musicians have also been affected as many of them depend on concert revenue, but Csathy said that segment of the entertainment industry is starting to adapt to the circumstances. Some artists have started to host paid livestream concerts.
Those interested in applying for the small business loan programs can visit sba.gov/disaster.