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Experts gather to discuss Covid-19 relief for businesses

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Looking to relieve the burden brought on to your business by the Covid-19 pandemic? The latest episode of Herald Inside LI is here to help.

Four panelists gathered for the latest webinar, which focused on avenues of financial relief for small businesses. They included Jessica Dennehy, Esq., business and legal strategist for Pivot & Slay; Robert Piechota, Long Island branch office manager for the SBA New York District Office for U.S. Business Administration; and Lou Pizzileo and Robert Tobey, CPAs and partners with Grassi Advisors and Accountants.

Skye Ostreicher, of Herald Community Newspapers and RichnerLive, moderated the discussion.

The episode premiered on Dec. 8, as applications for a second round of paycheck protection program loans were soon approaching.

“This is really the hallmark of government response — it is in itself unprecedented,” Piechota said.

There have been roughly 65,000 PPP loans rendered on Long Island, Piechota said. As a business entity, he added, Long Island is bigger than most across the country.

The PPP loans are designed to help business owners maintain payroll to employees or themselves, Piechota explained. Sixty percent of the loan must go to your payroll, while 40 percent can go towards expenses.

Piechota also explained that economic injury disaster loans, or EIDLs, are available directly through the SBA. Application information for can be found at sba.gov.

The employee retention program is also a “flexible” option, Tobey said, that can help some businesses stay afloat. A home healthcare agency was forced to lay off trainers, for example, he said, but they qualified and were able to recoup some losses.

“It puts real money in your pocket today,” Tobey said. “It’s a quick way to recover some cash that you can use to run your business.”

Grassi advisors can help business owners navigate the “interplay” between the employee retention and payroll protection programs to maximize the credit received.

“It’s a really cool program,” Tobey said. “This is something that a lot of folks really haven’t focused on. We picked up on this and we think a lot of clients and businesses will be able to benefit in 2021.”

“This is the biggest stimulus package since The New Deal,” Pizzileo said. “For all it’s drama in the roll out, it’s been a great program that’s saved many, many businesses and many jobs.”

What about businesses that did not apply for the first round of PPP assistance, but qualified? If so, the program is reopening in 2021, Pizzileo said, and it will be available in a more expanded fashion. While the final applications are not yet available, “it continues to get easier,” he added.

Businesses that are temporarily shut down, but still plan to open, can also qualify for PPP loans, Tobey said.

The date for the second round of PPP loans is not clear yet, Dennehy noted. “The date is still uncertain, so you have to stay tuned and keep an ear out for that,” she said.

Business owners planning to apply should also start to accumulate records showing a 25 percent reduction in revenue, which is qualified for the loan, Pizzileo said.

Pizzileo said he expects applications to open soon — potentially as early as this week. “You should absolutely check with your lender to see if they’re participating,” he said.

This webinar was sponsored by Grassi. Questions can be directed to the Grassi Crisis Response and Recovery hotline at (212) 223-6216 or response@grassicpas.com.

Herald Inside LI is a weekly webinar series. To view this full recording or attend future webinars, visit liherald.com/insideli.