OWEGO — Small businesses are able to apply for a share of a $349 billion pot marked for job retention as coronavirus struggles continue.

The Small Business Association’s Paycheck Protection Program is for any small business with less than 500 employees — including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed persons — private non-profit or 501©(19) veterans organizations affected by COVID-19.

Under the program, eligible businesses could qualify for up to $10 million — a loan amount determined by eight weeks of prior average payroll, plus an additional 25 percent, according to the SBA.

The SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities, county EDP officials said.

Forgiveness is based on the employer maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels. Forgiveness will be reduced if full-time headcount declines, or if salaries and wages decrease.

Businesses can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Locally, those qualified lenders include Chemung Canal Trust Co.; Community Bank; Corning Federal Credit Union; Elmira Savings Bank, FSB; Empower Federal Credit Union; NBT Bank N.A.; Tioga State Bank; and Tompkins Trust Company.

The program will be available through June 30, 2020.

For more information, visit sba.gov.

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