More help is on the way for East Texas businesses crippled by the pandemic as applications open for a new federal Paycheck Protection Program.

“Applications are online, funding has started and it will go quickly,” Angelina College Small Business Development Center Director Dianne Amerine warned during a conference call hosted Tuesday by the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce.

The federal relief package signed into law Dec. 27 included a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program, which has been nicknamed PPP2. Applications for the original program closed in August.

Like the first version, the program offers forgivable loans to small business impacted by the pandemic, particularly for those overlooked in the first round. Those who received a loan the first go-round can also apply as long as they have 300 or fewer employees, used up their first round of funding and can show a revenue decline of 25% or more in any quarter of 2020.

Amerine described the rollout of the initial Paycheck Protection Program as chaotic.

“Everything was pulled together very quickly,” she said. “It really put a big burden on the banks, a burden on everyone because we didn’t have time to adequately prepare.”

The requirements for applications are essentially the same as the first program, Amerine said, adding the process should be less confusing the second time.

“Customers and bankers both have been thrown into the processing of PPP applications — bankers want to help and see the value of putting these funds into customers’ hands,” said BancCorpSouth branch manager Juan Gonzalez. “It’s a joint effort and there needs to be a lot of communication between bankers and customers.”

The Small Business Development Center is also available to answer questions or explain application terminology.

“Most people don’t speak government-ese,” Amerine said. “I think a lot of times (it helps) if people can make a phone call and are able to talk to a live person.”

The Small Business Development Center has advisers available to answer questions about the program at 936-633-5400.

Information on Chamber events and COVID-19 resources for businesses is available on the Nacogdoches County Chamber’s website, www.nacogdoches.org.

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