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MGC Business Webinar: A Special Update with Representatives from the US Small Business Association – Massachusetts District Office

MGC’s Workforce, Supplier and Diversity Development Office hosted its second webinar on Friday, April 24, as part of the gaming commission’s ongoing effort to lend support and resources to local gaming vendors in response to the many challenges caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

The timely webinar coincided with the issuance of an additional $500 billion in COVID-19 relief, signed into federal law earlier the same day, re-funding the continuation of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program.  This forum offered gaming vendors the vital opportunity to learn about federal relief programs, including the day’s latest developments directly from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

For the second in a series of MGC webinars aiming to guide and advise small business owners through the current economic complications, MGC brought in Robert Nelson and Nadine Boone from the U.S. SBA Massachusetts District Office. Nelson, Massachusetts District Director, has years of experience as a commercial lender, worked for the FDIC, and has been with the SBA for over 20 years. Boone, Assistant District Director for Business Development, has earned certificates in commercial loans and federal contracting and has been with the SBA for more than 22 years.

MGC Commissioner Bruce Stebbins addressed the virtual attendees: “MGC shares its sympathy as you share so many challenges at this time. We know you remain concerned about your employees, your family.” He informed the audience that SBA and MGC’s collaboration “goes back to the formative days of the commission.”

Nelson began the discussion by touching upon the successes and challenges experienced during the first wave of COVID-19 federal aid.

“PPP has been a hugely successful program, not just here but across the country,” Nelson said, noting that following through on more than 1.6 million approvals has been a “Herculean effort.”

Nelson added, “Everyone is in this together… (we’re) trying to get everyone to recover. When funds ran out towards the middle of April, many lenders had applications in the pipeline that were not able to be submitted. When the funding ran out last Thursday we started getting lots of calls from small businesses; some of them absolutely in tears and in a panic about what’s going to happen…as you can expect and as you would anticipate…I’m very pleased we have this new bill.”

In Massachusetts alone, more than 450 lenders participated in PPP, including small and large banks from all over the country. Nelson indicated that there were 47,000 loan approvals and that 74% of the PPP loans were under $150,000. The speakers reminded attendees that the PPP loan may be completely forgivable, and that business employees benefiting from this potential grant do not have to be working in order to get paid.

“So make sure that your paperwork is really clean…because the PPP could be a 100% forgivable loan,” advised Boone.

Nelson also informed attendees that businesses “can look at the application in 19 different languages.”

The SBA speakers came prepared and informed with the very latest news. The most recent federal aid bill will fund $310 billion for the PPP and was expected to go live on Monday, April 27. “We need to wait to see what SBA will come out with as far as the rules of implementation of this second bill,” explained Nelson.  He suggested that businesses should sign up for the SBA email list in order to stay informed.

SBA also received $50 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. Under the first CARES Act, SBA could use Debt Relief Program money to cover six months’ worth of payments on existing SBA loans. This option also applies to this latest bill.  “I can tell you that Massachusetts is one of the most productive offices in the entire country in terms of SBA approvals,” Nelson reassured.

Boone began by reassuring attendees that their resource departments are “consistently available” to assist applicants. She advised attendees, especially if they are “women-owned…disadvantaged (or) minority-owned” to apply for an SBA certification as a HUBZone business: a business in a neighborhood or community that historically has been economically under-developed. Businesses may be entitled to additional funds through this program. “The federal government has a target of 24% of all of its dollars going towards small businesses,” informed Boone. She urged applicants to move swiftly, citing how quickly the first wave of small business aid funding ran out. “I cannot rephrase enough to please look towards your city and your state for local funding…or resources.”

Nelson and Boone answered questions from the attendees and explained the possible timeline between applying and receiving aid and how to check on the status of an application by contacting the call center. “There are millions of applications. We are processing those on a first-come, first-served basis. I called the center myself several different times, have not had to wait more than a couple minutes in order to get through to a live person, (I) requested to speak with a tier-2 representative; that happened immediately, and (I) was able to get some information on behalf of some small businesses,” Nelson reassured.

Workforce, Supplier, and Diversity Development Director Jill Griffin concluded the webinar by thanking Nelson and Boone for providing such timely assistance for the gaming vendors.

For convenience and easy access, all presentations in MGC’s webinar series will be recorded and made available on MassGaming.com.

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