New Paycheck Protection Program loans open to Alaska businesses

A foggy street with businesses
Many businesses closed or reduced operations early on during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Abbey Collins/Alaska Public Media)

Alaska businesses will soon be able to apply for a second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans. The second COVID-19 relief and spending package passed by Congress in December includes $284 billion more for businesses hurt by the pandemic.

The basic idea remains the same — pass money to businesses so they can keep paying workers. But the bill has expanded eligibility for the loans to include nonprofits, live venues and cultural institutions that have been struggling due to pandemic-forced closures.

“I’m glad the second draw is coming around because we need it again,” said Clark Bihag, senior area manager for the Small Business Administration, which is working to set up the program.

He said the SBA is being more methodical with the opening of this round of the Paycheck Protection Program.

“Businesses will soon get an opportunity to get a second draw of their PPP, but we are still waiting for SBA and Treasury to open up the application process,” he said.

The money coming to Alaska will be disbursed soon through some local banks. Those include First Bank, First National Bank of Alaska, Northrim, Mt. McKinley, Wells Fargo, Alaska USA and Denali State Bank, according to the SBA.

But for now, the Small Business Administration wants employers to get ready.

What the new loans cover has expanded, according to Bihag.

“Payroll costs, interest and mortgage obligation, rent obligation and utility payments were the original forgivable expenses,” Bihag said. “They added operations expenditures, property damage costs, supplier costs and worker protection expenditures to the list of forgivable expenses.”

Bihag said he wants people to understand the program and take advantage of it.

“[I get] satisfaction talking to small businesses I’ve assisted in the first draw, and they come back and say ‘Oh yeah, we got our PPP loan approved!’” he said. “So, despite all the stress, the program worked, and people were able to keep their employees on payroll.”

Applications for PPP will be open until March 31 and EIDL loans will be open until Dec. 31 or until funds run out. Funds are on a first-come, first-serve basis.

A previous version of this story misstated the date the EIDL loan period closes.